The relationship between a coach and an athlete is certainly unique. In the best situations, the coach and athlete are not related, but their relationship is often like that of a parent and child. But yet, the relationship is still different than that. The goal of the coach is to prepare the athlete for success, both physically and mentally. Especially in swimming. In the best-case scenario, the coach understands the game from several perspectives and can steer the swimmer in the direction that is best suited for his or her ability in the water. When this is the case, the swimmer rarely has to question the coach. But, there are moments when questioning the coach is in the best interest of both parties.
Walking a Fine Line
When it comes to questioning the coach, there is a fine line that the athlete should walk. Coaches feel like they know what is best for the athlete and they trust that the athlete sees this. But, there are times when it is acceptable for a swimmer or any other athlete to question a coach’s decision. Swimmers should know that there is a right and wrong way to go about questioning a coach. And an athlete should take time to consider whether or not questioning the coach is the right thing to do in any situation.
The 24-Hour Rule
A swimmer should wait to question a coach for a few reasons. The first is that many athletes get caught up in the moment and they might say something to the coach that will be regretted later. By waiting, the swimmer can also reflect on the situation to see if it is necessary to discuss it with the coach. Many coaches appreciate when their athletes wait 24 hours before questioning a situation. This 24-hour rule has helped maintain many relationships.
Talk about Goals
One of the most important questions to ask your coach is what your coach’s goals for you are. If the goals are different, then it is time to have a heart-to-heart talk. The goals should be realistic and reachable through hard work and dedication. If you feel like the goals are too far-fetched, then the relationship will suffer and your swimming will, too. If the goal is too easy, then what is the point of having the coach in the first place?
Talk about Listening
Another reason to question a coach is when the coach does not listen to you. Coaching not a one-way street for the coach to deliver and you to accept. The coaching relationship needs to have good communication where the coach listens to you, too. If you feel like the coach is not doing this, then you need to speak up. Your coach needs to understand your value as an athlete who knows his own body.
Work with the Coach
You should not question your coach when he is trying to get you to swim hard or to fix an aspect of your stroke. It is never appropriate to talk back to your coach or to give your coach attitude. Unlike your parents, you coach can easily stop working with you and find someone else who is willing to work hard and get to the next level. It is never appropriate to disobey your coach during practice or at a meet. The best attitude to take with a coach during practice or a competition is to do what the coach says and work hard to be the fastest.
How to Ask as a Parent
If you are a parent of a swimmer and you notice that your swimmer is not progressing, the best thing to do is to talk to the coach without blaming the coach. The best way to question the coach is to ask what the swimmer can do to improve or what can you do to help your child swim faster. The coach will be more than willing to offer suggestions and it might even get the coach to spend more time with your child.