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Old 01-10-2020, 12:49 PM
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Question Should a coach raise athletes hopes beyond reason?

Long story.

One of my kids qualified to fence FOIL in the Junior Olympics. The JO event is in mid-February.

The kid is a solid high school fencer, certainly above average. But not great. Just pretty good. He wins a couple medals every year, but doesn't dominate competitions.

I took him to the Junior Olympic qualifiers. He qualified. Had an unusually great day that day. Talked with his parents, and the family is now planning to attend the J.O. competition in February.

Biggest tournament this kid has been in has had about 60-70 kids in his event. And of those 60-70, probably 80% of them are "seasonal" fencers who only compete in high school events and only practice during the high school season. And that accurately describes my kid.

At the Junior Olympics 90+% of the kids fence year around. 75% have private lessons and compete year around. 65% of them will probably travel to the event with their private coach. When I looked at the competitors, there were 312 fencers in his event, approx 2500 in the total competition. Of the 312 in his event, over 175 of them qualified as "Division 1" competitors. My kid is an "unrated" fencer and got lucky to qualify for this event.

95% of the fencers at this competition will be able to beat my kid. Like a bongo drum in a hippie 1950's coffeehouse I want him to go for the learning experience. I talked with him and his family, at length, about expectations. We talked about being humble, about asking the other fencers in his "pool" for advice. I explained that just going is the prize. I know other kids who have gone and LOST EVERY BOUT and I'd expect pretty much that from this kid. Perhaps he will win 1? I doubt he will win 2 unless he is extraordinarily lucky, fencing really well, and someone else is having a bad day.

So all that said, the head coach walks up to the 2 of us, tells this kid he will do well, tells him that he can beat "E" and "D" ranked fencers (both of which are well above this kid's skill level), blah blah blah.

I think the kid just got his hopes up.

I think the head coach screwed up bad.

This kid has basic raw talent but will be a fish out of water at this event. He's never been at anything remotely like this. His mom & dad will be there at his side, they are clueless about fencing. Other kids will have professional coaches, and often will have an entire team as clubs tend to travel in groups.

I told the whole story to my co-coach, she is in total agreement with me and upset about what the head coach did. She's planning to also talk to the kid.

Any advice on what I can and should do?

At this point I'm not looking to correct the coach, I'm worried about the kid.

Both my co-coach and I will be with him today and tomorrow. I want to keep him excited about going, but realistic in expectations. I think being sent to a big event with unrealistic expectations, and then being crushed, will destroy him but sending him there with realistic expectations of learning and meeting people can actually make him look forward to his future.

Am I wrong?

Is the head coach correct?
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Old 01-10-2020, 01:00 PM
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Default Re: Should a coach raise athletes hopes beyond reason?

When in doubt, honesty is always the best policy. I have tried my whole life to live by that timeless adage. Failed a lot too.
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Old 01-13-2020, 09:47 AM
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Default Re: Should a coach raise athletes hopes beyond reason?

Well the other assistant coach and I sat the head coach down at our last tournament. We told him to stop. He’s never been to, or taken a kid to, an event of this level. He doesn’t know.
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Old 01-20-2020, 10:09 PM
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Default Re: Should a coach raise athletes hopes beyond reason?

Similar incident but not at the level you are talking but same principle. My boy wanted to play peewee football and he was on the small side for his age at the time (6 years old). So he got on a team and I told him my only rule was he had to finish what he started and give 100% all the time even in practice. I told him donít be disappointed when you donít get to play as he wasnít that good or when they lost. He did everything I asked him to but when I went to their first game and was watching their practice, I just shook my head as the coaches were allowed to be on the field to help alignment and things like that. They were having trouble getting all the kids lined up facing the right direction, then I took a look at the team they were going to be playing practicing. They lined up in a pro style offense with the quarterback calling audibles with motion and the center calling out blocking schemes. It was unbelievable how good they were. After the game, my boy said we got destroyed and he didnít he play that much. I asked him if he was paying attention to the game while he was on the bench and gave it 100% when he was in the game and he said yes and I told him he did everything I asked him to do and I was proud of him even more so than if they would have won and he didnít do what I had asked. He learned a lot from getting roughed up in practice and being the smallest on the team but always have it his all.
The journey is more valuable than the outcome a lot of the time.
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Old 01-21-2020, 12:14 PM
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Default Re: Should a coach raise athletes hopes beyond reason?

Quote:
Originally Posted by k-dog View Post
...

The journey is more valuable than the outcome a lot of the time.


Agreed.

If your son went in with expectations he would dominate the field and come out the hero he would have been sadly disappointed. Going in with expectations to try hard and learn taught him some things.

That is my whole goal with this kid who is going to get crushed at the junior olympics. Go in and learn. Make a couple friends while he is there. Then at the NEXT event he can find those friends and have someone to warm up with/spar with/and talk to. Observe, learn, try, enjoy.
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