"I'm the ringmaster of this shitshow"
Seen on a t-shirt!
Inspiration can come from funny places, even slogans on a t-shirt! I'm not sure the slogan would have caught my eye had I not been fortunate enough to speak at an event organised by Red Bull during the summer of 2019 and listen to Sam Sunderland, who races the Dakar Rally and World championship events for the Redbull KTM factory rally team.
Sam gave an insight into the problems of the mundane. Sam explained that possibly the most dangerous stages of the Dakar rally are the liaison stages (untimed sections of the rally route). These stages are not too demanding, they're mundane. There's not a lot going on to concentrate the mind and without some excitement, a lack of focus creeps in. That's when crashes can happen!
As he was describing the problems of the liaison stage it struck me that much of what we do as coaches is dull as ditchwater! From the super organised spreadsheets to the structured warm-ups. It's bloody mundane! When a programme is all laid out, colour coded and very strict, the training process becomes mundane and that's when you start to run into problems.
My early attempts to programme action sports athletes were the programme design equivalent of a liaison stage! Handing back some of the decision making to the athletes was really an important breakthrough for me. Sometimes it would mean that the programme would get a little chaotic, but it was our chaos, and chaos concentrates the mind! It may have appeared to be a shit show from the outside but with each season I became increasingly comfortable with being the ringmaster of our particular shit show!
Most performance programmes focus on the drudgery of training. Whilst we can't escape it fully, we have to allow breathing space within the programme for activities that keep the athlete engaged in the process.
Probably the most important thing that action sport has taught me is that it's OK to be the ringmaster of a shit show!
Source: As seen on a T-Shirt!.