Athletes at a Transition Point

  • May 19, 2015

Coach Responses

When your athletes reach a transition point, what type of guidance or advice do you give them?

Share your tips and best practices!

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Coach Terry Radchenko – Track and Field – Toronto

“There are numerous keys to success including proper nutrition, sleep, consistency in training, recovery and believing in yourself …just to name a few.

When transitioning, I believe communication moves to the top of that list. An athlete and a new coach will have to get to know each other quickly and the best way to do this is to talk. Both the coach and athlete should ask a lot of questions and ensure that they are truthful with their answers.

What expectations does each of you have from the other? What are your short and long term goals? What type of mileage have you done in the past? How have you built this mileage? Have you had any injuries? When and how did they occur and how did you recover from them? Recent blood test results? What have been some of your favourite and least favourite workouts? What was your typical pre-race session? Hopefully, this type of communication will be ongoing in your new relationship.

How have you been sleeping? What are your stress levels like? Did you eat enough today? Do you feel like you’re coming down with something? Any little nagging injuries? In cases like these, less is often more but if your coach doesn’t have all the necessary information they won’t be able to provide the best development plan for you.

A coach is there to help and guide you. The more information they have the better chance they have of helping you continue to progress, reach your goals and find out what you are truly capable of.”

Coach Amanda Miles – Basketball – Markham – 10+ years

“Transitioning is tricky but it is important not to tell them what to do but give them options and let them and their families make the decisions for what is best for them.

Every family has different situations so you can’t say do x or y or z but if you show them the options and tell them what to focus on when evaluating those options.”

Coach Trinette Goarley – Figure Skating – Barrie

“I always suggest other avenues in a sport which satisfies their interests the most. Getting involved as a volunteer, professional, community helps keep perspective on what made them fall in love with the sport in the first place.”

Coach Sean Ferguson – Swimming – Region of Waterloo – 18 years

“Transitions can have a forward or backward type of movement and, as a coach, I am consciously aware of that regarding this topic when coaching & discussing with my athletes.

*I’m assuming that the question is directly looking at athlete advancement, but I felt it was important to acknowledge that ‘transitions’ can be up or down.

So with that, my mentorship & advice to athletes who are in an upward transition stage is to be aware of your surroundings and remember the reason for why you are participating in sport (write down both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations the athlete expresses); for me, having fun is a must, and should always be at the top of one’s list and if it’s not then the discussion needs to be more in-depth.

I would also caution the athlete on things such as athletic ‘burn out’ and/or jumping in too quickly when she/he transitions and doing ‘status quo’ rather than listening to mind & body and how it’s reacting to the transition.

So take the time to create attainable short term goals with the athlete, parent(s) of the athlete, and their other transitioning coach or coaches (take the team approach to all of this) to ensure that the athlete is not pressured to meet someone else’s demand/goals which may be highly unachievable and/or unattainable; a slow gradual transition would also be ideal, but not always accessible.

So hopefully if everyone involved takes a gentler, communicable, and more community approach to transition, the athlete will accomplish and may even exceed, her/his set goals.

Oh and a long term goal that every coach should be encouraging whether the athlete is in transition or not is the development of lifelong enjoyment of sport & active lifestyles; our governing sports & recreational bodies are trying to encourage this healthy attitude, and coaches need to not only be consciously aware of our present environment, but we also need to look into our future. And, by encouraging the benefits of healthy lifestyles through sport, it should help improve society which in turn will lessen certain maladies that seem to constantly be discussed regarding the youth of today.”

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