Bato, the person I consider my principal mentor in all coaching-related matters and other life-improving principles, once told me that it was acceptable to love our pupils.
“It’s not only acceptable,” he said, “it’s mandatory.” I understand what he means perfectly and work under the assumption that love must be the driving force behind what we do as coaches and as humans.
Many of the problems our industry faces today arise from failing to observe the love and respect our athletes deserve as complex living beings.
We must never forget that they have intricate combinations of emotions and personal lives that directly affect their performance in the gym.
Now, and before you come at me with some archaic nonsense or a political misconception about human behaviour, this isn’t about being soft. It is more of the acceptance that you, as a person in a position of authority, must adapt your thinking and behavioir to create an optimal environment for your athlete.
Remember that your position and titles exist to provide your students with a specific value service – not the other way around.
Bato talks to all his athletes (and mine; he has my unwavering trust and, therefore, permission to correct them any time he deems it necessary.) as he does to his grandchildren.
His tone is direct but soft, and he shows genuine concern for what they think and how they feel. More importantly, the athletes recognise his consideration for their wellbeing and react favourably to his presence.
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He knows how to get positive results, and his accolades prove it.
Again, Bato knows when to be stern with people he coaches, and you better believe he can use force when necessary, but offensive or demeaning language is never part of his strategy.
We should all be like Bato. I work hard every day to be more like him and hope to one day get there.
In a conversation about this topic, he recounted a lovely anecdote.
“I would say to my athletes’ parents no one loves your kids more than you. After that, their grandparents and then uncles and aunts. But don’t you doubt that I’m next on that list.”
Thank you, Bato; I understand what you mean, and I’m a better person for it.
Pulsars would not be what it is without you.
Thank you for reading.