Chris Ritter, of RITTER Sports Performance, interviewed Greg Meehan, Head Women’s Coach of Stanford Swimming.
Coach Meehan is an extremely busy and successful coach. He was recently named the Women’s Head Coach for USA Swimming’s Olympic Team for 2020. He’s just led the Lady Cardinals to three-peat as national champions and along with top two finishes, five out of the last six years!
And if that’s not enough to keep him busy he’s leading arguably some of the most elite female professional swimmers in the world, Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel among them.
But even with all of that he’s learned, and even admits there’s room to improve, at having a healthy work-life balance as a swim coach.
Sneak Peak of Coach Greg Meehan’s Interview
Being a professional swim coach is not for those looking to have an “easy job” with little commitment needed. Quite the opposite, most swim coaching jobs include long hours, lots of weekends at meets and early morning practices. It’s not for those that can’t grind and work hard.
A while ago Coach Meehan realized that his work-life balance wasn’t sustainable for the long run, especially if he wanted to keep being as successful as he was at the highest level of the sport.
So what did he do?
He started golfing once a week instead of running practice.
But what about the swimmers?!!
That’s his job, to run the workouts right?
How can this be a good thing for a coach to skip practice?
These are questions you may be asking yourself as a coach.
But Coach Meehan knew that making this change would actually make him a better coach. And guess what?
His swimmers survived his absence and still performing at an incredibly high level. This type of change can actually be a good change of pace for everyone involved!
Creativity for most happens not when you’re in the middle of the environment that you’re trying to think about. It more often comes when you remove yourself and go into another situation.
So, golfing as a swim coach is probably where your best ideas might come. And even if that’s not the focus, being able to shut off thinking about swimming and your coaching for a while is healthy.
But few coaches do this. They see it as a sign of weakness. That they can’t “handle” their job or the grind.
Most coaches get into this profession to help others but they often neglect their own health as a martyr. This serves no one and coaches need to start taking more responsibility for themselves.
Coach Meehan admits he’s not perfect at this and you shouldn’t expect yourself to be either. And chances are your group isn’t as demanding as his and the schedule he’s having to keep up with.
You really have no excuse as a coach to not start to prioritize your health and long-term sustainability as a coach. If one of the best swim coaches in the world can manage it, then you should be able to as well.
No one is claiming you should skip half of your workouts as a coach. But learning how to balance or find those activities or moments in the week that will help you be sharper as a coach is vital to your long-term success and sustainability.
Think through, if you haven’t already, how you can implement some changes in your current routine to build in more self-care or balance in your coaching life.
You’ll be a better coach for it and it’ll serve your athletes even more. And that’s what every coach should care about the most – how they’re helping their swimmers.
Subscribe to RITTER Sports Performance’s YouTube channel for the full interview with Coach Greg Meehan and many more upcoming interviews with great swim coaches.
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