While the year between then and now has had some rocky points, I started looking back on it and began reflecting on what I've learned. I put some of those out on Twitter like any 20-something does, and realized quickly that there was a lot more that I could say.
Regardless, Coach Boyle has given me the opportunity to expand on what I already have said, which is the following seven things:
- Working with youth is among one of the professions greatest privileges.While many dream of working with professional or collegiate athletes, working with youth athletes is probably the most challenging and most rewarding jobs you can have. I'll admit that I cut my already small salary in half to take this position, and even after correcting the course of the program I still can't afford to move out of my parent's basement. I will say, however, is that at the end of every day, I feel like I receive a higher amount of satisfaction than my former job as a Personal Trainer.
- Kids' brains are like sponges.They are easily moldable and will latch onto every word you say. With that in mind, working with youth athletes allows you a great opportunity to help shape a future generation by teaching lessons of hard work, respect, patience, and perseverance. It also comes with the responsibility of demonstrating those things in your daily life.Kids are simply a mirror of the adults they are around. You can't take that responsibility lightly.
- Make friends with your athletes' parents.Not only are they paying you (in a private facility at least), but they also spend far more time with their child than you do. Getting to know the parents of your athletes gives you a special insight into the environment they live in. Like I said earlier, kids are a mirror of the adults in their environment, so learning more about their lives gives you a greater connection and leads to a greater impact on them.
- Parents and athletes often have skewed views of training due to social media or even the mainstream media.They often do not understand the context for what they see online (albeit there are a lot of coaches that fall victim to this too). Our job as coaches is to educate them as to the context of what they see, and how those pieces fit into the long term development of their child. These conversations are crucial, and will happen more frequently if you take the advice about getting to know the parents of your athletes.
- There is no set way for Long Term Athletic Development.There are so many ways to skin a cat, and you don't have to subscribe to any certain philosophy. Again, what we see on the internet is a piece of a bigger picture, and in order to have an effective LTAD plan you must have an understanding of your athletes, their parents, their sport culture and their needs. Regardless of your approach, the matter is an important one, as it's something often overlooked in the sport culture we live in.
- I know more than I did a year ago, but realize everyday how little I know about training, child development, human connection, and business.These are things that I believe can only be learned through experience, trial, and error. Understanding how little you know is the first step into learning as much as possible from any moment throughout the day.
- There is no limit to the potential for growth.Whether you are an athlete, coach, teacher, parent, or Regular Joe, you can always find self-improvement opportunities everywhere. Film your sessions and watch your body language, listen to the tone in your voice. Reading, writing, and educating others all allow you to develop in some way as a coach and as a human being. As far as I am aware, there is no known limit to the potential for growth for any individual, and constantly pursuing those things is what takes you from good to great.
Those are some major takeaways that I have found.
I could say a lot more on what I've learned; I feel like I could write a short book on it all. While writing these down has probably helped myself the most, I hope it helps someone else as well.