The following is a post from YoungTri contributor Patrick LaBrode, a sophomore swimmer at the University of Texas at Austin.
Much of our success as athletes is based on how hard we train ourselves and how motivated we are to reach our goals. But a huge factor in how well you train and compete comes from your coach. Almost every elite athlete has a coach for his or her sport. Coaches are experts in the sport they coach. They know a great amount of detail from nutrition to heart rate zones, which they put together to make you the amazing athlete you are today! And although coaches can be great at giving you a tough yet great workout plan, motivate you through every practice, and help you prepare for your big race, YOU have to put in the work to see the results.
There are so many coaches out there that are amazing at making sets, workouts, and recovery plans for their athletes. But theses sets, workouts, and recovery plans are only the “blueprints” in making a great athlete. And in order to transfer those blueprints to the final products, an athlete has to want to get better. Your coach is there to make you a better athlete inside and out, but he or she can’t make you better if you (the athlete) don’t put in the effort.
My club swim coach from back home used to sit us down after practice and talk to us about attendance and efforts. He would tell us that he could write a million great sets and workouts, but those workouts wouldn’t have any effect if his athletes were sitting on the couch, not showing up to practice. He told us that a set couldn’t be great and effective unless his swimmers tried during practice.
Most coaches cannot completely force their athletes to come to a workout or force them to push themselves harder and harder during a practice. Yes, your coaches can motivate you, but motivation only goes so far. You yourself need to have your own personal motivation to want to work hard day in and day out, to work towards your goals. I know so many athletes that blame their coaches for their poor performance at the end of a season, when I’ve watched then skip practices or not try hard during certain sets. Take the great blueprints your coach gives you and use those to mold yourself into the athlete you only dreamed of becoming.
Another huge part of the athlete – coach relationship is trust. You really need to trust your coach. Training athletes is their job! They are coaching nearly every day, so they know what they are doing. You must listen to everything they say. And when I say everything, I really mean everything! When your coach tells you to take it easy one day, listen and take it easy. In my sophomore year of high school I was running cross-country and swimming for my high school at the same time. My club swim coach told me it wasn’t the best idea to do both at the same time, but I didn’t listen and pushed through. I ended up with a bad stress fracture that decreased my performance and I was tired all of the time. I used to not listen to the little details my coaches would tell me. If they told me to stretch every night or do abs every day, I usually blew that off because I didn’t think it was important. But as I’ve grown older and experienced and learned more from my coaches and training, I understand that everything they tell you to do is important to improve and reduce injury.
So take a couple of minutes to reflect on the type of athlete you are for your coach. If you can improve on being a better athlete for your coach, then you will see great results with your training and performance each and every day!