This article is written by Jim Hiserman, author of Developing Distance Runners, and Developing Distance Runners Volume 2, which is released today. Click here to read all articles written by Jim Hiserman.
In Volume I, of “Developing Distance Runners”, I focused on integrating training methods from both Neural Training and Metabolic Training that formed the heart and soul of the program “we” (myself, athletes and assistants) developed at Sonoma State University. Because of the nature of starting up a Women’s T&F/ XC program from scratch, virtually all of the women who made up the teams in the first year were those that had not run track or XC for a year, or two, or three and sometimes …NEVER.
Development of the student-athletes AS people, IS the most important part of their overall, individual development. A framework for the culture of the Cross-Country Team/ Distance Runners must be one that is built upon shared values that create strong emotional bonds much like the “Commitment Model” in “The Culture Code” by Daniel Coyle. This cannot be based only on skill/talent level, intellect or past accomplishments because the primary task of creating a successful culture involves establishing “a growth mindset”, where buy-in and contribution to the physical, emotional, and mental development of the team/community plays a large part in the overall success of the team.
After publishing “Developing Distance Runners Volume One”, while helping out with various high school programs (mainly mentoring), I saw the need for the establishment of team cultures. Establishment of Team cultures are critical in developing a sense of belonging to a group and sharing in values unique to the team as a whole. I also saw the need for coaches to develop a “growth mindset” in their athletes and in themselves, and be more open in communicating the “what’s, why’s and how’s” of the drills and workouts.
I also realized how athletes at the high school level have changed in the last decade. Today, many of the coaches are NOT teachers and do not have the various teaching or communication skills that enable coaches to relate effectively with athletes who have many different ways of learning things.
Thus, Volume Two is my attempt to address some of these problems I have witnessed in the last few years, even if, in a most general way. Coaches, today more than ever, need to acquire all the tools they can muster in order to interact with such diverse groups of individuals and be able to get all the “oars” in the water at the same time.
It is not enough to be proficient in one or two events with just physiological and/ or technical knowledge, in order to successfully develop people. Interpersonal, psychological and teaching skills may be even more valuable than “event specialization” and having been a successful athlete.
In this Volume Two of Developing Distance Runners, I hope to present many of the “tools” necessary for the coaching of ANY sport and encourage coaches to first, be “generalists” and then expand the knowledge into “specialized” information relative to the specific event or events being coached.
Once one acquires the interpersonal, administrative and teaching skills to be an effective coach, they will have the basic “tools” to address the variety of needs that arise within a group of individuals with varied talents, fitness levels, body types and postural weaknesses.
“One size does not fit all”
People whose knowledge is specialized only in the technical and/ or physiological aspects of an event, or whose background only includes having competed in the sport, cannot possibly respond successfully to all the individual needs of athletes whose skill, ages, training ages, fitness levels, learning skills and movement skill levels will not respond to a single approach or method.
Volume Two of Developing Distance Runners focuses more on the role of the coach in developing the culture and philosophy of training individuals. It gives a number of coaching and teaching tips necessary for acquiring the foundational elements required to successfully train individuals, create “growth mindsets” and teach the positive eating, sleeping and neural improvements that target the enhancement of endurance performance capabilities.
Considerations for coaching females, especially important for coaches who are faced with coaching a mixed cross-country program, is intended to provide food for thought for coaches of all sports with female participants.
In sport, we as coaches have a lot that we can control that directly impacts the athletes we work with. Many of the things that will impact the athletes should pertain to all areas of their physical, emotional and psychological development. Many of these areas transcend just the endurance performance ability. These are the areas that most of the athletes will use for the rest of their lives. “The athletes that you coach are more likely to remember “how much you taught them as people” as much as they will remember how much they improved as athletes. Volume Two hopes to give some insight into the coaching methods necessary to create programs that consistently build strong bodies, sound mindsets and a sense of shared goals and values.
Check out all 5 of Jim Hiserman’s books: