Recently, I was lucky enough to be able to ask Don Talbot a question. For those of you who have never heard of Don Talbot, he is a former Canadian and Australian swimming coach, alleged to be one of the most successful coaches the world has ever seen. Since the 1950s he has coached Olympic champions and World Record holders every year for a thirty-year period. In 1981, Talbot was appointed the inaugural Director of the Australian Institute of Sport – a position he held until 1984, when he became the national head coach for Swimming Canada, leading it to its greatest period of success in the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics. My question to Talbot was this:
If you had one piece of advice to give to a competing high school athlete and an aspiring collegiate athlete, what would it be?
His answer was this:
One piece of advice to aspiring athletes —— commit fully and know you are doing everything to be the best—lifestyles, training, and so on. You can bet that your rivals will be doing that.
What this means to me is that if you truly desire to compete at the next level, you must completely commit to that goal. Everything you do must reflect your aspirations to play your sport in college. Your lifestyle must be such that you do not detract from that goal. Your skill training and athletic development also must be aligned with that goal. Your eating and nutritional habits must complement your development so as to maximize your training. You must demand the most out of any opportunity you have to better yourself and your sports skill. If you are not doing this, you can count on the fact that someone else is, and they will be the one to take your spot on a college roster.