My history has made trust hard for many, many years.
I do not ask for help, ever, anything that makes me vulnerable simply isn’t going to be asked for. Just one of the very many things that keeps my therapist busy even after all these years!
Sport creates a quandary, you need someone to teach you, then you need someone to help you improve or deal with issues that arise, someone with the knowledge that you don’t have.
How do you find that person, where do you find them? Word of my mouth, internet search engines, sports governing bodies ……….?
You found one, how do you judge them? Know when things are right or wrong? For it to work you have to trust them, but if you trust them and then you aren’t sure about something but they explain or justify it, well they are the expert right? When do you ask someone else’s thoughts, whose opinion is the right one?
Different coaches have different ideas, different methods – right? With a little niggle, a little doubt, maybe it fades, may be it grows, and on you go. Until next time, the next thing and so the circle begins. How do you know when to ask or who to ask?
That was my merry go round, and it went on for 2 years, I tried to ask the coach, that never went well! So then I became reluctant to question anything, so I decided the better idea would be an email, a coach may be a friend but it’s also a working relationship and emails are absolutely appropriate in that setting.
Well that got me an early morning (5:30) angry, incredibly angry phone call. Screaming! How dare I speak to the coach in that way! Well I have that email, I have read it many times, it’s polite, respectful and carefully worded, my coach had had me in tears on the range on more than one occasion, some times in front of others, trust me I was careful because I was very much aware of the rage that could be triggered.
Apparently their coaching and authority had never been questioned or disrespected in such a way.
My quietly spoken question of if that was because no one else had experienced the same or had they simply not felt able to ask was met with more rage.
The response to all of this was not what I had hoped, not a sit down let’s look at how to answer those questions and make it safe for me to ask more questions about what and why we were doing things, but a slow destructive pattern that the following summer ended with me being told I have no place in this sport in any role, as an archer, a volunteer as someone who champions what this sport has to offer and what it can give.
The most destructive of endings I think to a coach/athlete relationship.
So I have fought to stay, on the line and in every other role that I value in my sport. Carved out where I am safe and who I am safe with. That trust that I barely had when I let that coach in, shattered.
To stay shooting with everything my body faces I need help, my physio – who never left, and someone who can offer the coaching but knowing I have a serious issue letting anyone have that access.
I am blessed to know many coaches, numerous sports and levels in my friendship circle. 2 who I can tentatively ask questions and who know what daring to reach out costs me, who are patient and gentle and supportive. They also respect each other, actually something else that I have learned isn’t as common as it should be either, another massive issue within coaching.
This year I have dared to let my friend, my county captain and safeguarding officer in a little, he coached me previously and he gets it. Occasional sessions where I ask questions and there may be tweaking but we shoot together, kind of coaching but without the label.
Whilst everything fell apart in Dunster I reached out to him and my physio to ask me to save my shooting with me.
Today we did that, tweaked and looked at options and sent me out into the world with work to do knowing I will ask my next question when I am ready.
I have become aware that the other coach has stepped further into my world and to stay safe I may need to shrink my world a little more, may loose one of my most important safe spaces. We are looking at ways around that.
My point? Don’t be afraid to ask questions, be brave enough to trust on your terms, there will be someone out there who will accept those terms and work with you.
If you don’t feel safe tell someone, anyone, and keep telling them until someone listens. I promise some of us do. One day we will all be safe ❤️🏹