...but that's ok because tomorrow you'll suck less"
As of tomorrow, my rowers and I have officially made it through the first two weeks of training. AND everyone keeps coming back, which is always fun for a coach. My team is trying their best to row their best. Of course, they aren't. Nowhere close, in fact. What matters is they are trying....and sucking. So what? I expected them to be pretty bad right now. I don't want them awesome right here, right now....or even next month. I want them be awesome in May.
That being said, I've remembered one of my first "lessons" over the past week--part of coaching is managing expectations. Perhaps most importantly, I need to manage my own expectations. I would love it (what coach wouldn't) if the top 8s of nationally recognized programs like Harvard or Cal were filled with my rowers. But I realize that this is not the hopes and dreams of all my rowers. Some are just happy getting into a boat and having a good row. I can't honestly expect those kids to row national team 2k times or even finish in the top six of their races.
I also need to manage each rower's expectations. I think each of them are phenomenal high school athletes, but not all of them would cut it at Harvard or Cal. But they could be fierce competitors for small college or club programs. Part of coaching means being honest and helping my rowers choose attainable goals, ones that I can help them work towards. Otherwise, I could be setting them up for frustration, or worse, failure. Your team won't perform their best (I don't like to say win because winning and performing your best are totally different things...I'll talk more about this later) at championships when they feel down and like crap. When was the last time you did something awesome when you felt like a loser? Probably never.
So tomorrow, we'll be doing our first 5ks ever. Most of the team has never done an organized 5k for time and that led to some freaking out. It didn't help when I told them the gold medal splits were between 2:00-2:05. So I said,
“I don’t expect all off you to row that. In fact, I think you are all going to suck. And you should suck. But I don’t care, because all I care about is that the next time we do 5ks, you improve.”
Funny enough, they were all okay with that. Tomorrow, I’m going in with full expectations that my team is going to suck. But I also expect each and every one of them to have fun doing it… and maybe even surprise us.
See you on the river.