Under pressure, we do not rise to the occasion. We rise or fall to the level of our training. ~ Urban Meyer
Every thrower has one minute from the time their name is called to enter the circle or step on the runway to initiate their throw. Everyone receives at least three throws. The top eight or nine throwers receive three additional throws in the finals. For the throwers fortunate enough to make the finals, those additional throws are the culmination of hard-work, dedication, grit, and determination. Others might call it luck. Lucky if someone made the finals that shouldn’t have. Some might also call it choking if someone was supposed to make the finals but didn’t. For even more we might say someone exceeded expectations (or rather didn’t throw up to their potential). In my opinion, it may be a combination of all those scenarios.
Entering a meet is relatively easy. You locate a meet to compete in and you pay the entry fee. Fairly painless. Traveling to the meet may be a bit more difficult, depending on how much travel is involved. Throwing in the meet is also a pretty easy endeavor. Just show up really. The most difficult part of the meet comes after you enter and before you compete. How do you spend the time in the middle? That is where champions are made!
As a competitor, my favorite part of throwing occurred at the meets. After speaking to Jud Logan at a meet, he famously said to, “Treat meets as a reward for all the work you put in before hand.” I didn’t really enjoy the process of training for a meet all the time. The mundanity of drills did get boring at times. It wasn’t until I began treating meets as rewards that I started making greater progress in my throws and lifts on the powerlifting platform.
Reflecting back to something I wrote a few months ago, I think about the accountability placed on coaches to ensure their athletes perform to a certain level or expectation. A couple of questions come to mind. How do we define the success of the performance and how are we held accountable to them? Similarly, who defines the level of performance.
One of the reasons I'm working on this project is to further engage athletes in the accountability and commitment departments. Specifically, how coaches can make athletes part of the learning and, ultimately, part of the planning process. I believe it is important to work with the athlete and define as a team what the expectations are, who is accountable for what, and how I as a coach can hold the athlete accountable to their commitments.
When athletes are allowed to provide input and are made part of the decision-making process, a sense of ownership is taken on by the athlete. I wish I would have adopted this methodology of coaching when I first started. Back then I was all about the results and what I thought my throwers needed to do in order to be successful. Today, at Nazareth, I look at the dyad as a 50-50 partnership. We write things down. If an athlete says they are going to do something, and they don't, then they can reflect upon what happened that caused them to not do what they said they were going to do (missed weight room sessions, missed sessions with the trainers, etc.). Of course I take ownership in this process as well. I initiate it. However, I hold my athletes accountable to their commitments. They hold me accountable to mine. They are a very integral part of the process.
When I met with Dr. Chambliss in April, he told me that it was ok if my athletes didn't want to be the best. He told me it was ok if they didn't want to throw as far as I wanted them to. Nobody ever put it quite like that. Honest and to the point. I have always found it very difficult to not hold myself to a higher standard. Certainly I want my athletes to throw well. What is different is that their definition of well and mine have not always been the same. With the implementation of our throwing journal this upcoming season, accountability and commitments to one another will be clearer and understood by all.
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.