Michael Bohl - The Fundamental WHYs behind performance, team, and community.
The show takes a look at people and organizations doing things in their own way every day to make things better for folks like you and I. Our guest today is a steward of that philosophy. We speak with Michael Bohl out of Australia; he is currently the head coach at Griffith University swim team and runs a performance program there. Now you may have, I certainly have seen Michael at many swimming & coaching conferences and listened to him speak many times, and we know he's got a wealth of knowledge to share. But today, we will drill down to is why he does what he does. Because apart from being an incredible coach, he's also an outstanding human being who creates amazing communities and teams everywhere he goes. And no matter who you talk to, they've always got something great to say about this guy.
So we're going to get into it. We're going to explore the technical side of what he does, but really, this is about Michael. And we're going to focus there.
What follows is an unedited summary of our talk with Micheal Bohl
'''Watching the Olympics was like watching a culture that hadan unselfish passion for doing what it does.'''
I wanted to really get into the theme of the interview.
If I'm going to be a better coach, I want to be a bettercommunicator.
A happy athlete or swimmer is one who wants to improve andputs himself in a position to do so.
It's all about trying to improve the coaches and athletesfirst and foremost. If you can make your coaches better and your athletesbetter, you're going to have a successful program.
It's interesting how swim coaches try to improve the people infront of them. They want to make the athletes better as people, not as justathletes.
You always seem to have this positive outlook in life. Is thatsomething you learned from your family?
The athletes and the people surrounding you will be positive,and you have to be positive yourself.
When you look for the positive in every negative experience,like when you miss the Olympics, you try to find the positive side.
I missed the Olympic team. I missed 84, and I think it was thebest opportunity I had as a swimmer.
I was a coach to get people to try and get them into finals.The next avenue for me was to be a coach.
To strive for Olympic success, and make an impact with thepeople you've got on the team, is a goal that drives and eats at him.
My mother cleaned buses and worked two or three jobs tosupport five kids.
I learned a lot about swimming from my coaches, DennisPursley, Bill Sweet and Laurie Lawrence.
I think all the coaches I've worked with really helped medevelop as a swimmer when I was swimming.
In letter coaching, you should also think about what a personwould do in a certain situation.
The three year cycle into the 2021 Olympics is unusual becausecoaches normally take a four year cycle.
In three years, the program could look drastically differentbecause of the coaches and the swimmers.
It involves thinking about the events, the people, and thetimes I'm going to make finals three years from now.
Looking at the last couple of Olympic cycles, it seems to be amuch harder competition.
The Olympics in Rio were denied, but the standard in Tokyo washigh and it will get even tougher in three years.
We're going to make the team and then we'll figure out a wayto improve once we've made the team.
Trying to get on the phone, and then using the potty, will getyou to the Olympics.
There's some new people that I'm going to try and learn a lotabout.
I'm trying to work out new swimmers quickly, and I'm trying toget as much improvement out of them as I can.
I want to ask a question about the Commonwealth games, and thefirst time you met Alex.
[00:12:26] I was just amazed by his talent, and the greatrange of his swimming.
He was a fearless competitor, you know, and was just a greatswimmer.
Alex was my old boss when I worked in Queens and a wonderfulperson.
He has been the CEO of swimming Australia and chief strategistof the Queensland academy of sport.
We're sad to see Alex go, but he did a great job in Queenslandand Australia.
The group moved from St. Peter's to Griffith, and I assumethat Alex was involved in that decision.
The leadership to reorganize the centers and so forth is yourlegacy to him.
Alex was a great leader and he made the right decisions.
'''Alex influenced all decisions about the swimming team towin, and not just first, second, third, or infants.'''
The admin can't coach, so all the admin can do is set upsystems and work within the system that he inherited.
The national head coaches Jack Oberon and Rowan Tyler set upthe systems in place.
Alex was the manager that came up with the slogan,"Winning when it matters to inspire a nation".
When racing, the goal is to score a goal, touch the wallfirst, to win.
The pressure to win permeates into a program or into aswimmer's program.
