Coaches – no last-minute changes please
Athletes get the medals; not coaches. Coaches get their rewards as an offshoot of their athlete’s success. The individual athlete or team players get the limelight; the coach gets the supporting role or honorable mention.
Coaches accept this reality as a part of their creed or handbook. Most of their work is done in the four to eight years leading up to an Olympic Games. In the days and weeks before the Games they mostly play a guidance and monitoring role to ensure athletes taper (do less intense training), strategize and prevent/manage injuries. During the Games, they continue in a guidance and monitoring role. Even in team sports such as soccer, the role is guidance, strategy and the utilization of personnel.
Athletes need to allow their subconscious minds to do the work
The biggest mistake that some coaches make—and I’ve seen it time and again—is feeling they still need to be teaching or adjusting the technique of their athletes right up to competition time—a week, day or even minutes before the event. Whether this is perceived as beneficial or simply the coach wanting to feel useful, little if anything will be retained as any new skill takes time to become automatic.
Worse, it gets the athletes thinking—and thinking leads to meddling with the subconscious mind, which—by this time—needs to have the athlete’s full trust. Athletes need to relax, have fun, and keep their conscious minds out of the way so their subconscious minds work efficiently. Last minute technique changes messes with this process.
The coach is more than a trainer, cheerleader or strategist
I teach coaches a hugely important role that makes them more than just organizers, cheerleaders or strategists at the games. I teach them to be the emotional ballast and in this respect they have the very important role of ensuring their athletes get into and stay in the Zone—mostly by getting into and staying in the Zone themselves. This needs to be practiced, but in Olympic or professional sports coaches get caught up in the moment and become spectators. However, this is one of the most important roles (skills) of the coach and the practice for this occurs well before the Olympics. When coaches stay in the Zone, they create an emotional synergy with their athlete. Athletes coached by these coaches have a huge advantage.
So, at any level, Olympic or otherwise, pump yourself up with adrenaline just like you did when you competed, find your Zone, and stay in it for your athletes. It is one of your most important roles, especially once the training is done.
A salute to Olympians and coaches around the world
In this countdown time to the London Olympics, I and many others around the world, will be looking forward to cheering on our country and our favorite athletes. I salute the athletes and their support teams for their dedication to their sport and their country. The training has already been done and now it’s time to get into the Zone, have fun and play – you’ve earned it!
About the Author
Bob Palmer is CEO and High Performance Strategist with SportExcel. Bob teaches a mental training system to athletes and coaches from around the world that has produced winning results at the Olympics, PanAm and Commonwealth Games as well as other international, national and regional competitions.
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