Sunday, March 8, 2015

Stay Coachable

Me: "Hey Little Johnny, I'd like to see you try to maintain a four-beat kick here. When   you allow your feet to cross over like this..." *demonstrating a cross-over kick with my arms*, it's throwing your hips out of whack. You don't have to kick hard, you don't want to wear yourself out, just maintain..."
Little Johnny: "I think what I'm doing is fine.
Me: *thrown aback*... "Well, okay then! Carry on!
When I was young, I was always looking for a way to improve technically and tactically. Being 5'8" with short arms doesn't leave a lot of room for stroke inefficiency if you want to be a fast swimmer. Recommendations were always welcome, even if they weren't implemented.

Early in my career, my parents sent me to a training camp that did underwater stroke analysis and spent a lot of time and energy on drills to improve technique. I worked with coaches and more experienced swimmers to tweak and adjust form and training. As a teen, leisure reading included Doc Councilman's book "The Complete Book of Swimming", and a first edition of Ernie Maglischo's "Swimming Faster".

It was the combination of being coachable AND having competent coaches that made my modest successes possible.

It's interesting because, now that I'm back in the coaching business, I see so many athletes that take technical feedback as criticism. I've certainly had my share of dud coaches along the way, but I never felt I was above coaching and learning - even the duds had lessons to teach.

Perhaps somewhere along the way, in our quest to raise children capable of independent thought and critical thinking, we've raised defensive, cynical youths incapable of admitting ignorance and gracefully accepting assistance. Maybe I just expect the response to feedback to be a smile and a "Thanks, Coach!". Maybe Little Johnny was just having a bad day. Maybe I'm just all wet. I don't have answers here, just thinking out loud.

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1 comment:

theartistformerlyknownasgeorge said...

That's a pretty generous analysis of the issue.

I have spent a lot of time working with youth and I now refer to the current batch as generation butthurt.

They have been fed so much crap about their specialness without any expectations and simply cannot handle critique. They are simply wimps.

Of course there are exceptions, but they are that.