Most athletes become excited for next season before this season is completely finished. New season race dates are published and race calendars started. Higher goals and larger expectations for the following season are common. Progression fulfills the human soul as we challenge ourselves in order to better ourselves.
Before jumping into the new season, I recommend reviewing the season you just wrapped up. Log lessons learned to improve next season. I do this with every athlete I coach, every season, no matter how long we have worked together and how experienced they are. Paradigms are never static; goals change, races change, bodies change, life situations change. New lessons are learned and continually applied to increase performance.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What was the highlight of your season (for example, best race or greatest accomplishment)? Why?
- What was your greatest disappointment? Why?
- Review your top three goals for this season. Do you feel these were achieved? NOTE: Find the exact three goals you wrote down in ink before the start of this season. Once the season is under way and performance is on the up-and-up, goal drift is common! Use your original goals to review your season honestly.
- What did you do in training this season that you feel made you faster?
- What did you do in training this season that you feel was not productive?
- If you could change your training, mental preparation, or race tactics/strategy this past season, what would you do differently?
- Was there anything missing in your training this season?
- Do you feel that you trained enough and worked hard enough in training this season?
- Do you feel that you had adequate rest during training and before races?
- Do you have any extra comments and insights on this season?
Then, review your coach too! As a coach, my performance is always included in athlete season reviews. Coach-athlete communication and relationships are key to goals being achieved. Feedback provided to me (coach) by my athletes is golden. Just as my athletes strive for better results next season, I want to continually improve my coaching. Over the years I have added communication channels like Skype based on athlete suggestions. I have also cringed at myself with the honesty of some feedback. One athlete told me he felt I always rushed him off the phone, while from my perspective I knew he was very busy and I didn’t want to take up too much of his time. With awareness it was easy to sort that miscommunication out.
Here are some questions I ask my athletes:
- In what ways could working with your coach (me) be improved?
- Did I deliver the coaching service you expected?
- Do you feel I am easy to communicate with and am available during the times you need?
- Do you have any extra comments about your coaching experience with me?
- Is there any area of coaching you would have liked more detailed guidance in?
- Do you have any suggestions to improve our communication?
Even if your coach hasn’t asked for a reivew, you should be able to take the list of questions in this article and use them to open a dialog with your coach. A good coach will recognize that in the long term this helps them in their business. Often the best things I add into my coaching routine are athlete driven. Motivated, engaged and curious athletes can push a coach to become better.
An honest review of yourself and your coach will set you on the best course to achieve your goals for next season – and that is a big thing to get excited about!