Category Archives: Success

H is for……..


Ok so I know I have skipped a few letters there but I will go back to them next I promise.

in the meantime

His for……………

holistic
Characterized by the belief that the parts of something are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole, the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the athlete.
Some of the decisions we make as coaches are hard.
It would be very easy to simply look at names and numbers on a page, come up with systems and apply them to those numbers and names. We may even get some results doing things that way but what is the long-term effect?
holistic
Holistic approach
If our job as coaches is simply to produce the fastest swimmers we can then maybe we can afford to simply push the physical side as hard as we can as often as we can. If they break down then we learn and maybe the next wave of athletes will be better from what we learn from our mistakes.
But as coaches we are responsible for much, much, more than this.
I recognise the fact that 90% of the athletes I coach will stop swimming before they achieve their physical potential. I work every day to try to ensure that each and every one of them has the option to continue to swim for as long as they wish. However, the benefits gained from a physically active lifestyle are huge. the physical, emotional, intellectual and lifestyle benefits are immeasurable.
Our job as coaches is to ensure the development of the whole person. We owe it to the athletes in our care to get to know them, to understand what makes them tick. we owe it to each and every one of them to care about them.
Something, it seems, that can easily be overlooked in pursuit of success.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to coach an Olympian, I want to coach multiple Olympians.
But is that the most important part of my job? Not really.
The treatment of the whole person IS the most important part of our job.
Til next time
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Our Life’s Black Box


I like to read, sometimes I read novels but mostly I am drawn towards books about how to improve my thinking, coaching……life. I find it fascinating to look at how other people have developed over the years and seeing if there is anything I can adopt to try and add value to what I am doing.

My favourite book at the minute is by Matthew Syed.

The book is Black Box thinking. Very briefly, it looks at how industries and individuals can learn from mistakes, improve how they operate and ultimately improve performance.

black box

The application to my job are obvious and, the first time I read the book, that is all I applied it too.

However a different application occurred to me as I read through the opening chapters again.

In these chapters Matthew talks about the landing of US Airways flight 1549 (the one that landed on the Hudson river). Specifically he talks about how the Pilot, Chelsey Sullenberger handled the incident.

When crash investigators went to the planes ‘black box’ and listened to the recording of the incident they heard that Chelsey and his Co-Pilot never stopped communicating, they had an open line of communication through the whole incident.

This constant communication allowed the whole crew to function correctly and avoid any lose of life.

Everyone knows the footprints in the sand ‘poem’. Looking back at two sets of footprints as we walk through life with God but noticing that when we go through troubles there is only one set. assuming that God has abandoned us at those difficult times but being told the one set of footprints belong to God and that He carried us through.

footprints

These two stories got me thinking.

What if I was able to go back and listen to my ‘black box’?

What would I hear?

When times have been tough and challenging what has my reaction been? Has there been a constant, open, line of communication between me and God or have I just assumed that I have been abandoned just when I needed the most help?

I know that, sadly, historically I would have to confess its been the latter.

#foodforthought

#TNDO (in everything I do)

til next time

 

The right book……


There are literally hundreds of self help books on the market today. Walking down the aisle in any book store and you will see titles that proclaim to help you achieve happiness, grow your wealth, unleash your inner spirit warrior and any number of other ‘be better’ promises.

They all have one thing in common – they promise to help you be the best version on you that you can be.

I have read my fair share of these books seeking to unleash my inner giant, learn the secrets of highly effective people, train my mind. They are all good books, very well written and, on some levels, very informative. I have no doubt that at some point I will read them again.

However, they all lack one vital ingredient to fulfil their stated goal – making you the very best you you can be.

Now I realise that this blog is, primarily, a swimming/coaching blog.

Really it’s about me and my journey to be the best swim coach I can be. So there is a link to what I’m about to say.

The truth is that all these books have their place, they all serve a purpose but if you are seeking the best version of yourself then your reading the wrong books. You only actually need one book.

The desire for more, the desire for fulfilment is in our very DNA. We are programmed to want to develop, to grow, to be better.

Man’s desire to explain everything, to search out the truth about our world and ourselves, to be the very best versions of ourselves is, in my opinion a twisting of the original reason for the DNA programming.

The more I think about it the more I am convinced that these desires stem from a need for more, a need to fill a hole in our very being.

Our desire to fill that ‘void’ has led to the publication of hundreds upon hundreds of self help books, self help courses, life coaches and everything that goes with that.

This emptiness that we, as a species, feel is (in my opinion) because there is a bigger picture, a better plan for our lives, a blueprint that we need to follow if we really want to be that best version of ourselves.

