Thursday, February 7, 2013

Coaches' Corner: Keep It Simple

When it comes to coaching either a team or an individual, it is often good to focus on keeping the message from the coach simple and direct. Obviously, the more complicated things become, the more confusing they can be. As a coach, there are no points or credit given for explaining something in a complex way. The only thing that matters is whether the athletes improve and row well. In many cases it is best to make sure you are not bogging the athletes down with convoluted descriptions and analogies, and to focus on a clear message. The idea is that the athletes can process this message and execute accordingly, and, ideally, immediately.

This applies to drills, workouts, mentality, and the technical approach. The more layers involved or the more complicated a coach makes a technical concept or explanation, the greater the likelihood of confusion or misunderstanding. Because many of us spend so much time involved in rowing either in our own training, coaching others, or perhaps just thinking about it, we tend to allow things to become more complicated inside our head than necessary. Adding layers of complication and sophistication can only be done as the athlete gains experience and knowledge. But even when the athletes have vast amounts of knowledge and experience, it can still be best to focus on a streamlined approach.



This video, featuring Kris Korzeniowski, Mike Teti, and an early version of the 2012 U.S. Olympic eight during the selection process on Briones Reservoir, provides a very good example of keeping the message to the athletes simple. In the video, the contrast between the message from Korzeniowski and that from Teti is quite clear. Korzeniowski spends 25 seconds describing what he sees as a lack of connection and uniformity in the patience in the movement of out the bow especially between the stroke and the seven seat. Teti takes Korzenioswki's point and distills it into eight words—a very simple, clear and direct message to help the crew make the adjustment in a uniform fashion. "Complete the stroke, patience out of bow." This message is what Teti has determined will accomplish his goal for this crew at that moment in their development, and is something that each of the nine athletes in the boat can understand and execute together.

"My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time;
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief..."

-The RR Team

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