The athlete’s growth process is by no means linear or clearly defined. In my experience there are three steps of indeterminate length:
- First Step: Your start out on the journey. Basically, you physically show up. You do what you are supposed to do and for a little while you get better. Not significantly better but enough to keep you coming back. That is the “doing the workout” stage.
- The Next Step: Now you not only show up physically, but you are all there in body and in mind. You listen, you absorb what is going on. You process why. You leave the workout thinking about what you have done well and what you can do better. I call that “Training the Workout.”
- The Third step or leap is quite different: Now you think about what you are going to do before the workout, you set objectives and measurable goals for yourself. You are fully engaged and aware. When the workout is over, you review the workout, you reset goals if necessary. You put each workout in the context of the big picture. I call this “Winning the Workout.” When the athlete gets to this level they have a realistic chance of being consistently competitive in the competition.
It is a process. Some athletes spend little or no time in step one or two, they go straight to three and never look back. For others it takes time, maturity, and understanding. Many are called, and few chose to make the champions choice of being at step three. That demands being comfortable with being uncomfortable all the time. As coaches we guide the way to help the athlete make the champions choice. We lead by words and action. If we don’t make the champions choice how can we expect our athletes to?