Now that I’m coaching at IMG Academy, I’m having to do something I’ve never had to do in my career for an extended period of time: train alone. Dr. Bondarchuk is still my coach. He writes my programs. I will continue to utilize his mentorship as it pertains to high performance coaching until it is no longer available. But day to day I am on my own now.
Training Alone Requires Accountability
I typically relish the times when Bondarchuk was gone or I was gone. Generally, I am more strict and hold myself to a higher standard than perhaps he did. Rather, I hold myself to the same standard, I just want to accomplish it better than he foresaw. So that means having zero tolerance for excuses and really buckling down and working to feel my way through the movement. So yes, my expectations of myself are higher when I train alone.
In a way, I think this training alone thing may work out spectacularly. There are still a few annoyances in my technique that I’m going to work out, but it’s going well and I love how my throw feels. I’ve biggest technical change since training alone has been on finding when and where to accelerate. Admittedly, I’m sure this began when I first got back to training after my hand was well enough to train. I can’t exactly go all out when returning from a broken hand. So I had to work on technique. They say things happen for a reason, in this particular instance, I agree. For my technique to continue its evolution, this needed to happen. Not the perfect situation going into an Olympic year, but I’ll be fine.
Training Alone Requires Patience
Occasionally (and by occasionally, I mean all too often), I get caught up in trying to throw the bloody thing as far as possible. This behavior tends to leave my technique in the wind after the first couple throws. Yes, ultimately that is the point of our sport, but it is negligent to not work on the movement.
Some people have a natural “feeling”, others can learn it, and some never well. For the right personality, training alone can help develop that feel. For others it is a recipe for disaster. For it to work you have to be intrinsically motivated. Training alone without the right motivation has held back too many of promising post-graduate/emerging elite athletes.Training alone definitely is not for everyone. If you are not intrinsically motivated, you will struggle. Click To Tweet
Training Alone is Your Audition as a Coach
Those with aspirations of becoming coaches, use the time of training alone as an audition. Feel what your athletes will be feeling. Don’t forget to consider all the variables. Find new and interesting ways to get your ideas across to your athletes so that they may understand the technical model you are trying to teach them.
Coaching the throwing events is a puzzle. You can’t coach strict technical models and expect sustained success. It is the job of the coach to figure out your body, mind, and physical technique. But it is also your responsibility as an athlete. If what you’re trying to work on isn’t happening, change up your thinking. Think outside the box. You must be vigorously narrow-minded for your goal. Making changes in your training is not easy to do. Use all or your senses and the technological tools at your disposal. Gone are the days of watching fou-hour-long throwing VHS’s (I’m dating myself here). Everything is literally at the palm of your hand. Utilize it to your advantage and make yourself better!
Coaching Has a Reciprocal Effect
At the same time, I am also coaching some athletes. In addition to Amanda and Dan, who I coach remotely, I also have two post collegiates who I traing with several times a week at IMG. But most of the time it is still just me out there alone before I head to the office. The act of coaching while training has served me very well thus far. They seem to get technical points (nay, annoyances) that I’m working on in my own throw, or vice versa. It’s kept me on my toes for what’s really important inside the ring.
And it also has been fun! The ability to compartmentalize will come in handy as I mentally dip into coach or athlete mode, while being careful not to let one hat overlap into the other because of emotion, etc. It’s a very good mental exercise, indeed.
On to Rio
Very valuable lessons can be learned from training alone if you allow them to come out. Is it the best training situation in the world? Of course not. But you make the best of what you’ve got. Right now, I can say I’m very happy with how my training is going so far. As long as I keep seeing positive improvement program after program, I may just hit my 2016 target.