Conversations with Dave

A few years back I was working out with Dave, my personal trainer. We started to discuss the impact of coaching on our playing.

He’s a lifter, a big guy, but lean. You can tell he has put in his time in the weight room.

Anyway, he mentioned that since he has started training other people it has completely changed him as an athlete. He can look at the workout posted for him and make adjustments, tweek things and make the days’ workout fit him better.

What ensued from there was a discussion of the value of learning to coach while still playing the game; the value of being able to teach and the “ahas” that emerge for an athlete about her own game after trying to help another person develop.

You see college players who make strides after learning to coach in the summer at an elite soccer camp where they really had a chance to teach. In trying to make others see, they saw more for themselves.

It makes them better players.

But, Dave also made another point.

An equally important point. “It’s also good that I have kept training even after I have switched to making my living from coaching and not from competing”, he said.

“Why”, I said, “because you can improve your own workouts so much?”

“No,” he explained, “I am more forgiving of my clients mistakes. When I look at the sheet on the wall I realize I cannot do all of it any more. Somethings I adjust the workout because I can’t do the same things anymore without hurting myself.  Things I used to do easily. It makes me more forgiving of my clients and more understanding that some things are just hard for some of us to do. I judge less.”

The words have resonated with me for the past week.

I hope I too will be more compassionate towards athletes and remember just how difficult it is to execute a skill in the midst of physical and psychological pressure of a competitive match.

I accept that the professionals are compensated to bear that pressure and to some degree to live with our judgments, but our youth and high school athletes deserve a less exacting critic and a more forgiving fan.

I intend to be one.