What Athletes Look For in a Coach
By Lindsay Mintenko, USA Swimming National Team Managing Director
With the National Team Coaches’ Conference happening this week, I thought I would write about some personal experiences and what, as an athlete, I looked for in a coach. I think there are five main things that are important for both coaches and athletes to know about their relationships.
Athletes want to coaches who help them set goals. Not just goals to win national or Olympic titles, but goals for practice, for dryland and even goals outside of the pool. Having a well- rounded athlete who is doing things in the pool and away from the pool will only help the transition when it is time to hang up the suit and goggles. Promoting healthy goals in the water during workout and competitions will help athletes enjoy the sport and have a healthy relationship with the sport.
In addition, motivation is important as well. There is a difference between motivating and pressuring. Vince Lombardi said, “They call it coaching, but it is teaching. You do not just tell them… you show them the reasons.” Coaches want their athletes to succeed, and athletes want to succeed. There is a fine line between pushing athletes too hard and motivating athletes to succeed…find it!
Learning to believe in myself was one of the hardest lessons I had to learn, but having a coach believe in mehelped me believe in myself. Be positive with your athletes. Believe in them, and show support. Be happy for them when a goal is reached and when they get accepted to college!
Be present, be dedicated. By showing your athletes you care, they will care too. Learn from your mistakes and be human. We are all allowed to make mistakes. Let your athletes make them and allow yourself to make them. Athletes need to recognize this as well. Your coach gets nervous too!
My favorite coach, John Wooden, said, “Respect a man, he will do all the more.” Show respect to your athletes and they will show respect to you…enough said!
Florida Swim Network