Friday, 1 February 2013

Welcome Mr. Rollason!! Yesterday you made my day!

Yesterday the name of the new high performance coach in the national training center in Denmark was announced. Much to my surprise but also delight it was Shannon Rollason. I was surprised because I have been told now for ten years by the Danish federation and its coaches that all Danish coaches and clubs are "too soft" on their swimmers. And I expected that to be the case for the direction of any newhire this year too.

When reading up on mr. Rollason (and asking about him in the small part of my network who have actually spoken to the man) a very different picture than "mindless pursuit of toughness" emerged. It seems that Shannon Rollason incorporates a new way of coaching - new at least to the Danish federation. As I could figure (I am sure he will tell us more when he starts) his starting point is to listen to the swimmers and encorporate a regime that allows them to be as much a part of the process as the coach. I even found a site which stated that Shannon Rollason was frowned upon in Australia because he was not "tough enough" on his swimmers. Hallelujah! (I was beginning to doubt it ... but it seems that maybe people CAN perform without being yelled at and scared/ridiculed?!)

For ten years now the general consensus in our federation has been to work against the general attitude in the educational sectors in Scandinavia: That young people should be able to think and make decisions for themselves. The result being that a ludicrous number of swimmers in the national training centre quit their careers or huried to the United States to swim in the college system. And every time someone left or quit it was excused with the phrase "He/she was not tough enough. They did not have what it takes". The swimmers that succeeded were praised for "Having what it takes". And they DID perform - no question about it. But it was never accepted that there might be swimmers that could reach world class level without "toughness" and yelling. There was one one way towards the target - the hard, yelling, tough, Alpha male-way.

I thank God (and this comes from an atheist) that this seemingly acknowledged process from a national body is about to change.

I welcome you to Denmark Mr. Rollason! If just half of what I have read and heard about you is true, this "could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship" ....

Ricki Clausen
Danish club coach and a very firm believer in the power of own thinking!

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