This is a quickie redaption of a long post I wrote during the Olympics. I wrote that long and harsh blog post because of what I witnessed once, twice, three times a nightmare on the Lord’s Cricket Field. It was harsh and too easily objectionable as “peanut gallery cheap seat whinery” so I pulled it soon after posting. It’s premise is true though, and I’ll try to be as objectively professional as I can.
Coaches, you have to know when to open your mouth and how to control your athlete ANYTIME when he is not performing a shot cycle. When the stands are creating a standing pressure wave 20 feet high of intense noise and distraction, and your archer looks back at you in obvious distress, you better not find yourself lacking in preparation yourself.
KNOW what your athlete needs when she is up, know what he needs when he is down, and especially know what your athlete needs when she is teetering on the edge of self-demolition. Know what the hell to say, to do, how to communicate non-verbally from your little holding cell of hell so that your athlete succeeds. The smallest of gestures can climb the highest mountain of momentary fear. I’ve climbed a number of 14K peaks in Colorado, and there is nothing like balancing on a knife edge ridge 100 yards from the summit, wheezing and trembling muscles in the thighs, sheer unmitigated dropoffs of thousands of feet either side, to realize how the smallest of things can make the largest of differences. There was no “try” there was only “do”. Like a small gesture from the coach in the right way at the right time. Or the right couple of key “words”.
Example of key words prepared well in advance between athlete and coach: for Lindsey, “Decide” and “Deep Breath” combated and ultimately defeated her Target Panic at the right moments. Her final bronze medal-winning arrow in Beijing, on YouTube, is witness to the words from me she could hear in that insanely crazy moment as you see her take that breath. She does not even remember what the camera shows, so great is the stress at that moment… But loaded key word terms trained into your athlete should be an arrow in your coaching quiver.
When the athlete dares falter it is your job to already know how to cure that hesitation, to be the Coach with a capital C. Do not be the coach who just crosses his arms, dons opaque sunglasses, and becomes the stern father figure. Chances are that will NOT be doing YOUR job. You must prepare during good days for those moments you will have the honor to do your duty to your athlete.
Coach. Boy Scout. Be Prepared. Act.