It’s the coaches role to let the athlete go and fumble around the track, the trails, the field and where ever they may practice or play. It’s the fumbling about that puts athletes in situations that force them to make key decisions alone without the so called better judgement of the coach. These are the arenas of tough lessons learned but they are the most valuable.
We have all heard of helicopter parenting and we all know how that story ends. I feel it’s the same with coaching. If you take an athlete and you always give them very strict and structured directions they will never learn to think objectively for them selves when it comes to training and racing. This makes athletes much less adaptable when situations require quick thinking and deviation from the original game plan.
Here’s a perfect example – If your a mountain bike coach and you are responsible for selecting the tires for your racer and telling them what pressure to run in them is that enough? I’d suggest it is not enough. Giving advice on tire selection and tire pressure can be a great advantage to an athlete who has a very knowledgable coach but if the athlete doesn’t understand why they are using those tires or why the air pressure recommended was selected then you have failed as a coach. – A better approach in this case would be to introduce the tire selection to the athlete with specific reasoning behind the choice. After that asking the athlete to ride the tires for a few days at various tire pressures on various terrain this will give them a real life understanding of what tire pressure does to that specific tires performance. Once this has been accomplished the athlete then has the knowledge and ability to set their own pressures based on circumstance. Like if it is forecasted to be dry but 10 minutes before the start it begins to rain. So many examples of this exist in every sport and it is really never the job of a coach to micro manage an athlete. The objective is to guide them in the right direction while equipping them with the knowledge and understanding that all situations need a back up plan. – Adaptability –
Food for thought in our approach on how we coach adaptability into our athletes if you have any comments or personal stories feel free to share!