Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Importance of Good Coaching

Coaching has an enormously important role in producing and sustaining great athletes.  I do know some top athletes that coach themselves to remarkable performances but then will level off and will need the guidance of a good coach to help get them 'unstuck.'  I believe many top athletes have the intuition to get them to the next level but rarely follow through.  For instance, it is far easier to work hard day in and day out and avoid the recovery sessions.  Because as the type-A athlete you think: hard work makes me faster, no work makes me a lazy lump on a log.  When in reality the recovery (rest and relaxation and food!) is what will ultimatley make you stronger.  Training makes you weaker, recovery makes you stronger.  Most often the difference between top level athletes and the ones just below this level is the quality of their recovery.  A good coach has the ability to take a critical look at the athletes workload and either say: "Rest!" or "Get your butt off the sofa!"   

For the athlete-coach relationship to work a few things need to be happening.  The athlete needs to want to make themselves coachable, both athlete and coach are committed to specific important goals and the athlete is dedicated to learning through disciplined practice and repetition.

My coach has helped me develop my capacity to think about racing and training in a very different and refreshing way.  For instance, I am thinking of aerodynamics and 'whats' (or is it Watts?) on the bike with an entirely new perspective. ;)  I didn't even know what a Watt was until last year!  And forget aeordynamics on the bike. You mean wearing an extra large wind blocking jacket won't make you faster? No Amber, it will most likely act like a speed stealing parachute. Doh!   

The athlete will most often get the credit for top performances but it is without a doubt the great coach behind that athlete that is responsible.

No matter how much you think you know, even coaches need coaches:) That's why despite the fact that I coach myself, I opt to also be coached. After all you cannot analyse(not easily at least) your own swim technique or form. That's why I recommend everyone be coached or at least have a consultation with a coach to make sure there are no glaring deficits.

Okay, that's it for now. 

Happy Training!

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