Cooking Athletes in Near Boiling Water

Its such a dirty word around the athletics track, but I’m going to say it. Please, if you have young children, don’t let them read the following sentence.

A high protein solid exterior, with gooey cholesterol rich insides, the perfect egg and the perfect athlete
A high protein solid exterior, with gooey cholesterol rich insides, the perfect egg and the perfect athlete

I’ve been coaching a group of athletes for over a week now, and I’ve already had three athletes poached off me!

The P word

I’d barely finished my first training session with these guys and other coaches were already sniffing around. Lets put aside the fact that I’m a relatively novice coach, and that due to work and personal training commitments I can only really attend one or maybe two of their training sessions a week. I was the first vaguely qualified person they got introduced to at the track, therefore they should train with me forever, no matter what.

Two of the guys had left within the first 2 days. Working with coaches who had good training programs and a reliable track record of both improving athletes AND keeping them injury free, coaches who could give them much more time and attention than I could, coaches who worked with this calibre of athlete before and who it would probably be better for the athlete in the long term to work with. Its the standard “Grass is always greener on the other side” that lured them away, I’m sure these coaches had been in their ear for weeks about how they shouldn’t be training with me anyway.

The final straw came 5 days later, when the last guy in my group who wants to run any distance over 100m left. He’s a 400m runner, I had a program all written out, it only meant he had to train on his own 4 times a week. Running those 300m reps on his own, in the cold and wet would’ve been good for his mental toughness. Instead, we discussed the possibility of him working with another coach like adults, I talked to other possible coaches and passed him on amicably to someone who would provide the coaching he needs along with a really good training group to work with. POACHING!

I mean I could take this as an indication that my coaching may not be quite as good as I thought it was, maybe I wasn’t providing the athletes with everything they needed, maybe they would be better off with someone else? But then having these thoughts would involve putting the needs of the athlete first. What place does that have in coaching athletics. Clearly, far more important than the athletes well-being and performance is my ego.

Its not like the athlete only has one career, one chance to make everything of their natural talent, a short time frame within which to reach their potential and thus making every decision regarding their training of utmost importance a real serious decision which they could use support and guidance with. No, of course it isn’t. Whats more important is that as a coach I only have the chance to coach hundreds of athletes in my time, and every single one should never leave, until I find that one person talented enough to prove that I’ve been a great coach all along.

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