This post is for the athlete, because you’re the one person out there looking for someone to help guide you on your journey. I’ll probably talk about the process of selecting coaches on a regular basis, but after a conversation I had during a new client interview (or as I call it, my onboarding process) I wanted to address it now. I pride myself on hearing things that I might not be looking for, but today I heard something that was detrimental to my development as a coach, but also detrimental to the athlete/coach relationship within my coaching philosophy.
I met this lady when she contacted me via Facebook messenger. She reached out to me because she wanted to talk. She wanted to talk to me about what my coaching expectations are and who I am as a coach. So my normal first conversation with someone is probably 90% about their personal information and 10% about coaching. I know most coaches do the reverse of that and ask questions like, “When is your next race?”, “What are your goals?”, and all that stuff. But I think there’s no better picture for seeing what an athlete can accomplish within the race season than getting to know them as a person. So I did what I always do- I asked her questions (the same ones I’d ask anyone on this earth that I cared about having a relationship with). We talked about (her life, her job, what was important to her, etc.) and also about her significant other. When we talked about her significant other, it occurred to me to ask her more about that person. (If I’m trying to create a relationship with this unique individual (whom I don’t know) how can I determine how this relationship should be?) So it came to mind, let me ask her about her relationship with her spouse. What it looks like, what it means to her, and why she values her relationship with that person. I think I also asked her what she valued the most when she met her spouse. The information that was given was that she valued the smile, sense of humor, dependability, consistency, and her spouse made her feel safe and secure. And I realized then that these, the things she coveted about her spouse, are the things that have to be important to me if I plan on cultivating a meaningful athlete/coach relationship with her for the future. If I want to create longevity for the future. (I want to remind you that coaching is individual- you have to coach each athlete for who they are and where they are.) I didn’t realize how important this was until I realized how disconnected she was from her last coach. The athlete didn’t understand things, he wasn’t dependable, etc. I asked her if she’d ever thought about how the things she valued in her relationship were the total opposite of what she was receiving from her last coach. She said, “You’re right!” He was exactly what I don’t want to have in a relationship. This athlete and I both had an epiphany at the same time. (Holy crap- that just happened.) She was really appreciative of the conversation and I was too. So during that time on the phone, I developed a new skill to see if an athlete was ready to build a meaningful relationship that we could work on together to move toward any given goal. It’s a testament to the fact that if you’re always just listening to your athletes but not really HEARING them, you’ll miss something.
, just like every day, I am listening to my athletes. And I heard something that I think will be an integral part of building future athlete/coach relationships. It was an amazing conversation, and I told her that even if we don’t work together, I’m always here for anything she needs. She replied that she’d gotten more from that one conversation with me than she’d gotten from any other coach. Now that’s how you start off the day.