Rules of Engagement

4951bI don’t hand out a rulebook.  Rules, those pesky “do or do not” statements that authorize and initiate boundaries.  Boundaries that delineate coach from athlete, and perhaps, athlete from ownership.  Ownership over a developmental process that will eventually require autonomy.  Autonomy resulting from the paint that outlines and barricades every coach’s box or sideline.  That sideline which serves as a stark reminder to the coach that they are now rendered useless and out of control, regardless of how earnestly they pace back and forth.

It’s the pacing I want to avoid. Symbolically, this perturbation is evidence of festering anxiety.  Anxiety that acknowledges you have a desire to step into the arena and act on behalf of the athlete.  But the rules of engagement won’t let you.  Those damn rules…..

Because we coaches are relegated to the perimeter, I work to curtail anxiety through the cultivation of a training environment that encourages self-governance and self-sustainability from the onset of each new coach-athlete dyad. However, for this to truly work, the athlete must learn to look inward before relying on the outward.

As such, the commandments listed below serve to remind the athlete that the captain’s ability to navigate the ship through both calm and rough waters rests squarely in their hands.

  1. YOU are the Owner and the business is YOUR athletic career.  YOU’RE in control of both the input and output.  On that note:
  1. Coaches and trainers are not miracle workers, but time is…. so invest yours wisely.
  1. The training program is not simply a checklist to be completed; you are not grocery shopping.
  1. Being sore does not qualify as an injury.
  1. Don’t expect instant gratification from training, quick gains are quickly lost.
  1. Yes you have to eat more than most people to grow and recover.  See point 5 when considering supplements;
  1. Social life takes a back seat to a successful career.
  1. “Good”, “Fine”, “OK” are not suitable responses to the question “How do you feel?” If answered with honesty, your feedback can be the most effective monitoring tool, and will teach you how to mindfully listen to your body.
  1. Being “at practice” doesn’t equate to being present and engaged.  Approach each session with the motivation to learn something new.
  1. Be independent: I will teach you to fight, but won’t go into battle for you.

And when the athlete embraces these recommendations, you will then realize the sideline gives you the best seat in the house for that battle.