Good Coach/Bad Coach

It’s no big secret that I love being a coach. I tell my girls almost daily that my time with them is always the highlight of my day and there’s little in my life that has rivaled my last four years at MMU. I had a physiologically “good” coach in high school, but he certainly wasn’t a cuddly guy and compliments were rare. When I took the job at MMU, my biggest goal was to make sure that every single one of my runners gained a lifelong love of activity and knew how proud I was of them, regardless of performance or outcome. The reality is that very few of my runners will go on to run in college. MMU is not a D1 production house. And that’s ok with me. My success as a coach is measured in how many of my girls leave MMU and still want to run. It’s measured in the bonds that form between generations of MMU runners. It’s measured in smiles that stay on our cheeks long after the races are over.

DSC_9322Coaching requires constant learning and adaptation, especially at the high school level. Although science says an exponential rapid drop taper is best, I learned the hard way last year that it doesn’t work as well with high school athletes who rarely get enough recovery due to outside forces. Over the past 4 years, I’ve kept a coaching log where I write up reflections on workouts, race performances and season patterns. This way, I don’t panic when we have a week in mid-September where the whole team is sick or injured.

I was interested to read this article on Coach Wetmore of Colorado last week. Wetmore is a fantastic coach (CU is arguably the most successful XC program in the US) but isn’t known for being warm and fuzzy. I found it interesting that despite this, his athletes love running for him. I especially loved the story of him walking away as an athlete won a national championship because Wetmore already knew he would. He didn’t need to watch the final stretch to see it happen.

I was appalled to read this article about a coach in South Carolina who drove a vehicle full of athletes while drunk. Driving athletes is terrifying. I drove a car full of girls to Manchester recently and have rarely paid more attention to the road. Precious cargo! I cannot fathom the decision making process that coach must have gone through that led to this news story.

Finally, I loved this article on why some kids try harder than others. Although it was more applicable to parenting, I can certainly see applications to coaching. The premise is that there are two mindsets: fixed (what you’re born with for talent is what you have) and growth (talent can be developed with hard work). Coaching relies heavily on a belief on the latter; if talent was all that mattered, we wouldn’t need coaches.

If you’re a coach, what’s your favorite part of coaching? Who is your favorite “famous” coach and why?

2 thoughts on “Good Coach/Bad Coach

  1. Jason

    That’s great – I was mad at my high school coaches for years because they didn’t turn me into a running machine – they’re forgiven now, as they gave me a lifelong love of the sport!

    Coach – tough one! maybe Andrew Kastor


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