A is for…..


I thought that I would try to start a new series of blog posts.

‘The A – Z of coaching’

Now I should point out that I dont intent for this to be a ‘how to’ manual, or even overly in depth breakdown of how I coach. Rather, I intend for it to be a series of thoughts about elements of coaching that I feel resonate with me.

So here goes….

Ais for……..

I could have went for Aerobic (or Anaerobic for that matter), then I thought maybe Attrition was a better word, a word that ment something to me personally. By attrition I was thinking the relentlessness of the grind, but when I looked up the meaning of attrition it said

the process of reducing somethings strength or effectivness through sustained attack or pressure

(kind of the opposite of what a coach does or tries to do)

But thats not the attritional bit for me, the part that gets tiring , the part that can reduce you effectiveness is maybe the relentless nature of sport, the no rest til we’re done approach, the no compromises.

But those things are the things I like about sport, they are the reason I coach, I like the honest of it. I guess I dont find it attritional at all really. So back to the drawing board….

Then it struck me….. Attitude.

Wonderful-Attitude-Wallpaper-Attitude-Is-Everything-Life

In the squad system we have adopted in Larne, the difference between being in the Junior National squad and the age group program comes down to attitude.

I dont believe in talent as a concept, I believe that everyone have the potenial to achieve all they wish to in life if they work towards it.

It wont be easy, there will be challenges, there will be failures along the way. How close you get to achieving your goals depends on how you react to these things…….and that comes down to attitude. 

The right attitude makes athletes coachable, and it makes coaches approachable. 

Your attitude impacts on every area area of your life, your performance, relationships and everyone around you.

We have a choice every day, we can choose to have an attitude of self-encouragement and self-motivation or we can elect to have one of self-defeat and self-pity, we all face this choice and the important thing is to remember that its not what is happening to you that is important but how you respond to those things. (easier said than done)

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is key to success

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Man Up


So, it appears everywhere I turn lately, men are getting a hard time, or, more specifically, masculinity is getting a hard time.

Masculinity is a set of attributes, behaviours and roles, generally associated with boys and men. It is both socially defined and biologically created.

The attributes we generally associate with masculinity generally fall into 2 groups

  1. The stuff we wrongly think is exclusive to men
  2. The stuff that really is exclusive to men (but which doesn’t do us any good)

In this first category we put things like courage, stoicism and a competence in traditionally manly tasks. The only problem here is that, having seen my wife give birth, this category is nonsense. In the second we put what we can probably best refer to as ‘emotional reserve’ but is really ‘emotional incompetence.

I believe that, inherent in the way a great many of us have been raised, a key feature of masculinity is an inability to answer the simple question – “what’s the matter”

As a man it feels somehow less masculine to be able to say, “actually yeah there is something I need to talk about”

Masculinity has somehow been turned into a negative thing.

Who says that men can’t cry?

Who says men can’t open up and talk about their feelings?

Who says that doing either of these things make anyone less masculine?

Surely being able to openly discuss your feelings takes a great deal of courage!

lets talk

I’m not suggesting that men should cry at the drop of a hat, that would annoy everyone, but being able to talk honestly about things that are affecting you is something that everyone should feel they can do.

Everyone has problems at some point in their life – its normal

Everyone goes through things that they find tough – its normal

In a world where the largest killer of men under 40 is suicide it is high time we reclaimed the word masculinity, embraced our differences, opened up about our problems and talk to each other.

I have been through some pretty dark times and, in my experience, your friends don’t judge you the way you fear they will. The hardest thing to do is take that 1st step and start the conversation but once you do you realise that you are not alone, that people do care.

#worldmentalhealthday

#itsoktonotbeok

#itsgoodtotalk

There are people out there who care and can help, if you want someone to talk to check out CALM

World-Mental-Health-Day-10th-October

Parents in Sport Week


Date :- 2nd – 8th October 2017

 

This is week is parents in sport week

The primary focus of parent in sport week is to highlight the valuable role parents play (and the positive influence they have) in ensuring that young people develop to their full potential and enjoy their time playing sport. Parents play a pivotal role in sport and young people depend on their support and encouragement.

I have, in the past, possibly been a little tough on parents (see my last post maybe). If this is the case then it is only because, as a coach of a youth team, I know 1st hand how important parents are in the development of their children. I witness the positive influence many, many, great parents have on their young aspiring athletes.

I understand the power a negative word or a negative outlook by parents has on the dreams and ambitions of many children.

Larne Swimming Club is an athlete centred, coach driven program designed to help every child reach their full potential in a safe and encouraging environment.

This would not be at all possible if it wasn’t for the tireless work that goes on behind the scenes by a small number of parents who sit on the committee and run the administrative and financial sides of the club. These parents set aside the personal ambitions they have for their own children to help the club develop every child within it. The coaching team is very ably augmented by a team of parents who come on poolside to help deliver the best program possible.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every volunteer parent who assists with the smooth running of the club, without you youth sport in general, and Larne SC specifically, would cease to exist.

