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You say it best when you say nothing at all

While recently watching a programme about the London Marathon, I sat and tried to work out how many of the 37,000+ runners had a coach to help them achieve the distance. The answer? A very small percentage. The vast majority are there to enjoy the personal achievement of simply completing the distance. They have done their own training by reading plans or gaining knowledge from friends who have completed a similar distance. They didn’t have anyone to motivate them on their training runs but themselves. 

Running is such a simple pleasure. Putting on your trainers and stepping out of the front door to see what your body is capable of. For me personally, it is my thinking time and a way to de-stress and get things back into perspective. The last thing I would ever want is someone to be running alongside me trying to get me to run ‘better’. Yes, I could probably do with some coaching but I don’t run to be fast. I just run because I can and it is something I allow myself to do as often as possible. 

So now the big question to ask yourself as a coach. How often do you just let your athletes simply enjoy their sport without giving them verbal coaching points? Personally I find it quite difficult not to feel guilty about having a session where I don’t say very much. However, I have learned that these are sometimes the sessions that lead to more learning from the athletes. It prompts more conversation one the session has finished and can often lead to discovering more. 

So next time you find yourself contemplating what you should say next, how about trying to say nothing at all? See if it prompts better communication among your athletes or if they turn back to you for advice. In creating ‘thinking’ athletes, silence is a golden opportunity for them to think for themselves rather than listen to you filling the silence with your voice. 

Rachel Hooper, sportscoach UK, Coach Education Advisor