Knowing what I don’t know

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I want to know everything. I want to be the most amazing coach with all the answers and the best technique and I want to be able to coach skating and off skating and life and skates and the mental game and how to coach and whatever else people need coaching on. I want to be the be all and the end all and the master of everything.

But just to be clear, I’m pretty sure it’s not possible. And when I see it in writing it all feels a little bit like I’ve got a God-complex or striving to have one.

So how can I manage expectations – not just the expectations of skaters in terms of what I am able to give them as a coach, but my expectations in terms of what I’m going to be able to achieve?

like_you_know_everything-2145The first most difficult thing for me is to know that I actually just don’t have the time to know everything.

I pore through blogs and videos and I have sufficient time to realise what I don’t quite know enough about, but I don’t have the time to follow up and know it. I don’t have the time to get a degree in strength and conditioning (which is what I would really like to do) or to take apart all the different types of skates to be able to cleverly explain why such and such a plate is better for such and such type of skating. Not if I also want time to actually coach and skate.

I manage this in two ways.

One, I have to keep an awareness of what information is available online so that when I get those questions, I can signpost. It’s a bit like project management really (my day job). Have an overview of everything and point people in the right direction.

Two, choose a focus. The more I chase after knowing everything, the less I know. I have a list taller than myself of all the things I think knowing more about will help with my coaching. Some of it is pretty integral stuff. Some of it is bonus stuff that there are probably people better qualified to do.

At the moment, I’m focusing on finding a course for breaking down skating to beginners. Fundamentals of edge work and how to use body weight to make your skates work. I know quite a bit through the last 2 years of coaching. I learn something new with every new skater, but I think a course would help me find more of the language and techniques to help skaters feel comfortable and progress faster… and I’ll have to save my S&C expertise for another year.

The second also quite difficult thing is to not be paralysed by what I know I don’t know.

I’ve lived quite a few years and most of them I’ve been pretty aware of my own body in terms of sport and skating. I’ve had injuries and ill times. I’ve tried most of the nutritional advice. I’ve done every kind of cross training possible. And every single time I’ve tried something new, I have researched it from all sides. I’ve burned out my Google search and I’ve experimented with my own well-being. And, at the end of the day, I have a lot of information in my brain about what works for me and why I think that is.

I try to approach each question with “I’ve done this [insert very clever thing I’ve done] and it’s worked for me. It might be something to try.”

There’s no real moral to this tale other than to keep learning. Keep talking. Keep researching. Keep coaching.


MahaBio: “I’m an American transplant in the UK.  I’ve had quite a few years to try quite a few sports.  The sports that I find myself in love with, I have been coaching in varying capacities over the last 10 years.  I started by herding 5 year olds through a capoeira roda, got my Level 2 in coaching rowing, and now roller derby.  I love roller derby because there is no standard skater.  The women who are successful in roller derby today do not fit into one age bracket or size bracket or body shape bracket, even as the sport athleticizes itself away from the traditional counter culture of its original revival.

I started as the Head Coach of the only recreational roller derby league in Yorkshire with Leeds Roller Dolls in 2014 and am now setting out to contribute to the roller derby community by supporting coaches of new and developing clubs with practical resources, coach mentoring, and networks for development. ”

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