Olympic Champion Michael Phelps’ Coach Reveals the Secrets to the Swimmer’s Success
Following the boxing team's historic success at the London Olympics he was Bob worked with the male and female boxers in the build-up to the London. (CNN) Growing up in a one-room home in Ghana, Akwasi Frimpong never envisaged he would one day race down a South Korean mountain. In the years that followed, the Bob Bowman prodigy became the most decorated swimmer In making his fourth Olympic appearance at London , where he .
GB Boxing Coaching Team
So, for nine months or so, I hung out at the racetrack watching the thoroughbreds, I relaxed at the beach, I read a lot of books, I watched too much Food Network, and, most of all, I paused and looked ahead. By no means, though, was this a breakup. We were also in talks with a manufacturer to design and develop a new type of racing suit. Plus, the way I saw things, those jobs had nothing on my previous one: While Michael and I waited for the sommelier to arrive, we small-talked.
He asked about my latest misadventures in the kitchen; those Food Channel shows had hooked me on trying to become an amateur chef. He told me about his latest trials with his putter. Our last few years of Olympic training had tested our friendship, and my sanity. And the memories were still raw. I took a breath and, with my glass filled with a nice Merlot, sat back and relaxed.
Michael leaned forward and his eyes narrowed. He smiled a bit. He sort of grinned and nodded. A few months earlier, while he was on vacation with some buddies in Cabo San Lucas, Michael had called me late one night and started blathering on about making some sort of return. But on this night, as he sat across the table from me, I could tell he was serious. And I wondered, Why? Why would he want to go through all the effort of another Olympic cycle?
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Michael had legendary status: The press had scrutinized nearly every angle of his short life; a comeback would put the media back on his trail.
Plus, had he forgotten the run-up to the London Olympics and how miserable both he and I were? There was silence for a minute or so. I thought about what his decision would mean, for him and for me. Michael, I mean it: You should not do it. I love to swim. I want to swim. Yes, in a matter of a few minutes, my life had suddenly become more complicated.
I knew that along with Anxiety and Stress, Michael would be making a comeback, too. But that was okay, because it meant that I was once again in the business of working with someone who knew how to dream big and also knew what it took to make such a dream real.
One stroke, one kick, one race at a time, a partnership in pursuit of excellence. While others have done the same thing in laboratories and backyard garages, in high-rise office towers and small shops along Main Street, USA, we just happened to do much of our work within the confines of a pair of meter pools on the outskirts of downtown Baltimore. And one more thing made us somewhat unique: We followed a process that I call, simply, the Method. And I believe it can work just as well in the boardroom, in a retail shop, in the family kitchen as it did in our swimming venues.
Anywhere achievement and excellence are sought, the Method can work. Sure, you might be saying, the Method works because this guy Bowman coached the greatest natural-born swimmer ever. To be honest, the Method uses a simple formula. Together with an athlete or one of my employees, I break things down, then look to build them up. We set plans to follow by the day, the week, the month, and the year, along with desired outcomes. Lord knows we butt heads.
And I had to realize that I needed to work even harder to take him from respectable to wondrous. No shortcuts permitted by either of us. It starts one day in the spring ofwhen Michael was eleven and he was practicing with a group of kids about his age. That morning I immediately spotted a major flaw in his butterfly.
It had to do with his breathing—specifically, the timing of when he took a breath. Sure, Michael may be an amazing physical specimen, but even he needed to get air into his body when racing 50 or or meters of butterfly, perhaps the most strenuous stroke in the sport. That is, until you jump into a pool and have a go at it. And there was more instruction to come: In reality, they were absolutely altering his stroke. The changes took weeks and months of practice to perfect.
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Through the Method Michael would get tired of hearing me repeat the commands. Remember, Michael, just lift the chin!
The instruction came in a loop. But it was through that cycle of instruction and repetition that success finally came. Within four years, by the time he was fifteen, Michael had set the world record for the meter butterfly.
In the decades during which swimming records have been kept, decades that featured such stars as Johnny Weissmuller and Mark Spitz, no man had ever swum meters of butterfly faster than this fifteen-year-old.
Because he took a plan and worked it. Too many athletes and performers, and people in general, think the court or the stage or the podium in front of a sales team is where they really shine. Michael produced that first world record—the first of thirty-nine he would set—because of all the mundane workouts he put himself through during the early-morning swim practices at an off-the-beaten-path pool in Baltimore.
We practiced twice a day, at 7 a. And any improvement you make comes in milliseconds, not minutes. Michael struggled through many of those practices; I know, because I was with him for nearly every one. I saw how his breathing would be right one day but then fall apart by the next. And I would remind him and pester him, and he would look at me in disgust. However, after confiding in his coaches, he was given a place at Amsterdam's highly regarded Johan Cruyff College in Frimpong studied public relations, marketing and communications - and went on to become International Student of the Year.
However, his illegal status meant he couldn't travel to Barcelona to receive the award from the football legend, so Cruyff flew to Amsterdam to present the honour. Switching things up After a long struggle, Frimpong was eventually granted official residency in the Netherlands inmeaning he could concentrate on training to qualify for the Dutch athletics team for the London Olympics. But just as quickly as his hopes were ignited, they were shattered all over again when he suffered a devastating Achilles injury.
Refusing to let the news crush his dreams, Frimpong toyed over his future for six months before deciding to trade the athletics track for the ice, securing a spot on the Dutch bobsleigh team for the Winter Olympics in Sochi. He decided to sell his car and sell vacuums door-to-door near his training base in Utah. The road to Pyeongchang Frimpong's bobsleigh coach told him not to give up and try a different sport - skeleton. But my wife is the one that told me, 'Hey, I don't want you to be 99 years old and still be whining about your Olympic dream, so let's go for it'.
Mastering the sport usually takes four to six years, but Frimpong did it in less than two. By the end ofhe had reached 95th in the world rankings. But his Olympic dream would only become a reality once he made it into the top 60, so he completed five races on three tracks around the world and successfully confirmed his qualification on 15 January - only two years after first racing.
Frimpong has now won eight gold, four silver and four bronze medals at local and international events. Media playback is not supported on this device Winter Olympics Guide to skeleton The rabbit theory Frimpong should be quite easy to spot on the ice, given his unconventional choice of headgear - a helmet featuring an image of a rabbit escaping from a lion's mouth - something he attributes to his former sprint coach.
The analogy is based on the 'Rabbit Theory', in which a rabbit is in a cage surrounded by lions. So you see on my helmet a rabbit escape out of a lion's mouth. Or, as the locals say, "Ghana in 60 seconds".