Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Changing of the Duck Pond Guard. Again.

The "Biscuit" In A Bathroom Stall has quickly become the most viewed post in the history of the Duck.


I guess there is a certain promise of stinky goodness in the title that I doubt is actually delivered.  At least I have some insight into what drives traffic across the site.
I know this is not what they were hoping to see.

Recently, I have started and in some cases finished a lot of posts that I chose not to publish.  In part because I was using the written word to work through some personal decisions and in part because they were, frankly, boring.  Boring as they may have been, they were extremely helpful to me in dealing with transitioning between coaches.  I read back over them recently and I wanted to air my thoughts on my recent experience.

Week One of WEF is in the books and I have started with a new coach.  I did work briefly with someone this fall but truth be told, it was a terrible match.  I learned a little something though.  Coaching relationships are complicated.  I parted company with DW for reasons that I have already discussed, and for one that I didn't mention: financial considerations.  DW was at the upper end of the price scale.  I can say that if money were no object, I would probably have strongly reconsidered my decision to leave.  There were a few things wrong in that relationship, but there were a lot of things that were right.  One of those things was the way I responded to him.  I found myself genuinely motivated to do what he suggested and listen to his advice.  Another was the fact that in the time that I worked with him, I saw real results.  Unfortunately, as mentioned in a previous post, I am trying to find ways to lessen the impact of my job and cutting my expenses is one of them.  Having one of the most expensive coaches available to me is not the way to do that.
DW's words were written on the fridge and on my arm. They always made an impact.

By contrast, the person I hired to replace him initially, had the opposite effect.  Why?? Beats me, but that was the way it went down.  I really liked her in the initial interviews but with each passing week that we worked together, it became more and more apparent that we were clashing.  Soon, I found myself in a situation where whatever she said was the opposite of what I wanted to do.  I felt like the dynamic was becoming toxic and my training/fitness and mental well-being were paying the price.  I parted company with her after just a few weeks.  I pondered how I could have misjudged the dynamic so much but ultimately, chalked it up to a learning experience.

Fortunately, there was someone else who could not take me on at the time of my initial search that would have been my first choice otherwise.  I started with him this week.  I find a lot of similarities between him and DW but also a few key differences.  He is more accessible, for one.  He strikes me as less elite, though in reality I think that is only a perception based on the accessibility.  He reacted surprisingly well when I threatened to put spiders in his bed, a go-to threat reserved for whatever fitness professional I am working with at the time.  (The only one who actually worried was a personal trainer a few years back that was my roommate.  I think it was effective on him because his bed was actually down the hall and we did have a lot of spiders.)  Though by no means cheap, he is much more affordable.  (You do get what you pay for sometimes.)  But the similarities.. or should I say similarity... are what's most important.  I find myself listening, trying, and positively reacting to his input, even before we had formally started.

With coaching, the relationship involves trust, communication, motivation, perspective, etc.  In some ways it is a very involved interpersonal relationship, and yet it is just business.  It is not a marriage.  If it is not working, end it and find one that will.  Staying in a dysfunctional or toxic coaching relationship can do unnecessary harm and is pointless.  As soon as you realize it's not a good fit, don't waste any more of your money or their time and energy.  Terminate the relationship as honestly and fairly as you can.

HOWEVER, I also believe that there is a learning curve for both coach and athlete.  The greatest gains come when you can stick with the program for successive seasons.  Athletic development does not happen overnight and the longer you are with someone, the more subtle the relationship will become.  Your coach is not there to tell you what you want to hear.  You can and should expect moments of disagreement.  These things need to be worked through and worked out.  If the relationship is yielding positive results, don't bolt over something trivial.  Rather realize that this is a major relationship in your life, for me ranking right up there with your closest friends and probably your boss (or teacher if you are still in school).  It is a disservice to yourself as an athlete and unfair to your coach to bounce around too much.  But it is an even greater disservice to stay in a negative relationship.  The key is to know the difference.  Sounds like most aspects of life, huh?
Watch your back Pitino!  Wilbur would be happy to coach any sport that involves a ball!!

2013... Welcome DD.  (He would be BS but I just can't foresee typing that with a straight face so I am going to abbreviate his nickname.)  DD, you have my full attention.

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