Sometimes I feel like I could be both the genius and laughing stock of the coaching world. I’m always experimenting and my fall back is Orn the Coach who rules with an iron fist. So either you see me doing experiments or you see me with a crazed look in my eye. Today was an experiment day…actually, I’ve done this before but today I really tried to get myself to shut-up when I felt like I was being too, “coachy”. It’s not a bad thing to be “coachy” but for the sake of this exercise it was. We’ve all heard them, the coaches who use their volume in their voice to exude a certain level of authority, like the ones on hockey benches yelling every single play by play. What they’re saying might not even need to be yelled but if they’re not yelling, it’s not effective in their eyes. I am such a coach at times. On good days I yell motivation, on not so good days, I’m yelling everything. Training athletes in a weight room has a certain amount of risk, weights can be dropped, people can bump into each other, it’s really not a great place for kids freshly let out of school, ready to conquer the world…only to be confined into a small room…again. So today’s experiment took some risk but had really good results.
When I went to the Sport Summit in June, I felt I represented a side of sport that came after the whole “get them into sport” phase. I did not really relate to Sport for Peace or even for Development but I was looking into ways on how to solve our own crisis, 70% of kids will drop out of competitive sport by 13. Many solutions included a ton of random games, something which I never did during my training although we did “fun” things. Why did we need to play all of those games? How is a competitive athlete to respond to partner push-ups? I feel it deeper. Not every athlete that goes into this sport is going to come out with a medal. For some coaches this is okay, for they have a goal to create winners and are paid to make winners. I think my strength came in the fact that I had very strong coaches who, no matter what development level, made sure you were there because you enjoyed it. You worked hard because you enjoyed it. We had an annual cardboard box derby, a ski camp, club movies, sleepovers, Olympic marathons…they were just events to me but as a coach mean something much different now. They were the alternative to those who wouldn’t get medals. Everyone who left the sport would at least leave with something.
Today I wrote the workout on the board. I put as much detail in to make it safe but left enough out to make them think. I too did the workout. I wasn’t answering questions, just showing them process. In an Orn setting, there is very little talking. Today was not an ideal Orn setting. But I did notice something. There was no talking while doing the exercise, just the in between. There has been a clear distinction made as to when it’s appropriate and when it’s not. I don’t have problem with that. Another thing, some people noticed the benefit of working alone versus working in a group. There was discussion on what a good weight would be for the number of reps needed. All questions asked amongst themselves. I have to sit back sometimes and remember that this isn’t boot camp or military training. I can expect them to fold their sheets perfectly or align their shoes by size but it’s not necessary. What’s necessary is they develop and understand how to train. This can’t be done by talking all the time or yelling or hovering or setting such strict guidelines there’s no room for individuality.
So how does this relate to the Summit? Varied programming is important but so is the delivery. I didn’t need to play workout games for them to have fun but they had fun testing themselves. Some exercises they did lazily, only to realize they definitely need to do them right. Trial and error can only happen when it’s permitted to happen. Coaches need to be willing to make changes in delivery. Coaches who can grow, will grow their athletes. Grow always.
On that note, I’d like to leave you with a pre-stretching spontaneous dance party.