APEX August Blog – It Takes a Village

I was seated, waiting to engage with the next speaker at TrainingPeaks’ Endurance Coaching Summit when I confirmed what APEX Coaching has long stood for – It takes a village for an athlete to succeed and perform at their absolute best. I received the impression from several of the Coaching Summit attendees that they were looking to be athletes’ all-in-one solution for success. Attending the summit to gain valuable knowledge on various topics with hopes to be an “expert” in “everything.” As coaches, and really any profession for that matter, it is important to know when to stop, think, and call in support when a particular topic extends outside of your scope of knowledge. This is in the best interest of the coach to preserve his/her reputation, but more importantly for the athlete who deserves nothing but the best advice and expertise.

The Why

You are a customer service representative at a local financial firm. Your employer wants you to be performing at your absolute best. Your employer decides that in order for you to perform at your best, you need to have access to all of the tools to help you succeed at your particular line of work. Good culture, good benefits, flexible hours, reasonable pay, the latest technology, welcoming HR, and more. Because of these tools, your performance improves, and you become a happier, more committed employee.

When we say “It Takes a Village,” we are referring to what is already well known in endurance sports – athletes need many tools to be able to train and race at their best. The financial firm example simplifies this theory into a situation most people can understand. As a coach, we need to strive to provide all of the tools available, and as an athlete, having access to these tools needs to be a priority when racing at a high level. You could be the most self-driven, knowledgeable, experienced athlete in the world, without these tools, your performance is left underutilized.

Neal Henderson – “The best coaches are the ones that manage resources the best.”

The How

Let me start by listing a few examples of resources within a cyclist’s village:

  • Coach
  • Family
  • Doctor
  • Nutritionist
  • Strength Coach
  • Team Manager
  • Teammates
  • Training Partners
  • Exercise Physiologist
  • Bike Fitter
  • Phycologist
  • Massage Therapist/Soigneur
  • Friends
  • etc.

As you can see, the journey to athletic success is far from an individual pursuit. Providing an athlete with the tools and resources he or she needs to perform at their best should be a priority for every coach and coaching group that works with athletes at a high level. If your coaching group does not have the capability to offer expert service in a certain category (i.e. Nutrition, Massage), then look to grow your relationship with an outside provider. Form a healthy relationship that you and/or your athlete could call at any moment to make sure the athlete can stay right on track with their training. Beyond just the access to an expert outside resource is the confidence the athlete gains that they now have the support from that particular professional. In a holistic approach to coaching, this is imperative.

Todd Plymale-Mallory Performs Massage on a Local Cyclist

Main Points

  • “It Takes a Village” to become a high-level endurance athlete
  • Building a “village” needs to be a priority of coaches and coaching groups
  • Members of the “village” need to be reliable, supportive, and readily available for the best interests of your athletes
  • Know and accept when a topic is outside of your scope of knowledge
  • As a coach, always ask yourself – “what does my athlete need to be successful”
  • As an athlete, always ask yourself – “what do I need to succeed”

 

Conclusion

The human body is a complex, powerful, and amazing machine. Even the most knowledgeable athletes, coaches, and doctors need help from time to time, even within their own area of expertise. Building the support team around an athlete should be prioritized, but the members of the team should also “crave” knowledge. Technology and innovation are changing the way we train, race, and prepare for endurance events every year. At APEX, we are always looking to innovate for the best interest of our athletes. We understand that an athlete that has the best tools and support is in the best position to perform come race day.


About the Author – Coach Cody:

Cody has coached for APEX Coaching since 2014, and is always looking to grow and “specialize” APEX’s “village.” He is APEX’s Administrative Manager and Fit Specialist, with a coaching emphasis on cycling and triathlon. Cody is also an MBA Candidate at the University of Colorado.