pay it forward

After a very long period of neglect, I’m cleaning the cobwebs and dust off the coaching blog.

Since March of this year, I was swamped with preparing for my first major multi-sport games as part of my day job as high performance director for a Canadian Paralympic Team.  After all was said and done, man that was a big project!  So many layers.  So many interacting agencies. So many conflicting agencies!

The fact that the Paralympic were in Beijing didn’t make it any easier.  The distance, time difference, cultural nuances, laguage issues all made the preparations all that much more important.

I also attended a Sport Science and Technology conference and a Sport Leadership conference.  I’ll post some notes from these as I transcribe them.

Paralympics aside, I think the most valuable exercise of the year was preparing a report on the last quadrennial (a 4 year training cycle inherent in Olympic and Paralympic sports) and a strategic plan for the next two quadrennials.   That’s right, Olympic and Paralympic success is rooted in how well you prepare at the sport admin level than at the coach and leadership level.  Only then can you support serious World Class athletes in their pursuit of excellence.  I heard this from many different places, in many different ways, in many different languages, but the message was the same.

Here’s a challenge for each coach who is serious about the success of their program; are you brave enough to look deeply into your program and do a thorough analysis of the good, the bad and the ugly?  In high performance sport we follow a version of the business world’s SWOT analysis; strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  We than back that up with statistical data on performance variables obtained in competition and in controlled evaluations.  And as if that’s not deep enough, we then dig deep into the program supporting the athletes looking for system errors as well.  From there we set up strategic initiatives and performance benchmarks/goals targeted at the sport administration, program leaders, coaches and athletes.

In the end you, if you’ve been truthful and honest, you have a series or cold hard facts staring you in the face. Facts that are your blueprint to success.  Its a long, hard, ruthless process.  However, if it makes my program stronger and gives us the direction required to be gold medal threats in 2012 and 2016, so be it.

I’m doing the same for my elite athletes who are world class.

To truly be world class, every aspect of my athlete’s preparation needs to be world class as well, including me as their coach.

While an athlete may not know or want to know all the details of the next few weeks of their life, career and training plan, as their coach I need a plan in place looking 4-8 years ahead to ensure their long term development is not left to random chance (aka evolution), but is designed with intelligence.  Without this plan, a coach is reactionary and not proactive. And if you’re not planning for the high performance needs of the future you’ll never be ahead of the curve but constantly catching up and competing for second or lower.

Over the next few posts I’ll pass on some of my “take home” messages for coaches, regardless of whether your athletes are world class or you as a coach are looking to meet world class standards.

Sneak preview;

  • Sleep and high performance
  • Integrated sport psychology
  • Nutritional considerations in high performance athletes
  • The importance of coaching teams
  • and other stuff I can’t remember

In closing, I was talking with some elite level coaches at the conferences and almost all the truly dedicated coaches were coaching becasue they believed they could make a difference AND they believed that in making a difference they were repaying those who made a difference in their lives by passing that on to another.

Pay it forward- its not about me.  Its all about you, and those you will influence through your actions.

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