My one word to focus on for this 2018-19 season is ‘culture’. I have not dedicated much time the previous couple of years on building a positive culture for our collegiate throwers. I’m not afraid to admit that. I’m actually quite embarrassed about it. Not focusing on it caused problems to fester, and our lack of communication only added fuel to the fire.
Immediately after last season came to a screeching halt, I began to put together a plan that would help grow and nurture a positive atmosphere in which my athletes would feel engaged, empowered, and given autonomy in how to lay out their yearly plans. I reached out to a few of my coaching friends, solicited their advice, and began preparing.
I knew we would have at least four new throwers, with one thrower joining us in the spring. Mid-way through the summer we added a fifth freshman thrower. It is my first season as a coach in which I have only freshmen throwers. It’s a re-start for me, and a perfect time to try something new.
As the semester began, I was wrapping up a book/workbook for coaches and athletes to incorporate during the course of their season. The purpose of the book is to give coaches and athletes an opportunity to share their thoughts, goals, and vision(s) for the upcoming season. I have implemented the activities and action plans with my athletes in the past, but never in a formal format like I have developed.
I shared my enthusiasm for sharing my knowledge with my incoming throwers, sending them a letter indicating as much in July. Once everyone was on campus, I began meeting with each thrower individually (getting to know them, how their classes are going, their transition to college, etc.). I had done this in the past, however I had specific questions I wanted to ask to really figure out what my new throwers wanted to get out of throwing at the collegiate level. I asked them to think about their vision for the season, what they wanted to be able to do at the end of the year, and how I could help them.
Our conversations were nothing short of amazing! I knew the conversations seemed a bit awkward at times, but that was ok. I didn’t want my new throwers to just go through the motions once our season began. I wanted them to really think about what they wanted to get out of the season. I’ve had these conversations with athletes in the past, but this year I asked my throwers to write down their thoughts because I was going to ask them to reflect back on them during the season.
We just finished our third week together. I think our culture is moving forward in a positive direction. We are staying positive thanks to the great bracelets from positive brands.
I have encouraged my throwers to stay positive through the course of the season. We have a long season. Everyday isn’t going to be a great day. We are going to have some bad days. That is ok. I expect a thrower or two to have a bad day every once in a while. It is all part of the journey we are on. It is my job to create a path that gives my athletes the best opportunity to be successful. We are moving along on that path right now. At least through three weeks, we are moving in the right direction.
We have shared our visions for the season. We shared why they are important to us. And we have shared what we want to accomplish together. Here’s to an amazing and fulfilling 2018-19 season!
As always, thanks for reading ~ Charles
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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.