Performance Coaches Must Tell the Truth

Are You Willing To Tell The Truth

“Practice! You want me to Practice?” These are the well-known words of a NBA superstar’s interview after he was benched for not attending a practice. When it comes to training, the attitude he demonstrated isn’t to different than many of the athletes and parents of today. It is not that there are unwilling to train. It is they are not willing to do what it takes to make them better even if it means taking away game play.

My question to you is, “Are you willing to tell them the truth about what is most important”?

Before you do that…let’s talk about my experiences.

I often try to attend games, matches and meets of the athletes that come to me to train. I like to show my support, but I also want to get a live look at their physical abilities, sport skills and game play. I strongly encourage any trainer or coach to do the same.

The question I have for you is, “Are you willing to be open and honest with parents and athletes as to what they really need”? I know you will have resistance and in some cases down right resentment, but if you really care, then you need to be honest with them in order to get the results they want. Let me explain more…..

When I watch athletes play, I am looking for a few things I can rank them in terms of a priority for their sport and physical training. If the athlete demonstrates great sport skills but lacks the quickness to make plays, then I make a note of that. If the player has great quickness and overall athletic ability but lacks sport skills, then I make a note. Finally, if the athlete shows a lack of movement ability in terms of mobility and or flexibility, then I note that. What I am basically gathering is the athlete’s strengths and weakness as it pertains to them achieving the goals they wish to attain.

Once I have watched an athlete and see the limiting factor in their play it is easy for me to direct my focus. Sometimes it is simply telling the athlete to practice the skills of the game more. In many cases it is about improving their physical ability so they can take their sports playing ability to a higher level. This is where you run into problems with moms and dads.

In order to truly improve physical abilities, the athlete must be willing to make time to train. The dilemma comes when the athlete is involved in AAU, travel soccer, summer baseball and club volleyball and so on. They simply want to play more because in there mind they can only improve if they play the sport more.

Let’s talk about that point for a moment. The problem with athletes that only play games is they are usually relegated to a position on the field or court. They have certain movements they repeat time and time again and never really stretching their physical skills due to the sport specific nature of the sport and position. This in and of itself causes the athletes to become one dimensional and never really grow outside of their little box. Let’s go back to my main point. When the athlete and his or her parents are asked to spend more time improving the very skills the athlete is lacking, physical in this case, they refuse to give up any playing time.

You, as the performance coach must be willing to explain they will never reach their true potential as a player if they don’t improve the physical skills necessary to raise their game. My guess is you will be able to get through to some parents and athletes, but be prepared to battle with others. It is not your job to make the final decision for them, but it is your job to make them aware of your evaluation.

Too many times athletes fall by the wayside due to not addressing their weakness and areas that need improvement. I choose not to let it go past me if I can offer help. I know many athletes and parents are not going to look at it the way I do, but at least they are aware of it.

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