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Posted in: General

Dealing with 'bravado' in athletes

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  • KateO

    As a Triathlon coach we tend to attract high achieving individuals who wish for a new challenge and have high expectations. I am interested in strategies (I guess I am talking about adults here) others use to manage bravado amongst their athletes. I have a few athletes who seem to fluctuate regularly about training methods and want quick fixes to get them to reach their personal goals. It is an interesting area so I am keen to hear your thoughts!! 

  • pippaglen

    Hi Kate 

    A hard one, I think most coaches will tell you they too have had the same problem with club members.   I think that there is no quick fix without injuries, I have seen many athletes that want quick fixes due to not attending sessions and then end up with massive injuries due to too much too soon then off again  due to injuries.  

    Maybe have a word to see why they can't make training sessions.   Give them advice on the sorts of training session they can do away from the club so they don't get behind.  

    I trained  for the London 2012 marathon,  got up to 26 miles in one of my runs it took me 2 years to train for,  all that went down the pan when I had a chest infection for 8 weeks,  I only had 6 weeks before the run and needed to gain my fitness back so started training hard, bad idea I ended up in hospital after a massive asthma attack.  I then couldn't compete in the marathon I was gutted. 

    They say you learn by your mistakes,  I certainly did. I would love to run that far again it has definitely scared me. 

  • David_T

    Not really an answer here Kate, but just more building on your question - I guess that many of those types of personalities have actualy come from relative success in other sports in terms of meeting their goals quickly.  That can be a tricky chellenge to overcome as the personaility types are those that seek challenges and successes.

    I guess it's about find a hook with them and challenging them in a sport where they will have to be patient for sucess - I have i a lot as throwing javelin looks so easy on TV.  I have to be honest with people from the start that any success will be a hard but fun slog!

  • Melb


    Yes a very intersting one and one that I have dealt with recently with one athlete. I have a few ways to deal with it and can share some expreinces and ideas if that helps? Lets chat??

  • KateO

    Hi Melanie, sorry for late response, been off the radar for a couple of days. Would be interested to hear of your experiences! 

  • Melb

    Happy to help - email me your details - mel@very-berry.org

  • JonWhittingham

    Hi Kate,

    Its a tricky balance; one the one hand it is important to keep the athlete on a progressive track but their bravado is what gives them their drive to keep going. Quick fixes normally never give long-term results but sometimes the athlete uses the short-term gain to keep them motivated so it can be a double-edged sword.

    I have found one of the most effective ways for me is this through developing 1-1 action plans and having agreed targets to match with their expectations (whatever they may be!). I find when working with younger players that is often the parents who have the unrealistic expectations whereas the older players tend to want to go with their own instintic. In either case, it is about educating the athlete to understand what is likely to be best for them. I sometimes use the attached graph to help with a visual representation for them around understanding that improvement is not straight line but will involve peaks and troughs in performance and pointing out that quick fixes don't produce linear improvement!

    Ultimately it comes down to what their personal goals are and their reasons for wanting to take a shortcut. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard!

  • SandC_Coach_Andy

    I agree with you Jon, working within a Highly competitive sports environment at the school where 1st team selection is a major goal thier is no end of bravado. Our major male sport is Rugby and i also coach sprinters and throwers at my local athletics club where being 'top dog', whether in the weights room or on the track, is a major thing to the athletes i work with. 

    Unfortunately this can, and does, distract from session goals as the focus becomes how much can i lift or can i beat him/her in the next training run. Not ideal when your session may have a technical focus. 

    I tend to dangle the carrot a bit whereby a good session will end with a 'beach weight' exercise or a race at the end of the session. So far it has done the trick.

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