Ownership doesn´t mean that athletes have to make all the decisions on their own.
Athletes, especially young athletes, need a coach or at least a coaching program to get guided. I was an athlete from age six to 36 and had sessions. I decided about my training more than my coach did. But I only was able to do this because I learned through frameworks and the general plans I personally went through, and I am grateful I had those guidelines. It is easier and more effective to optimize for individual needs from an exciting plan than to start from scratch. That´s why it is also important to have a plan for the season or period to know what kind of training is important at the moment I start optimizing or individualizing for specific training sessions.
Of course, this year's plan can be done by an athlete itself, but even then, there will be an outside influence through recommendations or information from a coach, other athletes, or the world wide web. Even when I created my own ideas for my training, I went to my coach to discuss those. Through that process, I learned a lot about training planning, what makes sense, and what doesn´t, what needs to be implemented, and so on.
But what does this have to do with ownership? Well, as mentioned before, I don´t think in order to take ownership, an athlete needs to do necessarily everything on their own. It starts with not just going to the session and doing whatever is told to do and leaving again, not remembering a couple of hours later what actually was done. But observing the sessions, and seeing patterns and structures over time is the first step in order to be able to adjust to individual needs.
When an athlete experiences what race preparation worked well, or better, or what doesn´t work -then it's time for the next step. This can only be effective when being present at practice, and please - without overthinking everything! It can help a lot to take some quick notes like:
- What did I do
- How did I feel
- Do I feel prepared for the upcoming race
Also, coaches can adjust the plan much better when an athlete can give specific information. An example: when an athlete comes to the coach and is disappointed with a race performance but has the notes above, the coach can give educated recommendations for the next time. If the athlete doesn´t know anymore, how they felt the week before the race, the coach only can change the plan for the next race by guessing - it can turn out well, but the chance it doesn´t is at least the high.
You see, that´s one situation - two athletes are not happy with their performance - but the one who takes more ownership in the sense of observing training has a better chance for exciting future results.
So I would recommend starting with understanding the process of training while doing it, instead of “only” showing up, completing the session, and leaving again.
This is a process that can take a while - it even should. Observing a week of training and then assuming to know all about it is not going to serve anyone. It´s about the whole season, which also can vary from year to year, especially in the teenage years when races add up year by year and national or even international racing options appear.
This first part of ownership is almost too simple, so please don´t try making it complicated! It maybe takes five minutes. It´s kind of reading a book or this blog post. When thinking at the end quickly about, what you just read, it sticks longer. That´s it for now - the action part comes later.
Do you have a Dream? Keep going towards it :)
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