Be Who You Are, Defend What You Know and Acknowledge What You Don’t Know
Being Who You Are:
One of the principle issues we have in coaching at the present time is coaches who are becoming chameleons not staying true to themselves. They are consistently changing who they are and what they believe because there is a potential financial gain or they think it will make them more popular. I use to use the following slogan because it sums up how I see my own coaching and is true to how I see what we do as a company:
“We don’t do PC, We do performance”
The goal of coaching is to help athletes achieve their full potential regardless of whether that is to finish their first race or to win it. These goals can only be achieved if coaches are true to themselves. We all have foundation beliefs that guide who we are, how we coach and what we believe. It is through these strongly held ideas that we develop all the other aspects of how we coach.
If we are not true to these foundational beliefs then everything that follows will be built on shaky ground. You can adjust how you coach each athlete to ensure the message is understood but to change the message itself is wrong and will eventually come back to bite you. An inconsistent message will inevitably lead to questions as to what you truly stand for and your athletes questioning your credibility.
Defend What You Know:
Those who know me well realize that I will always push and defend the following things (amongst others):
Short course speed for long course success
The importance of high cadence over low cadence for cycling performance
Speed before Endurance
Technique and form before volume.
The point is these things form the foundation of how I coach and teach. I am also happy to defend these points of view anytime to anyone who would question me on them. It is because I am happy to defend them that I understand that they are my foundational ideas. If I was not prepared to defend them they wouldn’t be that vital to my coaching.
I have over the past 5 years in the USA had to defend these ideas amongst others against those who believe contrary to my coaching beliefs. But if you “know what you know” then defend it with facts and don’t back down unless you are prepared to change sides and acknowledge the other point of view as correct.
Acknowledge What You Don’t Know:
If you are smart you should also know and acknowledge what you don’t know. As coaches it’s the only way we know what we have to learn. Those who appear to know everything and are happy to say that they do, have stopped developing as coaches and the world will slowly pass them by. I have and currently am coaching a great deal of USAT certified coaches that are constantly questioning me on different topics. Sometimes the best answer I have is “I don’t know, but I will find out”. This causes me to branch out either to other coaches, physiologists, or scientific studies to come back with the soundest answer to be found. I am not afraid to admit that there is more to know in this sport than any person could amass in a lifetime of coaching and there is a constant need to continue to educate ourselves. However too many coaches often avoid admitting what they don’t know, and use a smoke screen to distract from the topic at hand.
The irony of our sport is that if a coach makes a mistake it is not us that suffer as a result but rather our athletes. At the very least we should be who we are, defend what you know and admit when we are wrong so that we can continue to learn and develop ourselves.