The Love of Coaching
I am excited to launch my new website in support of Ascend Sports Conditioning (ASC), including a new logo (thanks to Brenda Riddell of Graphic Details!), as well as my new blog, Ascending Higher.The goal of this blog is to inspire.It’s really that simple. Personal coaching of any sort—whether it’s for athletic, nutritional and mental skills training (which is what we do at ASC), life coaching, professional development in the workplace, instruction in the classroom, or any other area, should always aim to inspire the person or people being coached (athletes, employees, students, customers, etc.).Coaching means leadership and leadership means inspiration. I’ll seek to use Ascending Higher as a way to inspire my athletes, but also those who are not my athletes or clients and who are seeking to learn something new about multisport.That something new could be a variety of things, such as new training techniques and workouts, nutritional program design, mental skills training, great areas to train and climb in New England or around the world, race reports, what I have found inspirational in my own daily life in training and events, or a whole number of other multisport adventure topics.Comments and feedback are whole-heartedly welcome, of course.I want this to be a conversation with YOU, so please comment away on any and all of the blog posts and let me know what you’re thinking!
With that stated, I thought a great place to start would to describe why I coach.I think this is a great place to start for two reasons:1) so that you can better understand Ascend Sports Conditioning and what we’re all about, and along the way, 2) help you focus on the key things you should be looking for when selecting a coach.Selecting a coach to work with is a big decision, with the most important factor being how much you can relate to and trust the coach. How you relate to and why you trust the coach is tied directly to what motivates that individual to be a coach.If you can identify with the motivations and reasons why someone coaches, chances are that person would be a good coach for you.
I’ve tried to keep it simple.There are four fundamental reasons why I coach:
Reason #1: A passion for teaching
People always ask me, “So, why do you do it? Why do you coach?”. I never hesitate in my answer, supplying my #1 reason: I love to teach. I love to work with others and help them achieve their goals and do things that they never thought possible.There is nothing more rewarding in life. The most important quality you can have as a coach is being a good teacher—everything else is secondary.I know great, world renowned athletes who are fantastic at their sport, but are not great teachers, and hence they would not make great coaches.Conversely, I know athletes who would consider themselves ‘average to below average’ at their sport, but are fantastic teachers, and hence would make great coaches.While it’s important to have the experience and knowledge of the discipline that you coach (in fact, you can’t coach without that knowledge!), it’s more important to have the skill to successfully communicate that knowledge in a simple, interesting and motivating manner.
Reason #2: Because You CAN do it
When I was growing up, I was not the most athletic person among my peers.In fact, I was often the kid picked last in gym class.Since then, however, I have accomplished many athletic feats, including Ironman triathlon events, scaling high peaks of the Andes, Himalaya and other mountain ranges, cycled countless century rides, and many other things I never thought possible. What drove me was a combination of many things, but mainly confidence in myself. I derived this confidence from self-discipline, but more importantly from interaction with others– from cycling, running and swimming friends, to climbing partners, to supportive friends and family. Through showing me proper technique, going out on long training workouts, urging me to sign up for a variety of events, and being supportive in every way possible, they taught me that I COULD do it. And if I could do it, then anyone could do it! This realization is one of the key things that led me to coaching and what drives me as a coach. With proper self-discipline, good health and an ability to remain injury-free, anyone can achieve any athletic goal they wish, whether it be to complete an Ironman triathlon, run a marathon, or climb to 20,000+ feet. My goal as a coach is to not only supply the physical, nutritional and mental tools for my clients, but also the motivation and reinforcement of self-confidence.
Reason #3: Community and the love of adventure & exploration
Being a multisport coach requires you to maintain a certain level of knowledge and a high level of interaction with athletes, other coaches, and experts in all area of the sport (doctors, physical therapists, nutritionists, etc.). I can leverage the collective intelligence of this community to help my coaching, and at the same time contribute back to this community, helping others along the way.
Being part of this community, however, also has additional important meaning. Simply put, the multisport community is a lot of fun. The folks who are part of this community have an unparalleled zest for life, which you will not find in any other walk of life. There’s an unending desire for adventure and exploration. It’s refreshing and inspirational. It makes you feel alive. There’s an instant, electric connection between people who love do adventure sports. Someone once described it to me: “Once I know someone loves to train hard and get dirty, I know we’ll get along just fine.” I feel the same way. Once I find out someone loves to run, ice climb, kayak, skate ski, or do any other similar adventure activity, I immediately know they share the same attitude and that we have a common bond. Being a coach allows me to not only establish these bonds, but also maintain them and be an integral part of the larger multisport community.
Reason #4: On-going learning
You never stop learning as a coach. This on-going learning is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a coach and one of the main reasons why I do it. I not only continually learn through the formal training and experience I have completed and continue to undertake every year (USA Triathlon, USA Cycling and other courses), but perhaps more importantly, the informal learning I receive from other coaches, experts, as well as my athletes. This on-going learning is critical in a discipline like multisport, where you need to have an understanding of the science and the art of the sport. It’s not only all about heart rate zones, lactate threshold, number of reps and amount of calories, but also the anecdotal lessons learned through experience—the experience of other coaches, experts and athletes. One of the major reasons why I coach is the learning received from these lessons, which enrich me as an individual, and also allow me to be a better, more inspirational coach.
There are lots of other reasons why I love to coach, but most of them would be supporting reasons to the main four outlined above. I am hoping these reasons resonate with you and you will elect to be part of the journey on Ascending Higher.