If you’re not accustomed to getting up in the wee dark o’clock hours to thrash yourself with a barbell, tarmac and jumping around then let me paint the scene for you:
A quite relaxing and not-intrusive Android alarm goes off at 0540. You reach over and because it’s so soothing you actually find yourself immediately dozing off again. A more harsh alarm might be better but with a deeply sleeping family in the house you have to be mindful. So you creep downstairs to the kit that you painstakingly laid out the night before (work clothes, wash kit, training kit), you put the kettle on (pre-filled the night before so you don’t make noise with flowing taps) and pour the hot water in to your pre-prepared coffee cup. Swallowing a mouthful of mixed nuts and dried fruit (carefully closing the cupboard, noting that you really must get that squeaky hinge oiled), you lift your stuff to the front door and get changed. Quietly unlocking the door, you step in to the freezing (or wet…or both) morning and head to your car. Immediately, you think about returning to bed and the pull is very, very, very strong. The car is pretty cold and wet at this time of the year so you whack the heating up to full blast, put on Radio 4 (yep, it’s Farming Today time!) and slowly roll out of the street, only accelerating when out of sight of your own house and sleeping wife’n’kids. After Farming Today comes ‘Tweet of the Day – World Birds’ with either David Attenborough, Bill Oddie or Chris Packham crooning over the Red Throated People Eater.
Arriving at the box, you run from the car through the rain to the door, drop your keys, put your coffee down in a puddle, pick up the keys and let yourself in. It’s (still) cold, dark, it’s just not wet. Firing up the lights, you wipe the boards from the previous day, sip some coffee and then get writing. By 0615, your brain is beginning to wake up and you find yourself with a minute or two to conduct some of your own stretching before people crawl in.
And then, they don’t.
Despite putting in the effort to be there for others, those others don’t turn up. Despite the GoTeamUp planner saying people are booked in, noone arrives. Despite planning the session so that everyone can achieve their objectives and finish on time, the box remains empty. This happened this morning to the other coach; it’s happened to me before. It really is quite upsetting but not for the reason you might think. Sure, you’ve put in all the effort but actually this becomes an opportunity to conduct your own training so you do benefit. It’s actually saddening because you recall the weeks before where athletes have exposed their goals and objectives to you; they’ve sometimes been pretty upset to expose themselves to you in this way. You can see that what they are trying to do really does mean something to them; at least, it appears to. For the first week after, there they are at 0615 with that fire in their eyes, that self-motivation and determination. And then, the call of the bed becomes just a bit louder than the call of losing weight / getting stronger / being faster / gaining fitness. The thought of that particular WOD (today’s had a lot of running in) that just might seem too hard is enough to put people off instead of seeing an opportunity to work on a weakness.
As a coach this is disappointing. Of course, we want to blame the individuals. “It obviously isn’t important enough to you!” is the mantra of most. It’s not that simple though, is it? As a coach we have to take in to account just how hard it is to make truly life changing decisions and stick to them. A routine is highly addictive; it’s a comfort blanket, you feel safe in a rut. You might want to get out of it but actually how capable are you of getting out of it? As a coach, it is my responsiblity to keep providing that hand to pull an athlete up and out until they stand tall above that rut and can march forward unaided. It’s a very slow process for many and requires a careful engagement, nudging the tiller, praising / rewarding and not small amount of poking and prodding. It can takes months and years but is so rewarding when you see the mental shift; when you eventually see the physical shift too then that truly is amazing. If you don’t have the patience to engage with an athlete and bring them along that path then you are not a coach. If you don’t have the skills to keep your athlete engaged and focused on the goal then you have to go and learn them. Coaching is not understanding a movement pattern; sure. that’s a small part of sports coaching but coaching is about the person. You coach the person, not a movement. You coach the development and achievement pathway, part of which is getting the movement correct, but the majority is about getting the mindset correct.
So when I get upset that you haven’t turned up to a session that we’ve carefully planned for you, that we’ve got our own tired ass out of bed for at stupid o’clock, that I’ve dropped my coffee on the hallway carpet (accidentally) for, I am mostly upset at myself. Yes, you do have a responsiblity to your coaches and the effort that they put in. If you’re not going to be there then don’t sign in or at least tell us.
Just know though that I hold myself more accountable. If you’re falling off the wagon and not keeping to your goals then it’s my failing. Don’t be too surprised when we have a chat though.