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Strictly speaking, the relationship between an athlete and a coach was not subordinate-superior, but rather quite cooperative. They both aimed for a common goal: to achieve better results through training. This is similar to the relationship between a doctor and a patient. In simple terms, they form a cooperative relationship comparable to that of soldiers fighting in the same trench against a common enemy (disease).
Unfortunately, the country's system made the medical profession profit-driven, in which doctors no longer made a living with their medical knowledge, but by over-prescribing medication and examinations, and increasing the usage of medical devices. As a result, it complicated the relationship between doctors and patients. Instead of fighting in the same trench, they ended up on opposing sides of the battle.
Coaches were spared the doctors' trouble. Whether it was the sports schools, universities, training and sports teams of various levels, or even the national teams, coaches were paid by financial allocation, the same way athletes were. Because of this, coaches and athletes did not develop any conflict similar to that between doctors and patients.
In addition, the country had issued specific regulations that allowed coaches to take a certain percentage from the athletes' prize money and advertisement earnings.Because of this, coaches were motivated to cultivate world-class athletes, which would bring not only fame and status, but also the big bucks. Driven by this system, coaches were fully devoted to their athletes.
Although athletes and coaches were soldiers that relied on each other, they were not teammates. This was reflected in their age. Athletes lived off the few peak years of their youth. If they could not achieve anything during those few years, they would lose their chance to be better. Age spares no one, and even God cannot grant the athletes a second youth.
Coaches, however, could have life-long professions. The longer they coached, the more experience they accumulated, and the better they became. If their first athlete could not make it, they could always coach a second, third, and so on. After coaching enough athletes, they always came across a talented one. Unlike athletes, coaches could have a Plan B. It was similar to someone being in a battle. While one has to risk his life to march forward, the other has the option to retreat in disadvantageous situations and wait for back-up.
An athlete's career was short, but a coach's career was long. An athlete could not outlast a coach. Because of this, athletes could not train on their own. They had to follow the instructions of professional coaches and could not miss any opportunities to improve themselves. Regardless of the sport, stubborn athletes who refused to listen to their coaches were not likely to have long careers.
Dai Li did not think of it in these terms, nor did he analyze the situation that way. He simply felt that it was an athlete's obligation to following the coach's plan in training. It was wrong for an athlete to disobey the coach.
In the past year of his coaching career, Dai Li had encountered some disobedient athletes, such as Aiguo Jiang. None of the coaches of the weightlifting team were willing to work with him, yet Aiguo Jiang had enough experience and training skills to train himself. He was qualified to tell a coach what not to do.
Another example was Feixiang Lin. His attitude was disobedient, and was neither punctual nor devoted to training. But Lin was a superstar athlete with amazing performance. He was able to refuse the guidance of a coach.
However, these five athletes on the Youth Team were neither experienced nor accomplished. Somehow they were ignoring Dai Li's instructions, which made him furious.
After a couple of days, Dai Li figured out that the five athletes were doing the bare minimum. Every morning each one showed up on the hour, and in the evening none of them could wait for the training to end.
What was more startling was that they were half-heartedly training. Each of them were aiming for completion of the chosen movement they were practicing. None of them bothered trying to improve or perfect it.
There were two reasons to practice the movements: one was to be more skillful, and the other was to correct any flaws. Neither purpose could be achieved if the training was superficial.
Dai Li had the urge to expel all five athletes for this. But after thinking about it carefully, he realized that expelling the athletes upon his arrival would prove nothing but his own incompetence as a coach, and an inability to train his own athletes. What kind of coach could he be if he could not handle a stubborn athlete?
Not only that, but these five men were all he had to coach. If they were expelled, Dai Li would become a general with no soldiers. Without athletes, a coach had no reason to be there.
Dai Li was troubled by this situation. He never learned how to deal with disobedient athletes in school. Eventually, Zhongyi Xu crossed Dai Li's mind. Xu's experience might have been able to help him with this matter.
Dai Li made a phone call and asked Zhongyi Xu out for dinner. Xu agreed promptly.
Dai Li told Zhongyi Xu about his recent conundrum at the dinner table.
"Disobedient? Just beat them. Beat them hard!" Xu's spirit was high after a few drinks.
"Xu, I'm not joking with you. I seriously need your help." Dai Li sounded slightly helpless.
Xu did not tease him any further. After thinking for a few seconds, he replied, "From what you described, I think the athletes have their own reasons for being disobedient. You mentioned that the five athletes were mediocre. If they haven't had satisfactory results in a long time, they may have lost their confidence and now train with a negative attitude. They may even resist the training."
Dai Li nodded in agreement. Zhongyi Xu was indeed an experienced top-level coach, and pinpointed the root of the problem.
"What should I do then?" Dai Li asked immediately.
While devouring the dishes on the table with his head down, Zhongyi Xu answered, "The first thing you need to do is re-establish their confidence. You need to make them feel that after following your training that their performance will indeed improve. Once they see that, they will no longer resist the training. It would be best if you can impress them and show them what you are capable of."
"I get it. What you are saying is, if I can impress them, they will listen to me!" Dai Li nodded after understanding what to do. "This is easy. I'm good at impressing people!"
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