Do your Athletes Love your Coaching?
As a coach it is only natural to have a bit of an ego. You think your coaching is the best and anytime you see any athlete you know you could get them to jump higher. And obviously all the athletes you coach 100% believe in your system and think you are the best coach. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble but that’s just not true, no matter how good you are. While you are busy patt
ing yourself on the back your athletes are busy watching a YouTube video or checking out someone’s post on Instagram and thinking they would jump higher with a different coach, or doing things differently. While other athletes don’t even understand your coaching. So why do your athletes jump with you and how can you do a better job of providing better coaching for your athletes?
Lets first start outby figuring out why your athletes actually jump and train with you, especially if we are talking about clubs. You may think by coaching a club that the athletes have “chosen” you. They didn’t have to join your club. However, pole vaulting isn’t as popular as other sports like baseball, soccer, or even martial arts. There isn’t a private gym in every town. Even in New Jersey where we are lucky to have some options, most of the clubs are at least an hour apart. So, if someone is a pole vaulter, and they are looking for more jump time, forget instruction, they are going to the club closest to them. Which brings me to my next point, jump time. Many athletes have chosen a pole vaulting club because they want access to poles, mats, and more jump time. Their initial desire to attend a pole vaulting club is for access, not instruction. Regardless of how awesome you think your coaching is and how many “champs” you’ve coached, none of that mattered when the athletes chose your gym. Access was the key.
At this point of the article you might be upset and disagree. Here’s a question for you, how many athletes train with you for more than 4 years? How many adults jump with you? Does your attendance drop off significantly in the Summer and Fall? Would you like to change that? If you do you need to check your ego and start looking at your coaching and club more objectively. If your attendance drops off in the off seasons, and if you don’t have any adults training with you, clearly the athletes aren’t seeing value in training with you year round. What’s missing at your club or in your coaching process that drives athletes away? Does every practice look the same, a few “pop up drills” some 5’s then a full approach.? How many times can you go through that practice until you maxed out the grip and pole? Maybe a month? Are you having athletes try and correct technique from full jumps instead of using a drill progression? Also if you are living off of the IPad, why does the athlete need you? They can literally have a friend video their jump. You have to provide more than just access to jump time if you want your club, your community to grow.
So what does a club that offers more than just access provide? You have to create a system and processes to teach all the skills of the vault (pole carry, run, plant, take off, swing, and turn). How do you rotate big days (5+ lefts) , medium days(3-5 lefts), and drill days (3 l3fts or less). How does your club help athletes with physical development. Do you have strength and conditioning equipment? You are going to need more than just a high bar and a couple dumbbells. You don’t have to go crazy, but a squat rack, bench, and a couple barbells can go a long way. And the more strength and conditioning equipment you have, the less likely your athletes need a gym membership to do their training. You also can provide more than access to the equipment, you can also provide the coaching and programs needed to get people pole vault strong and fast! The final point I want to make on this topic is make sure to explain why you do what you do. Your athletes need to see the value in your system. If they understand your system and processes and find value with them, you will grow your year round population!
At this point you may be starting to see why some athletes don’t value your coaching as much as you think and why your club may not be growing as big as you wish it was. I want to expand on the strength and conditioning a bit and coaching in general. Your club needs a progressive strength and conditioning program. If all your crew does is the same body weight circuit practice after practice your athletes are missing out on making continual improvements on strength and speed for the long haul. After a month of those body weight circuits all an athlete is doing is maintaining their fitness, not improving. Just as mentioned earlier if all yiu do with pole vaulting is a few pope ups and then long runs, that process doesn’t take long to run its course. You have to become a better coach. Learn more drills and progressions. Learn more about strength and conditioning. Can you teach someone how to squat, bench deadlift or do proper pull ups? Do you know anything about periodization(linear, conjugate)? If not look this stuff up. Go to a few clinics.
The more you can provide your athletes the more they will appreciate and value you coaching. Anyone can buy a pole, few can bring enough to the table to teach people what to do with that pole over the course of 10 years. Start your journey in becoming a better coach and providing your athletes more than just access to equipment.