Be Coachable (Originally Published May 16, 2008)

May 17, 2008

 

 

 

 

Over the past 3 years, I have instructed a number of dragon boat coaches at DBC Coaching Courses throughout North America. I have been impressed by not only the personal qualities of these individuals, but also by their genuine concern that they are offering the best possible experience for their athletes.Invariably, discussions at these clinics turn to anecdotes about specific experiences these (almost always) volunteer coaches have in the course of a season. In general most coaches have encountered;Criticism about crew selection and the feeling that no matter who they put in the boat they will receive negative feedback and in some cases personal attacks.Second guessing about technical components such as stroke rate, placement of crew members, stroke mechanics, and general undermining of the coach, particularly if the coach is a female.Interference from "team captains" and board membersHuge volumes of emails about items of very small consequenceI can tell you that, at its absolute best, coaching dragon boat is not as fun as paddling dragon boat and that because of the layers of personal dynamics generated by 20 people it consumes you. Before you criticize your coach, particularly to fellow team members (this is most destructive to team dynamics and almost always gets back to the coach third hand) consider the effort and sacrifice your coach is making on your behalf. Dragon boat is a team sport and as such there will be many times that what is best for the team is not 100% what is best for you.My experience has been that the best athletes are by far the easiest to coach. Max Tracy, one of our most talented Dragon Beasts, never offers anything but suggestions which are either positive or constructive in nature. I once went to sit Max in a race in Ottawa, thinking if I rested him in the semi-final he would be even fresher and stronger in the final and it would enable me to get another rostered spare into a race. Because no one likes to sit, I started to explain this to him and he cut me off and said, "I'll do whatever, don't worry about me." (Bear in mind, at this point Max did not know he was racing the final - and he didn't ask.) It made my life a lot easier - he had no idea about the multiple issues I was dealing with at the time. He then went out and stood in the marshalling area collecting ID's and sweat tops and supporting his teammates. Your best athletes always put the team first.Look at yourself before you criticize the coach or say "this isn't the best thing for the team." Maybe it is better for the team - it just isn't better for you.Be coachable, your team will be benefit.

 

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