I received a lot of positive feedback about last week’s post about re-evaluating expectations when returning from winter break. I also received some indifferent feedback about meeting your goals and expectations. I appreciate all the feedback I received!
I do want to revisit this topic again because I think it is important to provide coaches out there with some strategies and tools they can implement when encountering situations like this. First off, I’d like to share some feedback I received when I was working on a project a couple of years ago.
The scope of my project was to ask post-collegiate throwers why they continued throwing after graduating from college. I was really fortunate to interview three American Olympians for the project. I cannot share their names or the events they competed in because it would give away their anonymity (and would show poor ethics on my part).
While I was conducting the interviews, I asked everyone the same follow-up question about how much time each individual spent training per week and season. When I interviewed the Olympians, I asked them how much time they spent training for the respective event per Olympic quad.
The first thrower told me that he spent approximately 10 hours training per week. That included both throwing and weight room sessions. He would train for 48 weeks a year, so approximately 480 hours a year. The second thrower told me he would spend between 30-40 hours a week for 48 weeks. Quite a bit more than thrower 1. Finally, the third thrower told me he would complete 10 training sessions per week. When I asked him how much time that took per week, he did not share that information with me. He also did not tell me how many weeks a year he trained. If he trained at least 10 hours a week for 50 weeks, that would equal about the same amount of time spent training as thrower 1. I hope you are still following along…
I’m sharing this information with you for a few reasons. First, I believe in the goal-setting process and accountability. When I would spend time with my athletes putting plans together with them for the indoor or outdoor seasons, we embedded accountability metrics along the way. Throwing far is one thing, but if you don’t prepare both physically and mentally for the task ahead you are not giving yourself the best opportunity to throw as far as you are able to. I was never going to have my athlete’s train 30-40 hours a week at the Division III level. Even if we wanted to, there wasn’t going to be enough time each day when you take in to account how much time an athlete sleeps and the time they spend in class!
Second, I’ve had plenty of athletes tell me they wanted to be great and that they wanted to throw far. However, when I or their teammates tried to hold them accountable to their goals and plans, things would fall apart. I’m all for supporting my athletes, but there does come a time when a serious heart-to-heart conversation needs to take place. Making progress is one thing, but missing steps along the way is not going to help.
Third, every athlete is different and should be treated accordingly. The three Olympic throwers I interviewed all had very different training philosophies and training programs. What works for one athlete might not have worked for the other. The same can be said about our collegiate throwers. What works for one might not work for another. That is the great thing about coaching. Our circle is like a classroom. We need to differentiate our coaching in order to meet the needs of our throwers. In order to get the best out of them we need to adapt our coaching to meet them where they are.
I share all this with you this week because if you are truly working towards accomplishing your throwing goals I congratulate you! However, if you talk a big game but don’t follow-up with your actions you have plenty of time to right the ship if you will. If you truly want to be great, then do great things. Take care of your body, get the proper rest, fuel your body, get your training sessions in, focus during practice. I promise you will give yourself a better opportunity to be great and become the thrower you achieve to become.
Dr. Charles Infurna
Charles Infurna, Ed.D., is the owner and lead coach of Forza Athletics Track Club. Dr. Infurna has coached National Record Holders, National Champions, All-Americans, and Conference Champions at the Post-Collegiate, Collegiate, and High School level.