Where do we find this blueprint? In the one book that we should be reading. A book that predates all those other books we turn to for ‘the answer’

The Bible

The Bibles tells me that God has a plan for my life he wants to make me the best version on me, the version of me that he planned right from the start.

There are no payment plans, no courses to attend to reach the ‘next level’ there is only submission to him and trust in his plan for my life.

P

E is for……


Its been a while since I posted in this thread. I would say I had been easy but, more accurately, I have been overtly lazy.

Anyway, the next instalment in my personal A -Z of coaching is

e is for Empathy

Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another

While on sports coach UK aspire programme last year we were put through a personality test, SDI – strength deployment index, (anyone who is at all interested in it can google it for a little more information)

Anyway, the results for me were that I am a ‘green’ personality – that means I focus on the process. Not a massive surprise to me. However, when I am in conflict I move to Judicious – Competing focused on assertiveness, justice, leadership, order and fairness in competition. Again not a huge surprise.

The surprise for me came when I was told that I lacked empathy.

For a while this really bothered me.

I believe that the ability to understand how your athletes are feeling, to understand what they are going through is essential to be able to coach effectively.  

Coaching as part science part art, I love my spreadsheets, I love tracking data and interpreting it to get better results – the science. 

That’s not all I am though, it cant be.

There is also the artist in me that looks at the athletes and sees the people, tries to understand their desires and emotions and works with them to get the result.

Thats why empathy is the next essential ingredient in the make up of a coach

 

til next time

C is for…….


This is an easy one for me.

is for

CONSISTENCY

The dictionary describes

consistency

as

noun

  1. consistent behaviour or treatment.

“the consistency of measurement techniques”

Or

      2. the way in which a substance holds together; thickness or viscosity.

“the sauce has the consistency of creamed butter”

Try as I might I couldn’t think of of a way to get definition 2 into a blog on coaching. Best I could do was a tentative link to the viscosity of water 😕

So I’ll just have to go with definition 1.

Screenshot_2017-10-20-17-25-24-1.png

Our program is built around a consistent, relentless effort. We work 8/9 pool sessions and 3/4 gym sessions and we train gets every day.

We live by the hashtag #TNDO

Now I understand the need to recover and those sessions are built into the program as and when needed. I monitor fitness and fatigue as closely as I can and back off when needs must. But, we don’t not train…..ever.

Screenshot_2017-10-20-17-26-13-1.png

If you aspire to be world class, you have to behave in a world class way – everyday, everywhere, in everything.

It’s no good deciding to world class today then tomorrow switching off and drifting through. There There is no point trying to be world class in the pool if your lifestyle doesn’t match.

The harsh (?) reality is that we are that which we repeatedly do.

There needs to be consistency before there will ever been success.

The good news is that this is something YOU control, you can decide at any point to adopt those habits that will help you achieve your goals.

If your goals and dreams are big enough they will drive you to make the hard choices and stand out from the crowd and to be exceptional.

It’s all up to you

B is for…..


not-giant-enough-letter-bis for……

Backstroke …. maybe. I seem to have quite a bit of success with backstrokers starting with having been lucky enough to coach an athlete onto the 2008 Olympic team. Then more recently athelets who have broken every Irish junior record both long and short course on the backstroke and I currently coach the fastest Irish backstroker in history (danielle)

Bravery … possibly. I believe it takes courage to stick to your convictions. There will be times that people question you and what you do. There will be times when you question yourself. It wont all be plane sailing. However, in my opinion, it is only really possible to properly assess the process at the end, so its essential that you see it through. I have found that reflection is an absolute must when it comes to what we do. (I started this as a way to assist me in doing just that)

Belief … In what you do. If you dont believe it you will never achieve it (cheeeesy)

To be honest I could have chosen any number of things for this but I have elected to go for

Balance

getty_153081592_970647970450075_79973
How cool are these stone sculptures btw

Being balanced in swimming terms simply means being in the correct body position. cutting down on the drag. We spend countless hours working on body balance, drill after drill after drill specifically to work on the body position.

But……

That would be a little predictable so, for the purpose of this Blog (another B), the balance that I feel has the biggest impact on my coaching is the work/life balance. How do you give the time that is undeniably needed to a career that is not only relentless or the athlete but also the coach? And, at the same time, give the attention to your family that they deserve (and if im honest, I much prefer)

Harper is 9 months old now, she is incredible, crawling around, getting into everything. At the minute Louise is still off work but, come January, when she goes back to work, I effectively become a working, stay at home Dad.

The balance has to be right.

There is no 1 size fits all answer, each of us has to find what works for them but we all need a balance between work and family life or we will never be able to stay the course.

**sometimes making the right choice is the hardest thing to do**