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Batman Vs. Superman

Batman and Superman are two of the most popular superheroes from the comic book world. Both have a strong record of fighting crime and making the world a safer place. At the same time, HOW they fight crime and they derive their skills are very different.

Superman is an omnipotent being with physical gifts that are vastly superior to mere mortals. Through these physical gifts, he is able to overwhelm his opponents. In contrast, Batman possesses none of these gifts. He has developed his ability to fight crime by learning skills, developing strategy, and harnessing technology which allows for a competitive advantage.

Superman is the natural talent and Batman represents the manufactured talent.

Consider coaching. In a very broad sense, effective coaches must-

  • Effectively relate to individuals and manage inter-personal relationships.

  • Create a culture of excellence.

  • Inspire individuals to aspire to be great and instill a confidence and belief

  • Effectively assign and implement training loads.

  • Understand biomechanics, the application of effective technique, and how to facilitate technical change.

Not only are their multiple tasks within each aspect of these coaching skillsets, there are multiple ways to achieve each of these objectives. Being brilliant in any one area can make up for shortcomings in other areas. As such, there are many different ways to be a great coach, and it unlikely that any one coach will be superior in all aspects. In actuality, many traits are oppositional. For example, excellent planners will often struggle with spontaneity and the converse is true as well.

Moving back to our superhero framework, we all represent a composite of Batman and Superman. On the path toward exceptional coaching, it’s important to honestly assess where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Our success as coaches will be dependent on our ability to leverage our natural strengths while working to minimize our weaknesses through conscious and strategic development.

Leveraging Your Strengths

We all possess natural talents that lend themselves toward success in any one or more areas of coaching. Some coaches can inspire swimmers to greatness, others have an incredible ability to teach, whereas others have a terrific sense for designing effective training programs.

As coaches, we are largely in control of the environment we create, and we can use this control to leverage our strengths. While many coaches have an implicit awareness of their strengths and tend to cater to them intuitively, working to consciously apply these strengths can magnify the effects of these strengths.

Are you able to get kids really excited to swim fast and work hard? Create practices that allow you to more effectively create this environment. 10*400 is probably not going to inspire a lot of excitement in most kids. However, training design focused on racing likely will. If racing gets YOU excited, this excitement will carry over to your swimmers and the impact will be significant.

Are you excellent at teaching skills? Design practices that allow for high levels of interaction and as many learning opportunities as possible. This will ensure that you are engaged in the practice and this will positively affect your swimmers. You can further improve this strength by learning everything you can about effective technique and how to teach it.

Do your natural skill sets allow you to inspire swimmers? Make sure you create as many opportunities for you to use this skill, even if it means that you have to take away from time in the water. This natural skill set will be even more effective if you chose to develop this skill set further through various developmental opportunities.

The important idea is to know where you are great, what your Superman abilities are, and find a way to build your coaching style and coaching practices around these skills.

Minimizing Your Weaknesses

When considering weaknesses, we have two options. We can work to improve those weaknesses, or we can work strategically to make those weaknesses irrelevant.

For Batman, his weaknesses revolved around his physical frailty and immobility, certainly when compared to Superman. He took two approaches to resolve the situation. First, he worked to improve his physical fitness and fighting skills through rigorous training.

Secondly, he used one of his strengths, financial resources, to develop body armor to protect himself. In addition, he used these resources to create superior mobility by developing state-of-the-art vehicles.

He used his primary strength to render his major weaknesses inconsequential.

When considering your weaknesses, it is important to differentiate between weaknesses that represent a lack of knowledge as compared to a lack of ‘ability’. For those skills that result from a lack of knowledge, it is imperative to rectify those shortcomings. In many cases, it is a matter of education and there are numerous avenues available to learn the requisite skills.

At the same time, some weaknesses are more innate. In this case, we need to find ways to use our strengths to compensate for these weaknesses. Identify your weaknesses and understand the nature of these weaknesses, and then develop strategies to make these weaknesses irrelevant.

If you are not an excitable coach, it makes little sense to spend your time and energy working to ‘hype’ your swimmers. Not only will this exhaust you, your swimmers likely won’t respond to it. Instead, focus on applying your consistency and dependency to build belief and trust in your swimmers.

Moving Forward

As coaches, we all have a coaching profile composed of unique strengths and weaknesses that we bring to the deck each day. Some of these strengths are built upon innate tendencies and others have been developed through consistent practice and learning. At the same time, we have weaknesses that are the result of innate tendencies, in addition to a lack of development.

To make the most of our coaching practice, it’s imperative to recognize our strengths and weaknesses, as well as which areas are likely to change. For those skills that can change, it is on us pursue avenues that allow for continued development. For those unlikely to chance, it makes sense to develop a plan to maximize these strengths and leveraging them to overcome our innate weaknesses.

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