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4. Prepare Ahead of Time To minimise any disruption when adding a new athlete into their first training session – the very least the coach can do is confirm ahead of time that the athlete knows where they need to be, by what time, what they need to bring and wear. It sounds so simple – but often these are the things that a new athlete is always the most anxious about. Ahead of time make sure your all your current athletes are aware that a new face will be joining the group. Upon arrival, introduce the new athlete to others you see around the training environment – including other training squads that may use shared spaces at the same time. It may be appropriate to give another athlete the responsibility to ‘buddy up’ with the new squad member – but certainly the need for this is all about helping to facilitate social connections. Above all the most important thing is to make sure that you keep things fun. Whilst it might be tempting to off load your years of coaching wisdom in one session to reaffirm that the athlete has made the right choice – use your first opportunity to make sure the athlete enjoys the experience and leaves feeling confident about the next planned session.

5. Check-In Building a new athlete-coach relationship is more than delivering a session, collecting fee’s and a providing free training t shirt. As the coach you always have a responsibility to recognise and reinforce the performance behaviours that

Closing Note

There is often a temptation is to highlight to your new athlete all your own perceived ‘bad habits’ they may

you value the most. Every new athlete will want to know

have collected during previous experiences. Avoid being

how they are doing and may expect to see improvements

too quick to impart your part to a problem on someone else

overnight. This is only natural whenever someone takes on a

whose background may be different. Instead of these being

new challenge or experience. The role of the coach is to revisit

framed as failures or poor choices – it is important to use

those prior conversations about what was agreed as a realistic

them as learning experiences. Never be too quick to judge

expectation. With so much new information coming at them –

the work of a former coach by blowing their candle out to

of themselves and forget about the processes that you value. In the beginning of your new coach-athlete relationship you may need to take some extra time to check in more frequently with the athlete. Provide them with some feedback (not all of the bad bits) about what you

some athletes may feel lost, whilst others may race ahead

make yours shine brighter! All this does is cast a shadow over the learning process and the relationships the athlete

You have a responsibility to to recognise and reinforce the performance behaviours that you value the most

see, but more importantly seek

may need to be successful moving forward. Rather seek further understanding by asking questions of you athlete – “why have you done it that way in the past? Do you feel it helps you? Are you open to trying it another way to see if it makes a positive

their feedback to see how the transition is working. The best

difference?”. Work out where the common ground exists.

form of this feedback is often the informal feedback almost

There are a lot of different ways to be successful in coaching

every day. Through checking in coaches play a critical role

– maybe this new athlete can help you learn something you

in the athlete’s continued success and motivation to meet

may have never ever considered?

performance expectations.

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Profile for Athletics Coach

Athletics Coach - Issue 3, 2018