An important role of the coach - filtering the bullshit that permeates the modern sporting environment
I saw this tweet from Joel Filliol last week and started thinking about it on my run this morning.
There is definitely bad information out there, but that's not what I thought of when I read this. The BS that I find myself filtering isn't always in the form of bad advice. It's untimely advice that distracts an athlete from their current path.
I've worked with multiple World Champion Triathletes. The more successful the athlete, the more BS you will have coming into your circle from sponsors, fans, friends, and other coaches. This can be exhausting, but fortunately, I've worked with athletes that are confident in the path we have chosen. However, this isn't always the case and the constant noise can create a lot of stress for the athlete and their coach.
This is a common problem and often times, athletes and coaches don't realize they are doing it. I'd say that most coaches have gotten involved with dishing out good, but untimely advice that will need to be filtered by another coach...myself included.
When I've found myself in these situations...creating conflict was not part of some premeditated plan to gain an advantage. However, my motivation was self serving...I wanted to share my intellect and contribute to the conversation with little regard to the possible damage I was creating.
Once the damage has been done, what sort of position do I put the athlete's coach in? I've created BS that needs to be filtered. Human nature will force the coach to then react and most likely attempt to discredit myself and the advice I offered. This doesn't bode well for my future relationship with the athlete or the coach making my efforts counterproductive.
I can now understand why some coaches end up creating squads in an attempt to shelter their athletes from outside influences. These cult like environments/squads don't work for every athlete or coach, but gaining this control limits the amount of BS they have to filter. As a coach, it's not worth their energy dealing with athletes that are easily influenced by others as they'll spend more time deflecting than coaching.
You'd be surprised what sort of damage other athletes can do to each other. Taking their nervous energy or doubts and passing them along to their fellow competitors. Even the athletes that seem very confident...they have their doubts just like the rest of us. Athletes are constantly playing little mind games with themselves to displace and remove doubt. You'll see this with athletes that are outwardly vocal about their plan and will make sure everyone within earshot knows about it's superiority over other protocols.
With that said, I don't have a solution. We can't control the actions and words of others, but I'm choosing to not be part of the problem. I know I'll slip up. It's not easy to keep quiet when you have an opinion, but talk is cheap. When their are multiple ways to get to the same place, spotting the alternative route in a program isn't genius.