Always be learning and willing to listen to those who are deeply invested in helping you
Hello!! Welcome to Coach Tip Tuesday!!
This week, one of my favorite professional triathletes - Lionel Sanders - released a video on his YouTube Channel that went into detail about his race at the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship (which did not go the way he wanted it to). I strongly advise that you take the time to watch this and see if this video hits home with you.
I’ve always admired Mr. Sanders, and this video proves exactly why: He is willing and able to take a good look at himself and see where he made mistakes, admit that he made those mistakes, and then he’s willing to actively look for ways to address those mistakes, improve, and move forward.
All athletes - regardless of ability - are always constantly learning and growing. One of Mr. Sanders’s issues in the sport for the last two years has been that he has thought that he always knows more than those around him who are deeply invested in his performance and his well-being as a human and as an athlete.
As a coach, this is something I am always managing with the athletes who I work with. As an athlete who has been coached by other coaches for the majority of the last decade, I’ve been on the receiving end of this. Good coaches are DEEPLY invested in their athletes, and as such, they will always make the recommendations that they feel are in the athlete’s absolute best interests. However, despite this, many athletes (including myself once upon a time!!) will heavily resist suggestions made by coaches. This happens for a number of reasons - anything from “What I’ve been doing has worked for me, so why try something different??” to “I don’t think that that applies to ME.” to “I don’t like the sound of that.” to “I don’t want to do that.”
One of the hardest lessons I learned as an athlete was that someone else with a third-party perspective could often see my “big picture” quite a bit clearer than I could see it myself. This meant that there were, in fact, things out there that I hadn’t ever tried that might very well be extremely valuable and worthwhile. It might mean that the “different” thing that my coach was urging me to consider would be the very ticket I needed to reach my goals.
Over the years, I’ve had athletes tell me this, “I really don’t like it when you are right, Coach Laura.” Here’s the truth, my friends: I’m definitely not always right (NO ONE ever is!!), but if I make a recommendation to an athlete, it is my VERY best educated recommendation, and I wouldn’t be making it unless I felt strongly that I was right. And honestly, as a full-time coach, it’s important that I be “right” the majority of the time so the athletes who I am working with stay safe, healthy, and injury-free so that they have the highest probability of success at reaching their goals. In fact, once could say that athletes do actually look to me, as a coach, to be right!! This being said, I am a coach who has been coached by another coach the majority of my time in endurance sports, and there’s a reason for that. Even I - a full-time, professional coach - do not have all the answers and I benefit tremendously from the input from someone else’s knowledge and expertise.
My Coach Tip this Tuesday is this: If you are coached, please use your coach for all of their knowledge and expertise and walk hand-in-hand with them down the path to your goals. It can be *very* scary to “turn the reigns over” to someone else, but pick the *right* someone else for you, and you will have an incredibly strong ally on your side and a big “secret weapon” in your arsenal helping you reach success in whatever goals you set. They will help you reach BEYOND your comfort zone and into the GOAL-SMASHING zone. A coach can help you manage, organize, and OPTIMIZE all of the many pieces that make up your life as an athlete - family life, work life, athletic training, racing, nutrition, hydration, bodywork, rest/recovery, and more. Work together as a TEAM so you can collaborate and find the best path forward for YOU. No two paths to any goal are the same, and a good coach can help you successfully navigate that path. In a good, strong coach-athlete relationship, both the athlete AND the coach will always be learning, evolving, and growing together.
Yes, indeed, keep an open mind and always cultivate a learning mindset so that you are open to the MAGIC that can help you reach dreams that you never thought were possible. :)