We are speeding into summer, and for many athletes that means camps, traveling teams, advanced training, larger competitions, and even trying a whole new sport. And with these amazing opportunities, will be exposure to many new coaches. For some of you, this could mean a completely different style of training and coaching than you're used to. This is your opportunity to learn how to be prepared for a new coach and a new style.
This is applied to athletes at all levels and age groups. Don't rule yourself out because you are not at a high level of competition yet. These skills can be applied early on in your life so you learn how to adapt to anyone of authority (job, career, etc) or anyone who is leading a team you are part of.
I learned about exposing myself to different coaches and different styles from my dad. He saw the importance of learning from others, and showing respect first. He also knew that throughout my career as a professional athlete, I would need to learn to adapt to a new coach, quickly (hence, just a small sampling above of the different coaches I've worked with over the years!). Being flexible with change becomes very important when you must travel to a foreign country with a coach you've never worked with. I had to learn how to communicate well, and interpret information so it applied to my style. That doesn't mean I was completely immune to being stubborn. We all want to do things our way! I had to remember to humble myself first, in order to be open to receiving information.
Make sure you are being open minded. Getting out of your comfort zone is really important to grow as an athlete and as a person. Creativity is often found in the most uncomfortable of situations. I believe sport and being an athlete is like creating your own painter's canvas. The inspiration is around you, and you have to put in the work to create your own masterpiece.
Be sure to have a conversation with your new coach if you are headed straight to a competition. Having a list of your strengths, favorite moves and positions, and cues you respond best to can be extremely helpful. A coach who is with you only for a short time may not have all the time or resources to scout every athlete on the trip. Make sure you advocate for yourself so they know what is important to you as you prepare for competition.
Often enough, we have become comfortable to a particular structure and setting on our home turf. You may know your warm-up routine by heart, the drills performed, and even the cues your coach gives you personally. Now, you are out of your comfort zone. There are other athletes you've never seen before, drills you've never done, and a coach who is giving direction you may not understand. What if you don't click?
First, be introspective about your own situation. Ask yourself questions:
Do you not like the coach because of their coaching style? Because they are challenging you? Are you influenced by a family member who is being resistant to you working with someone new? Make sure you question why you are feeling a certain way.
Take cues from the athletes around you. Analyze and interpret their social cues about how they are working with that coach. Do your best not go back to the locker room and gossip or complain about how they are making your experience challenging. There are so many things you may not understand about their coaching style now, but it doesn't mean you wont have something very important to draw upon later in your athletic career, and in life.
Sometimes, that coach is having a hard time knowing how they can reach you as an athlete. There is not a one size-fits-all approach for an coach/athlete connection. Often enough, the coach is trying to connect with the majority of athletes, which may not be a style you utilize or are comfortable with.
How can you turn a difficult situation around? Can you be the one who reaches out and to talk with them about what works for you? Don't waist any coaching session. Go above and beyond to speak with a coach if that is what it takes to feel fulfilled. Setting expectations for yourself at a practice session can be invaluable. It can be as simple as coaching yourself to be open to new ideas, criticism, and a new way of someone explaining moves or positioning.
Remember, if a coach or person of authority ever makes you feel uncomfortable, it is always best to communicate those feelings with someone you trust. It is never okay for someone to abuse their position of power.
I want to hear about YOUR experiences where you have overcome situations where you were out of your comfort zone!
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