I’m not being modest when I say I was surprised when asked to contribute to a blog about rowing let along about coaching. If anyone reads this, I assume their first thought will be, “who is this guy?” I believe I’m one of those coaches that people might recognize at a regatta, but don’t really know who I am or what experiences I’ve had. I’m not going to include my resume, but I’ll say I’ve been coaching this sport for 22 years at various levels.
I believe my purpose is to help people. Yes, I want to win. Yes, I want to help people win. But really, at my core, I want to help people. As a parent (I have 4), I believe that the lessons we teach our children will benefit them later in life. We teach them to walk and how to properly use a toilet and how to share and not to touch a hot stove. Some of that is to help them now, but most of that is to help them later. Who wants to hire the adult that isn’t using the toilet properly? Not me.
When we teach our athletes lessons, we want to see the benefits of those lessons now because we want to win races this season. I would challenge that we may not be teaching the right lessons to our athletes. Our sport demands a high price for competitive success. Are we teaching what it means to have a good work ethic? Are we teaching our athletes how to be accountable and how to respectfully hold someone else accountable? Are we being realistic in our expectations? Are we being too easy on them when they need to be pushed more? Are we giving them the responsibility of being an adult while also allowing them the freedoms that brings?
It is very rare that we get feedback from our children or our athletes. It’s even more rare that we get that feedback at a time when we can either make a change or double-down. It’s so rare, that I have a folder where I keep the written evidence. It’s those notes that help get me through the hard parts of this job and there are a lot of hard parts.
My current coach would ask me for a Productive Action (PA) based on this writing. My PA will be to evaluate the lessons I’m teaching my athletes to make sure I’m doing everything I can to help them. What will yours be?