 

I would also like to thank my own mum an dad for everything

The Coach is always right…….


I originally posted this in 2015 but a few things have been playing on my mind in recent weeks and I thought I should maybe revisit it.

Obviously I can really only speak about my experiences in my sport but, the vast majority of swim coaches in Ulster are largely volunteers, parents who started coaching because there was a need, ex swimmers who love the sport and wish to put something back. People who put aside their personal ambition to help fulfill the dreams of the athletes under their guidance.

When I started swimming in a club at the age of 10 my mum took me and my sister to every practice, she sat and watched and listened to every word the Coach said (probably to make sure that I didnt misbehave)

One of the greatest lessons that she taught me, was that my teachers and coaches are always right…even when they are wrong

I know for sure there were times that I felt that I was hard done by by decisions made by coaches.

I know also that there were times that she felt like I was not being treated fairly, and I suspect that that hurt her.

The thing is i never once heard my mum talk negatively about any of my coaches or teachers. She kept up to speed on what was going on and what was being said, but never voiced her negative thoughts, that would have certainly influenced how I viewed my swimming and my role in the team. 

She was teaching me a respect for authority that I have never forgotten.


Now I did witness some parents who took a different route and looked for any and every opportunity to jump down a coaches throat, when something didn’t go perfectly for their child. 

It seemed like those kids just went from team to team every year in search of the “perfect” coach. 

There is only one problem with this approach, there is no such thing.

I believe that today, there is very little respect given to the coaches and teachers of youth sport. Parents are quick to defend their kds and voice their disapproval during the car ride home after training or meets or at the dinner table. 

How can we expect our young athletes to return to training and not mirror the attitudes their parents have taught them?

If parents show disrespect to the decisions that are being made in their kids sporting careers by people with more knowledge and who have the long term best interests of their development at heart, why should they then respect any authority figure?

The long term problem is that these young athletes may not learn to cope with setbacks and the truth is, life at times will have setbacks! 

How parents  handle those disappointments can set their kids up for success if the teaching opportunity is recognised.

The last point is this…

Coaches and teachers have studied and spent time gaining experience in their chosen field and parnets (myself included now 😊) must learn to trust that what the coach does is for the best of each and every young athlete under their tutilage. 

Coaches will largely have a better understanding of the long term development of athletes then parents. We (parents) may not understand why certain decisions are made but do we need to understand? Surely the need is to trust that the coach knows best.

Youth sports clubs must always be coach driven, athlete centred and supported by parents/friends/family etc when parents start to dictate and thinking it is about them then we have a problem…

The flip side of this is obviously that as coaches the onus is on us to always act in a way that builds trust, we will undoubtedly make decisions that upset people and we should always be willing to discuss, in the appropriate setting, the rational behind these decisions.

We are very good at policies and practices that protect the children and young people in our programs (and rightly so) but this at times throws into stark contrast another question…….who protects the coaches?

Now ……….. that’s a question for another day

P
till next time

Change the world


A retiring navy seal gives one of the most inspiring speeches I have heard.

If you want to achieve your goals…….start by making your bed in the morning.

Its only a little thing but if you cant do the little things right you will never be able to do the big things.

This is great advice for life and sport.

All those little things coaches push over and over are important – essential – if you are to achieve your goals.

If you can look back on each training session and know that you did the small things right, if you can face challenges and learn from mistakes, if you can set your sight on that one goal and never ever give up, then you will be successful.

I love this video, hope you do too.

Have a great sunday

(Go make that bed)

TRUE GRIT


What separates athletes who achieve their full potential from athletes who struggle to achieve all their ‘talent’ suggests they should?

Is it an athletes ability to learn new skills quickly? their IQ? that pushes athletes to excel in their  sport or is it something else?

How often do  we see more ‘talented’ athletes fair worse than those with arguably less technical  ability?

So what is it that makes the difference? Angela Duckworth suggests the difference is GRIT

true grit

She defines grit as

Passion and perseverance for very long term goals

Grit could have more of an impact on success that other things like family income, social status etc. do

Gritty athletes work every day in pursuit of their goals, they work not just for the session, not just for the week, or the month but month  in month  out year after year to  achieve their goals.

As coaches what can  we do to develop  gritty athletes? simple…..we need  to be gritty as well. Our grit must be in  the pursuit of  developing grit in the athletes in our charge. Every day we must be demanding of excellence, not just in the set or session but day after day, week in  week out.

The good news is that if  you haven’t been gritty up to now, you can start ….. a study by Dr. Carol Dwerk in Stanford says that the concept of a growth mindset is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed and it can change with you  effort. Simply put, if you have failed to show grit in the past, you still have time to  develop it


Adventures in Swimming

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