Joy Duerksen is an avid cyclist and coaches junior high softball and volleyball along with high school varsity girl’s basketball. She's been coached herself from 6th grade all the way through playing four years of collegiate basketball. Although she's an experienced coach, she's new to coaching "adult athletes" and doing much of her coaching online. In her monthly posts, she shares her insight and lessons learned as she gets acclimated to her new career.
I misread a workout a few weeks back that my cycling coach had assigned me. When all was said and done I had missed roughly 4 minutes of effort. I was devastated. Although showered and in my jammies, I wanted to jump back on the trainer and hammer it out. I hate cutting corners. I hate under-achieving. This lack of training time was gently pointed out to me by my coach not as a jab but as an "Oh looks like this was left out." That kind gesture left my lip quivering and eyes pooled with crocodile tears at the fact that I had to be reprimanded. Well, not really, but I was irked that I messed a workout up. My coach knows me extremely well and knows that a simple statement will garner big results. She doesn't need to go all Bobby Knight on me to get me in line.
This is an invaluable lesson for us as coaches. We are probably all mostly Type-A people, slight control freaks, and pretty intense. But our clients have their own way of operating and if we address them in a manner that doesn't match their personality, motivation, and temperament, you could loose a client and more importantly, we could loose a cyclist!
Our working-athletes receive directions all day from a busy boss, nagging spouse, or barking teammate. We as the coach surely do not want to add extra stresses and controls to their already hectic and multi-faceted lives.
Each of us has our own style of coaching which is uniquely our own. However we need to learn the methods and responses of our athletes so that we can temper our teaching/coaching style to meet them where they are at to sustain their engagement in their training. This can actually be tough for us as coaches, pushing our comfort zones and helping us to come up with some deeper motivation than "harden up!"
As a basketball player in college, our coach had 12 distinctly different athletes. When directing me, he just had to look me in eyes, raise his eyebrows and say "Joy..." and I was in line faster than a kid at the ice cream store. One of my teammates, however, had to have their jersey grabbed while being sat down on the bench, and being talked to "loudly". And her reaction? "Ok Coach, got it." It rolled right off her back and her performance, as was mine, was on par with the directions. If these approaches had been directed at the opposite players, there would have been melt downs and free-lancing.
Since we as online coaches do not have much one on one contact with our clients, we must have heightened awareness to the way training diaries are written as well as the language and the tone of emails. In our replies and directions, we should try to match the energy level of the clients. This will help motivate them while still pushing them to levels they never thought they could reach. They will appreciate the common ground and that their coach "gets" them. Sometimes there will be tears, some anger, and a little hurt. But beyond that will be a high level of success and achievement and a sense of WOW, in that they could become even more of an impressive athlete than they already were.
Joy received a B.S. in Physical Education and Commercial Fitness from Pacific Union College and during the summer of 2010, she completed both the USAC Coaching certification and the ACE Personal Training certification in order to pursue her dream of coaching athletes of all levels. Joy is also an avid cyclist. The 2010 season brought Joy into her 3rd season racing as Professional mountain bike racer. She also made the segway into road cycling, racing the majority of the season on skinny tires as a cat 2. She also races cyclocross from time to time and would love to hit up a pump track in the near future. You can learn more about Joy and her company on the Big Wheel Coaching website.
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