Image via Wikipedia
I worked with Terry Ward, the former coach and AD at Bellarmine College Prep in San Jose, California from 1978-1981. Terry was a superb coach, but, more than anything, he was a keen observer of his athletes, the sport and world around him. I do not remember any real parent problems while I worked with him. Terry knew how to calm a parents' fears, and let them know, that he was the coach, they were the parents, and both jobs were quite important.
I seem to recall a story told to me by a coach friend. The coach had a young miler, who, after a great frosh season, was just not running up to par in his sophomore year. After some investigation, the coach found out that a parent was getting the young man up in the morning to run an extra five miles.
The coach was incredulous. But, he recovered quickly. He asked the parent to come to workout. In short order, the coach suggested that the young man might do better using that time for sleep, as he did not seem to be recovering very well. The parent was not getting it. The time spent running with the son was a cherished time.
The coach went home and slept on it. The next day, the coach suggested a compromise. The parent could run five miles with the son on Sundays, but, during the season, morning runs were verbotten. The parent got their time with the son, and the son's racing, after a couple weeks of extra sleep, improved!
Roy Stevenson is a contemporary of Rod Dixon and John Walker, two of the great New Zealand distance runners of the 1970s and 80s. A journalist for the past three decades, Roy has joined the team of AT&F to help us provide coaches resources from which they can improve their coaching technique. As coaching is both scientific and anecdotal, this column is a bit of both. We hope you agree.