Hey Guys! Todd here!
A few weeks ago, one of my youth athletes raced. Throughout the week I had been messaging his mother back and forth with tips, tricks, and guidance.
Just when you think you know your stuff and think “ah, this will be easy, I only have one athlete and he’s doing the swim and bike leg of a relay” reality comes slamming you in the face. It was quite a learning experience for me. I’m sure nobody saw the mistakes I made, but I sure did reflecting back on the day.
First lesson, I arrived at the event well before my athlete did. I should have asked the parents to check in with me ASAP. Is it necessary? No, but I should have made sure he was okay before I did anything else.
Second lesson, I should be better prepared than my athlete. The parents mentioned that their son didn’t have a tri top for the race. My first offer was a tri top that I’ve used once but it way too small. Being a young man, the response was “no way.” So I offered my coach’s team’s top which I’ve never worn and he agreed. “SWEET!” Well, wrong. You see, I screwed up. While I wear a medium bottom, I ordered a large top. When I gave the parents my kits on race day, WHOOPS, they didn’t fit. Dang it. How could I have screwed that up? Great first impression, right?
Another example of this was I should have known the course. I was on medical restrictions the four days prior to the race. There was absolutely no reason why I couldn’t have gone out and drove the bike course to have an idea what it was like. When my athlete got off the course, I had no clue what he was talking about. It would have been much better if I could have been able to relate to the athlete.
Third Lesson, if the children are going to be racing in an Age Group event, I need to kindly remove myself from personal commitments such as my adult Club, my coach’s team, and my personal friends. Looking back, if I want to truly be about my kids participating, I need to focus on them and nobody else.
One example was my coach asking me to take photos for him during the race. While I wanted to be a team player and a good guy, I should have just kindly declined and said I wanted to focus on my athletes. It’s hard for me to say no. Heck, the guy has coached me through numerous Olympics, Half Irons, and a 140.6 event! I owe it to him right? Well, no. I paid him and now I’m being paid by parents. Instead of snapping photos, I should have been beside my athlete for any questions he had. It was a very long wait considering it was a time trial start.
Another example is my friend’s son was at the race and is also a team member but he wasn’t racing. He was going to be by himself for the race and I felt obligated as a friend and a coach to watch over him. This wasn’t exactly fair to my athlete but I did it because I felt it was the right thing to do.
Fourth lesson is not to get caught up so much in snapping photos of the kids.
I got so darn caught up thinking I was providing a service to the parents by snapping action shots. Since I only had one athlete racing, I should have been doing two things instead. First, I should have had a stop watch or used my Garmin to time the event for him. I could have had great data on at least one of my athletes to start the season. Second, instead of snapping photos of entering transition and the actual transitions, I should have posted up AT his bike rack and recorded a video of his transitions not take photos! It would have been a priceless tool to use in the future! I would have given anything to have video of every one of my transitions! Its free time for goodness sake!
Well, there’s my confession.
I’m sure some will say “I can’t believe he forgot that” or “I would have done that” but that’s not my point I want to get across.
Two things to get from this: if you want to help your kids, be prepared as well as you can. Second, coaches are human. Yes, they’re usually paid to know more than you but they are human. I see all too often athlete’s posting questions because they’re too embarrassed to ask their coaches a question.
Just remember, you’re paying the coaches… Ask away! If they don’t want to answer your questions or judge you for asking a question, find a new coach! They’re working for you.
Todd is a husband, father of three, youth triathlon coach and 140.6 finisher.
He’s the new voice of Swim Bike Kid.