Let's talk about some of the uncomfortable stuff. When an athlete moves to a new coach or club you can bet there are some feelings about the situation whether you are the athlete, the coach, or even the new coach/club. In my time as coach I have experienced these situations many times. Some handled very well by myself and the athlete, some handled very poorly by both, and everything in between. I felt the need recently to spend some time writing out a few best practices to help athletes and coaches make this transition easier from all points of view.
Our profession as coaches, is way more than sets and reps, or exercises selection. We devote our life to helping others in and out of the gym. It's only natural that we end up being very passionate about our athletes and their wellbeing. With that being said, finding out one of our athletes isn't happy and is moving to another coach or club abruptly is one way to quickly escalate a situation. Communication is key. If you're an athlete and struggling with your progress, or something happening in the gym. You need to speak with your coach. Tell them that you have concerns, if your coach cares about your concerns they will hear you out and help you fix them. Let's just assume that you have done this, and your coach has been unable to help you address your concerns, and you would like to explore other options. How should you move forward?
First...Have another conversation with your coach. Tell them you appreciate their help, but are still having a hard time with whatever issues came up earlier in conversations. Tell them you would like to explore other options for your athletic endeavors that may be a better fit for you. Ask them if they have input on local coaches or club's that may be a better fit for you. By having this conversation, you are letting your current coach know you appreciate their time, and efforts. While still giving them the opportunity to help you find something that may be a better situation for you. As coaches, when we are unable to help an athlete, being given this opportunity to help relocate an athlete really helps with the coach not feeling like they may have failed an athlete. During this conversation your current coach will likely tell you about another local coaches or clubs that may be a good fit for you. This also allows the current coach to reach out to coaches and start a conversation about moving you as an athlete that way. When coaches communicate the feelings of other coaches or teams poaching athletes is completely taken off the table. Odds are communicating with your current coach will also allow you to continue training in your gym during your transition. Meaning you will stay in good standing, and your current coach will likely continue to stand behind you long after you have transitioned to a new coach all because you took the time to communicate.
Second...If you are the athlete in transition to your new coach or club. Remember that whether or not you got everything you wanted from your first coach, they cared for you. You mattered to them, they supported you and helped you find your new home. Be professional and kind when their name or the previous clubs name come up. You can ruin the good work you do for a smooth transition with how you handle yourself in your new home.
Third...If you are the previous coach or club that the athlete is transitioning away from. Remember that athlete took the time to communicate with you. Support them, cheer for them at meets or in training. Allow them to visit. There is no rule that says they have to communicate in this way to you. They chose to out of respect. Be professional.
Lastly. Always remember weightlifting is, and will always remain a fairly small sport. The relationships forged through coach/athlete and among clubs help us grow as a sport. While you may not agree with another coaches philosophy or club principles. That doesn't mean they are wrong, or should change. At the end of the day, we are ll trying to grow weightlifting as a sport. Coaches making transitions difficult, athletes speaking poorly of coaches, or other coaches not pushing athletes to communicate with their current coach before making transitions all ultimately create hard situations that run athletes and coaches out of the sport.
In closing. Be kind, remember that clear communication can solve most problems before they ever become problems. Athletes to coaches, coaches to athletes, coaches to coaches...just communicate, and be respectful.