By Bo Hanson – 4x Olympian, Coaching Consultant & Director of Athlete Assessments
On the weekend, I had the pleasure of watching a wonderful race at the Mooloolaba ITU World Cup Triathlon for the women. The eventual winner of the race was Vendula Frintova and she is coached by Darren Smith, a valued client of Athlete Assessments. In fact, Darren had three of his athletes finish in the top five with Kate Roberts from South Africa and Sarah Groff from the USA (and his forth athlete competing was also in the top ten). It does not get much better than that.
Watching the race, reminded me of how sporting success is all about ensuring every little detail which contributes to winning results is executed to the best of your ability. The reality is, every athlete in the race has a professional coach, scientifically proven training program, bikes and equipment worth thousands of dollars, access to the best nutritional information and has discovered ways to improve the mental side of their sport. Having these big ticket items in place enables an athlete to stand on the start line knowing they are not at a disadvantage. They can feel confident. Of course, if every athlete has these elements in place, then success is a result of how well each factor is executed on a daily basis.
One of the most challenging aspects of being a professional athlete is the degree to which an athlete chooses to train and prepare themselves to the highest possible standards. What I mean by this is that it is not just a matter of having the before mentioned elements in place, but critically, the degree to which you maximise their value. For example, eating the correct food during training, being correctly hydrated, having recovery food available post training and races, ensuring your race food is effective and the list goes on. Each element in the athlete development program has a series of levels which most athletes do, but only the very best athletes take each element to the highest possible level and only the champions search out new ways to extract the last possible 0.1% gain.
I vividly recall the efforts we went to in our attempt to win the Gold Medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. We executed our physical training to above “Gold Medal” standard each session, we used prototype boats which were longitudinally and laterally stiffer, had fins fitted to the hull which were hydro-dynamically more efficient, biomechanically perfected our individual and team set up in the boat. As well, we used meditation techniques to help us relax after training, used brain wave altering devices to promote the “alpha brain wave” state to maximise our recovery. We did visualisation exercises daily and used script writing to reinforce our understanding of the race plan and to make us more adaptable to changes. We attempted to leave no stone unturned. In the end, we won a Bronze Medal. Not what we wanted. However, I have learnt doing all the above and having a mentality of searching for anything which can give us an additional 0.1% in performance was what enabled us to win the Bronze. Had we not trained this way, we would have come fourth.
When you spend time with Darren Smith and hear him talk about his program, what becomes so clear, is the degree to which he is searching for the 0.1%ers. I guarantee Darren is doing things that most other coaches are not doing. Now, I am not going to give away his secrets in this article, but I can say with great confidence based on our work with Darren and the thousands of coaches from all different sports, all over the world, that Darren is doing things different. It is not always going to mean his athletes win, but it always means they do better than if they did not train this way and have this philosophy of looking for the 0.1%.
Of course, one aspect of Darren’s program is how he uses our services. He profiles each of his athletes using the Athlete Assessments AthleteDISC. Darren also profiled himself (using the CoachDISC profile) and regularly obtains feedback about his performance as a coach. Each of Darren’s athletes understands themselves and Darren understands them well too. This enables him to customise his approach to coaching them and to develop the most effective race strategy for them. We are not saying this improves their performance by 10% or even 1%, however, it is just another example of a 0.1%er. We believe knowing this information about your athletes can significantly improve their performance over time and perhaps what is most important is the fact that Darren’s athletes know he is looking for every tiny edge he can find. Having a coach with this philosophy gives his athletes a level of self-belief in themselves and their preparation and we all know this is vital to success.
Ultimately, how well do you know yourself and your athletes? No matter what level of coaching you are, from World-Class Coaches to Little League Coaches, if there is a chance you could improve this, even if only by 0.1%, it is worthwhile – particularly as it is such a critical and impactful area. We can help you. Discover more information about the AthleteDISC profile for athletes and CoachDISC profile for coaches or contact us to find out how we can help you further develop your coaching.