Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a swimmer. Not just any swimmer, but someone who had a desire to go FASTER than he had ever gone before. But even though this swimmer felt like he worked hard all the time, he was never able to achieve the results he felt he deserved. Eventually he became unhappy and discouraged because he couldn’t figure out WHY he wasn’t faster.
One day, after purchasing a shiny new pair of mirrored goggles, the swimmer decided to go for a swim. While walking to the pool, he came upon a coach. The swimmer had heard about this coach, and had seen him at swimming meets, but had never met him. So he introduced himself and they began to talk. When the swimmer showed the coach his mirrored goggles, the coach said, "I have some magic beans in my backpack. Could I trade you these special beans for your new goggles?"
"Why would I want to trade my new goggles for some stupid beans?" asked the swimmer. The coach responded, "Because, with THESE beans and MY coaching, I can make you the fastest swimmer on the planet!"
Now the swimmer was faced with a tough decision. He liked his current coach, but his current coach didn’t have magic beans. He had tried everything possible to swim faster, but it just wasn’t happening. He had thought mirrored goggles might be the answer, but maybe this new coach — and his magic beans — was the answer. How could he know for sure unless he changed teams and tried this new coach’s beans?
Now, I could take this story in SO many different directions at this point, but I’ll move to my point: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS MAGIC BEANS! Yet for some reason, year after year, season after season, swimmers continue to move from team to team in search of the magic beans, or the magic coach, that is going to make them great.
The truth is simple: The best coach in the world won’t make an athlete faster if that athlete doesn’t want to put in the work, effort, time, and commitment to all that happens in the water. A coach can give ALL her knowledge and insight to swimmer, but if that swimmer doesn’t care, or isn’t a committed athlete, it’s not going to do much good.
Here’s a test that may help prove my point. Think of a swimmer you know who is lazy, or who doesn’t like to work hard. Come on…we all know someone like this! Maybe this swimmer likes to be on swim team, but doesn’t really like to swim, I mean…deep down inside he or she doesn’t have a passion for the sport. But yet this swimmer (like all of us) wants to be faster. Now imagine that this swimmer, in order to get faster, decides to swim for one of the Olympic coaches — someone with years of knowledge and a track record of coaching successful swimmers. Eventually, the excitement of having an Olympic coach on the deck will wear off, and the swimmer is left with whatever internal desire is inside him — or her. In the end, it’s not about how many magic beans the coach has, it’s about how many magic beans the SWIMMER has.
Sometimes, switching teams is NOT the answer to the question "How can I get faster?"Sometimes, switching teams can lead to a set-back rather than a step forward. A deep look INSIDE the athlete, some serious self-reflection, needs to take place prior to any team move. If you’re considering switching teams, ask yourself a simple question and give an honest answer: "Did I do everything I could, ALL the time, to succeed under this program?"
If the answer is truly yes, then maybe it’s just an incompatibility with the coach and the team, and the relationship needs to end. There’s no reason to be bitter, on either end. I know that’s hard to imagine, but sometimes people aren’t successful working together. As a coach, the interest of what’s best for the swimmer ALWAYS must come first, and if that means letting a swimmer go, then so be it. For THAT kid — the one who’s looking for the magic beans — this is her ONLY career. This year is the only chance that swimmer has to compete as a 10-year old, a 14-year old, or whatever.
So if you’re looking for something magical to make you faster…look INSIDE rather than OUTSIDE first. You may still find some magic in yourself and in your current program.