Training to your strengths is certainly not a new idea but in many ways it runs contrary to the way most coaches think. There is something about coaches and coaching that lead us to do the opposite, train the weaknesses. It is so typical to hear a coach talk about what if. What if so and so had a better kick, was stronger or could just handle running heats? I propose that before you focus on what the athlete cannot do find out everything they can do. What are their strengths? How do they use their strengths at the present time? How is training structured now? Is an inordinate amount of emphasis being given to training to improve weaknesses to the exclusion of the strengths?
There are no quick fixes, even with the younger athlete; it is a long term process.
With the young developing athlete, ask the obvious question: Are they in the correct event? Instead of spending an inordinate amount of time working on a perceived weakness see if the athlete is better suited for another event. Sometimes what is perceived as a weakness in one event will be a strength in another. Find the talent that suits the event; do not try to make someone they are not. Know yourself and know your athlete. Recognize the patterns that are strong and build on those. Just as you should not be defined by the competition, the athlete should not be defined by their weaknesses.
Focus on weakness makes a fallacious assumption
- That anyone can become competent in most anything
- The greatest room for growth and improvement comes in the persons weak areas. Each athlete’s strengths are unique and personal. The more that we as coaches can help the athlete explore their strengths the more sold they will be on the training. They will see progress and then begin to factor in work on strengths that can be systematically addressed. Do not focus on strength to the exclusion of working on the weaknesses; rather learn to manage the weakness.