By Dr. Alan Goldberg//Competitivedge.com | Monday, April 9, 2018
You have loved going to practice!
The sets have been challenging and important.
You can feel yourself getting stronger and faster with each passing week.
Competition has been a lot of fun and you've learned to love the challenge of big meets!
Your world has been a wonderful place because you REALLY like your coach. He/she is kind, respectful, clearly cares about you, KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING and motivates you to work really hard and get as good as you can...
And then the unthinkable unexpectedly happens... Your favorite coach is suddenly leaving the team, and going to another club. Your happy little swimming world comes crashing down. How can that be? How could they do that to you? What are you going to do without them? Your emotions are so strong you even wonder what's the point in continuing. It feels like you've totally lost your motivation to swim. Why even bother going to practice if coach isn't going to be there?
There is nothing more unsettling and upsetting than having a favorite coach "leave YOU." It can knock you off balance and steal your desire. It can leave you feeling bummed out and angry for weeks.
Yet here's something important to keep in mind: They aren't really leaving YOU. It just FEELS that way. They're moving on in THEIR career, going into a different work environment, perhaps challenging themselves or having to leave for some personal or other professional reason that has absolutely nothing to do with you.
And the NORMAL response to this is to feel SAD, HURT, DISAPPOINTED, ABANDONED and even a little ANGRY, AND a lot helpless and demotivated.
So if this has just happened to you, here's what you need to do: You need to allow yourself to feel sad and/or angry and know that these feelings are normal and important to have. You probably should talk about your feelings with your parents or someone else with whom you feel safe. Try not to keep everything inside because you think this is how one acts strong. On the contrary. Being able to be in touch with your anger and sadness and then express it to those who you trust is what really takes strength.
If possible, you may even want to share your appreciation with that coach who's leaving. You could write them a note and let them know what they did for you that has made such a huge difference in your swimming and life. If they've left too suddenly and you haven't gotten a chance to talk with them about your feelings, then put them on paper anyway. Write them a letter and share your feelings that way, even if you never get a chance to send it.
You then want to take all that you've learned from this coach, and all they have given to you, and bring it with you every day into the pool. They may be physically gone, but if they have made an impact with you, then you will ALWAYS carry them with you. Our lives are made up of learnings, memories and experiences that we've accumulated over the years, helping us feel better about ourselves, smarter, stronger and who have helped us develop into who we are today.
The other thing you want to keep in mind after they have left is that getting to be as good as possible means that YOU need to be OPEN to new ideas and differing coaching styles and personalities. Remember the four words which always define a champion? GET COMFORTABLE BEING UNCOMFORTABLE!
You need to learn to regularly step outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself in EVERY way to grow as an athlete and as a person. When a favorite coach leaves, that will definitely push you outside of your comfort zone. Try not to get caught in the trap of being resentful of the new coach and continually comparing them to your old one. When you do that, you may miss out on some very valuable learning from the new coach. Push yourself to be open minded! Give the new coach a chance!
Over the years you will have all kinds of coaches and teachers, so it's critically important that when you do have a great coach, you celebrate the experience with them and feel grateful in the moment. And if and when they do leave, you remember that all the gifts they gave you over the years are now yours. And your job is to “carry” them with you when you train and race!