A few years back, a publication of the USOC called the Olympic Coach had a great picture of a weightlifter on the cover coming up with a heavy clean. In that issue was an article that I thought was very interesting from a coach’s standpoint as well as the athletes. The article examined the factors that were perceived to positively and/or negatively affect the performance of U.S. Olympic athletes and coaches prior to and during an Olympic Games.
Various factors were identified as being critical considerations in preparation such as self and teammate confidence, equipment concerns, travel, media, team factors, coaching, family and friends, etc. From the studying of these factors, some conclusions could be drawn. I will not go over all of them, but try to limit the discussion to the most applicable to our sport.
Coach actions perceived by athletes to enhance performance:
provide mental preparation and sport psychology training
provide support and confidence
facilitate physical conditioning and provide good technical training
appear calm and relaxed when coaching
allow all athletes to have time alone
prepare and protect athletes from distractions
treat the Olympics like any other event by preparing the same way
facilitate good communication and ways to convey information
effectively initiate team building sessions that contribute to team chemistry
On the other hand, what are some of the coaches’ actions perceived by the athletes to hurt performance?
poor communication and failing to provide essential information
making poor personnel and selection decisions
demonstrating a lack of support and encouragement
training errors, not providing enough tactical advice and changing strategy
demonstrating a lack of enthusiasm and effort
unfair treatment of athletes exhibiting negative attitude
How can you use this information to make yourself a better athlete? Hopefully, you and the coach are doing many of these “positive” things now. In order to succeed, the athlete and coach must realistically look at what they are doing or not doing and make adjustments to improve performance. Successful coaches at any level must keep these factors in mind when setting up training for top performance. They must integrate and implement these positive factors into a coherent program that simplifies the athlete’s life and helps them perform at their best.
So whether you are preparing for the Olympics, the Worlds, the Nationals, or the American Open, cover all bases for the optimal performance!
Originally posted November 22, 2012