I need to know your mind

As your coach, it is always my wish that I can help you to take steps forward to improve your athletic performance in the competition arena. I feel reasonably certain that performance improvement is what you seek and that you expect me to support and guide you to achieve this objective.

My coaching experience, and indeed my experience as an athlete has brought an understanding that, beyond the initial happy days of being a beginner, performance improvement becomes increasingly difficult the higher the goals you seek. Inevitably, performance improvement comes at a cost, and whether you are willing to pay the price will depend on your level of motivation, your resilience and your self-belief. I will work, to the best of my ability, to develop your confidence that if you expend the energy and effort needed, be more exacting in your training process, you will continue to set new personal standards of performance in the competition arena.

It will also depend on how well you understand and trust the motivations, knowledge, style and methodology of your coach. You will need to believe that, if I have assisted others to a high standard for performance, I can do this for you. It’s okay to question and seek clarity on the coaching strategies that I employ, but I want you to know that I think a lot about how to help you, and that I really care. In particular, your well-being is always on my mind. I know full well that breaking through barriers is really hard, and that at times I must push you beyond any level of training that you have previously experienced. I understand your apprehension when I urge you to go beyond the planned limits of your training program. I know how you will feel when you awake the next day, and how fatigue and soreness will you cause you to struggle in training until you recover.

But what I often don’t know is how much training load you can take. I can only judge the limits of your resilience by what I see when you train and what you say to me about how you feel. Yes, it is good information if you tell me you’re tired and had a tough day at work, or had a sleepless night, or that some part of your body is aching. But what you often don’t tell me is what you feel about the bigger picture, your training as a whole, your level of self-belief, and your confidence to rise beyond present standards of performance. I need your thoughts about the entirety of the training program and whether you have confidence in the strategies that I am implementing, or whether you are just going through the motions.

To help you push through the barriers, I really need to know your mind. Please email me, message me, talk to me and tell me how you are coping. When I try to raise the level of your training output, I need you to be honest and tell me how you feel and whether you are okay. Be aware that I am constantly judging your mood and movement quality, and assessing what I think you can achieve on each and every exercise. Never mind what the written program says, I must help you realise your potential in every moment of training, on each and every day. If I can see more kilos, or more sets because you are moving well, I will try to convey this to you, sometimes with subtlety and sometimes with plain speaking. But often I am hesitant to push, not because I fear you may fail, but because I don’t know your state of mind. Instead I must guess whether you are willing party to the challenges that I continually set, or whether in fact you need respite from the harshness of training needed to achieve your own stated goals. I am also aware of the issues I may create by even asking you “are you okay?”.

Ultimately, if you are going to break through to new personal bests, it will only be because you have pulled out all the stops. Making progress is hard, and that is why when we achieve progress we celebrate. If it were easy, there would be little point in being a champion.

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