The relationship between coach and boxer takes a lot of work. Communication must be practiced over and over again.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot reflecting over the past 30+ amateur fights I’ve had with Greg as we head into the next phase going pro. We worked diligently to build a mutual trust and override patterns and behaviors that get in the way of accurate communication. We continue to establish new levels of communication and trust as his career advances. It’s been a rewarding experience.
As a coach, I can fall into a rut of “teaching”- “telling”- “directing” and forget to listen……forget to listen to myself, and the person I’m coaching. The more I talk at, the less they will be willing to tell me and the less accurate base/foundation I will have to work with.
A simple example I have experienced………I asked a boxer if they had been doing their roadwork and they replied, “yes”. So I continued to plan their training according to roadwork being done. My plan was built upon a faulty foundation. Everything we did couldn’t be accurately measured for successes and failures.
One of the things that coaches and athletes deal with are their past experiences with authority. Often times when I am establishing a relationship with my athletes, I’m having to work hard to get a new paradigm of authority figure established. Many of us are used to hiding, keeping information to ourselves, not fully revealing when it comes to those we perceive to have power over us. In a sport like boxing, it can be a drastic mistake. I want the truth, because first and foremost, where there is truth, there is accuracy. Withholding information or lying takes away conscious choice. Nothing is more frustrating than finding out after the fact you weren’t told all the information you need to do a good solid job.
It takes a lot of vulnerability and trust to communicate honestly. It takes risking disappointing people, upsetting them, even possibly losing them but in the long run, what would you rather have— a camaraderie based upon a fallacy or certainty?