As I wrote earlier this week, we’re not adequately preparing athletes for the road. So, what should we change? What can do to remedy this situation? It is quite simple, shift the emphasis from preparing the road for the athlete to preparing the athlete for the road.
The road is an arduous journey that takes more than talent. It demands everyone being on the same page. It is not harsh or tough love, it is caring. It is coaching the person, giving guidance and direction. Remember it is a transformational process, not transactional. It is allowing the athlete space to grow and learn through trial and error.
Along the way there will be choices, some quite simple and others complex. We need to help the athlete make informed choices that are best for therm. It is understanding that mistakes and failure in an athletic contest is just a bump in the road, a real learning opportunity to grow and move on. It demands that we as leaders get out of our comfort zone of being the almighty, know it all. We must humble ourselves and understand the athlete and recognize that it takes time for the athlete to grow. It is more than words. If we expect them to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, then we must also be willing to be uncomfortable.
We need to value what matters to the athlete, get past appearances and labels. Give them all the tools they need to navigate the road. Hard intelligent training that thoroughly prepares for the rigors of competition is necessary, not an option. Provide reasonable behavioral guidelines that give them structure and guidance. Give them a working compass oriented to true north, along with a current road map so they can navigate the detours and road closures to be able to get to their destination. In summary, to help your athletes navigate the road it is quite simple – coach your athletes the way you would want to be coached.