Young Athlete Who Changed My Life
This story is going to change your day.
It may even change your perspective permanently.
I’m going to tell you about Tom – the young athlete who changed my life.
Exactly 7 years, 3 months and 5 days into my career as an Athletic Development Specialist, Tom walked into my training center with his Mom.
I had been prompted on the phone the week before.
"Tom had an accident when he was a child" I was told by Tom’s mother.
"He is a very bright boy, but the brain trauma he experienced has left him very uncoordinated and lacking some basic motor skills".
I wasn’t concerned. I had worked with young people just like this before and had always found that my brand of coordination-focused athletic development was perfect for re-instilling certain degrees of normal function.
As I watched Tom walk in with his Mom, nothing in particular seemed or looked too out of sorts.
Tom walked with a slight limp and his left arm rested at his side rather than moving in unison with his walking gait.
He looked a little nervous and unsure and I could see that he had rounded shoulders and a slight external rotation to his right hip (what can I say… I assess athletes right from the time they walk in the door!).
"Brian? Nice to meet you – this is my son, Tom"
"Hey Tom, what’s going on?" I asked as I stretched out my hand.
"Not much" Tom said sheepishly, as he looked straight down at the floor and extended his right hand.
"Let’s get started" I said
I was looking at Tom’s mother.
"We’re going to start with…"
Tom’s mother cut me off.
"I’m not staying. Tom insisted that he wanted to work with you on his own – no interference or observing from me. You just let me know about when you will be done for the day and I’ll be back to pick him up"
"Well this is just out initial assessment, so we’ll only need about 30 minutes"
"Fine, I’ll be back by then" Tom’s mother said as she walked towards the door to my facility.
The briskness of her departure startled me. I immediately turned to Tom for some kind of explanation or clarification.
But there he stood, looking straight down – exactly the same as he was when we shook hands.
For the next 30 minutes, I worked with Tom on basic movement skills. First, I would ask him to perform things like skipping exercises, linear and lateral acceleration drills and some throwing games.
I began to ascertain some standard abnormal patterns of movement that Tom had, and worked at correcting some of the ways in which he performed basic motor skills.
As was my style back then, I was coaching Tom in my customary upbeat and loud way – I prided myself on being a positive coach who could always be heard over the din and hubbub in the rest of my facility.
I say ‘back then’ because I’m writing this story almost five years to the day that first met Tom… this time of year always makes me remember him.
As the weights clanged and the other young athletes got louder, I always made it a point to be heard above all the other noise – that’s what good coaches do.
They remain consistent in their coaching style no matter what… or so I thought.
If only I knew then what I have come to know now.
"Here we go, Tom. Just like that. Perfect!" I was practically yelling at this point in sheer excitement to see what Tom and I had been able to do together in just one 30-minute session.
Then, something out of the blue hit me.
Tom was barely talking.
He was polite and certainly listened to my instructions – you could tell that from the way his movement patterns had become more crisp and clean.
But I was clearly more happy and excited about his improvements than he was.
Being the caring Coach that I am, I decided to investigate.
"Things are looking awesome, Tom!" I declared in my usual loud pitch.
"Ya" Tom countered while looking down
"If you don’t mind me asking, why don’t you seem more excited about that?"
"I am" he insisted, "It’s just the way your yelling at me – It’s kind of making me nervous"
His words hit me like a racecar going 150…
…So much so that I had to stop myself from declaring my innocence to this 15-year-old kid.
I decided to probe instead.
"How do you mean I’m yelling at you, Tom?"
"You know. You keep raising your voice and calling instructions out to me in a loud way"
But this is the way I coach, I thought to myself. I always prided myself on being the kind of coach that all my athletes could actually hear… even in the middle of a loud, crowded gym.
"So, when you hear me raise my voice, you feel as though I am speaking negatively towards you?" I asked uncertainly
"Ya… of course" Tom explained.
Just then, Tom’s mother came back. Our 30-minute session was over.
I shook Tom’s hand again, thanked him for doing such a great job and made an appointment later than week to see him again.
Tom walked out of my gym exactly the way he had walked in – with his head down and looking kind of nervous.
The story doesn’t end there.
I trained Tom for another 3 full years and watched him go 0 – 22 in his high school wrestling career.
For many, that would have been considered an awful experience, but for Tom, and everyone who knew him, it was nothing short of miraculous.
Here was this teenager with significant motor skills impairments, a limp and various other structural abnormalities, joining the high school wrestling team where he and everyone else knew that he was bound to ‘lose’ every match – but he didn’t care.
Tom was a fighter.
I suppose it makes sense to end the story there, doesn’t it?
Tom’s courage, tenacity and determination have impacted me to this day.
In fact, I can honestly say that my life will never be the same after watching Tom do what he did during the 3-years that I trained him.
This article is about how Tom changed my life, and I have certainly explained one part of how that happened.
But the ‘rest of the story’ is something even more important.
Tom taught me how to coach.
That sounds funny doesn’t it?
I mean, when I met Tom, I had already trained Olympic Champions, Professional Athletes and traveled throughout Europe and North America as the Conditioning Director for National Team programs.
I had coached A LOT of athletes – and felt like I knew what I was doing.
But the real impact Tom had on my life was when he taught me that not all athletes like to be coached the same way.
I was always positive, upbeat and excited for my athletes.
That was how I coached.
But Tom didn’t like being coached like that – when he heard my voice raise, all he processed was that I was ‘yelling’ at him.
And it made me think.
How many athletes ‘process’ what you say in a completely different way than they way you had intended them to hear it?
Because of Tom, I created my * Art of Coaching template*, which is a categorization of athletes based on their personality and temperament.
It requires no extensive assessments or surveys, just a subjective analysis that allows you to * classify your athletes into one of 4 very unique and very critical coaching templates*.
From there, you will know exactly how to coach each athlete in order to get the very best out of them you possibly can.
I had it wrong for so many years.
All I cared about was how to develop speed, agility or strength.
Learn as much as I could about what exercises best developed blazing speed…
Understand which way of squatting was the most important to developing killer strength…
Tom taught me that the key to it all was in the way it was presented to the athlete.
After all, what’s the use of having the best training program in the entire world if your young athlete aren’t even paying attention to you?
And that’s why I created the Complete Athlete Development System
It is a perfect combination of all my internationally field-tested training programs that have been proven effective in every continent in the world, along with the free bonus of my revolutionary Art of Coaching template.
After presenting a seminar in Phoenix last year to a group of me peers, I had one attendee post this message on a sport-based message board 2 days later –
"No insult to the other presenters, but Brian’s talk was the most engaging and enlightening… This man is a Coach – Capitalization intended"
I appreciated the comment, and you will appreciate the Art of Coaching template.
It’s exactly what you have been looking for to become the best Coach or Trainer possible.
And your athlete’s will appreciate it also.
‘Tlll next time,
P.S. – Have a close look at my young athlete Complete Athlete Development System here