I was in London for the Global Coaches House. The Global Coaches House was in London because of the Olympics. The Olympic games are the pinnacle of sport. Because they occur only once every four years and they are a multi-sport competition they are unique in their demands on the athlete and the coach. Security is stricter, sometime borderline oppressive. You live in a village with other athletes and all the distractions that entails. Food is abundant. Warm-up areas are crowded and often offer limited access to the coach.
What are the coaching and preparation implications of all of this? This was an ongoing topic at the coach’s house. Preparing for the Olympic games is different and as coaches we must recognize this. If you are an American and you compete in a sport like track & field that is off the radar for the other three years you are now expected to go out and win it for the stars and stripes. Pressure rises.
Four years is not enough time to prepare for the Olympic games, the reality is that in today’s hyper competitive environment is that it takes a six to eight year cycle of preparation. With that in mind stop and take a long hard look at where the 2016 and 2020 Olympians are coming from? 2016 Olympians are now 16 to 18 years old, for them the dye is cast; they are well on their way to being what they will be in four years. The 2020 Olympians are 12 to 14 years old today, for them we can still make significant impact on what they will look like, but we must approach it with a sense of urgency with a detailed plan. Above all we must remember that sport does not exist separate from society, it is a reflection of society. Therefore with a society that is more sedentary, significantly more obese than ever before it is going to increasingly difficult to nurture Olympians who will be competitive on the world stage. We should be proud that our athlete performed so well in London to lead the medal count, but we must heed the warning signs on the horizon and use the buzz and euphoria generated by our Olympic success to get the message out that a fit active population is the key to future success in the international arena. It is not a once every four year proposition it is a daily endeavor far from cheering crowds and medal ceremonies.