If we put too much emphasis on winning it, we will end up witha smaller number of successful centers.
It's fun and enjoyment for all involved in the junior programat St. Peter's.
If your squads aren't getting bigger, you need to teach youryounger son a great technique.
I think it's important to have the kids turn up for the clubwhen they're younger, and develop a sense of team and comradeship.
The younger athletes were aligned to win, but I think as theygot older they focused on improving their speed and technical abilities.
I think it's important to emphasize the importance of goodtechnique and great strike mechanics.
San Pedro's Western coach explains that, with youngerswimmers, it's more about fun and enjoyment, while with older swimmers theemphasis is on times and competition.
Aston's reputation is tough, so St. Peter's has to be ready.
After Peter's Western summer, Dan and the coaching ruins andpennies have kept Dan's skills and have taken it to another level.
The keys were left with Dean as he moved to Griffith, but theyare still there as the club is still going strong.
Don't bring, build it even bigger. And what does it mean toyou to see your son have a successful Olympics?
The kids from St Peter's swam well at trials, but they know itwasn't just Arianne who did well.
The team at St. Peter's Western is attributed to Dean who wasunable to get on the team.
Arianne was working with Dan when I was still at St. Peter'sand I was very proud of her.
Ariana did an incredible job to get Dan to break four minutesin the 200 freestyle.
Arianne and Dane were great at the Commonwealth games, butArianne really stepped up at the world championships.
Brian and Dane, they're just a great team, and they're doing agreat job.
I've coached swimming for 34 years and have swum for 15 or 16years. I love the sport.
Cheryl Humphrey taught you to swim, and she could take overyour coaching spot at the tacit Lucia uni club.
I said I was almost finished with a physical education degree,but Cheryl got me in the pool and I got hooked.
I met all the people I've worked with along the way who havehelped me understand and learn a bit more.
There are more than one way to skin a cat in the Ivy league,and there are eight different kinds of cats in the Olympic final.
[00:26:14] I try and get my preparation to be within 0.09 ofthe other people.
I listen to other people's talk and then try to put together aprogram that feels comfortable to me.
To follow another coach blindly, one should understand whatthey're trying to do.
You've got to sell your ideas to your athletes or swimmers,they've got to believe you're doing the right things, and it takes time tobuild that belief.
If you have a good connection with your athlete, it makes yourjob easier and the athlete's job easier.
When you set the formula for success right, and take input andimprove, you are setting yourself up to be successful.
I think the majority of my work is intuitive and experiencebased, but I think you have to listen to the sports scientists in 2021.
Sport scientists are doing amazing things. They are usingvideo to help athletes with technique fatigue.
The most revolutionary piece of the training program has beenlooking at training data.
Coaches use videos to help their swimmers with their startsand turns.
Over the years, he's learned to understand his limitations,and work with experts in nutrition and strength training.
Emily is coaching 29 year old athletes to try and recover asquickly as possible.
There are some people who are expert in different areas, soit's important to talk to other people who are expert in those areas.
The key to getting your athletes better is to be constantlylooking for new ways to get them better.
If you've got to bring in experts, try their advice. It mightnot work, but it's worth a try.
Stephanie Rice was a visual learner, but she learned fromwatching her own techniques on a video screen.
Some people are more visual, and some people are auditory.Work with athletes in the areas that they can improve in.
Brilliant. Um, I really want to dig into the granular side ofthings, but I think a flattering compliment to you would be nice.
It's easy to become cynical about coaching because of all ofthe challenges you face. But, this podcast really helps to find the humanity incoaching.
"I love working with young people" is what keepscoach's job so pure.
I'm going to focus on the athletes, and every coach is goingto help the athletes.
A parent tried to make it about them, but the focus is alwayson the swimmers.
When a young swimmer makes a PB, a S uh, a final or a nationalteam, it really excites her.
Emily McCain came out of the Olympics great, and I got just asmuch joy from saying that.
Emily wanted to coach a person in the 200 backstroke, and Isaid 'no'.
'''You are expected to win a medal at the Olympics, but youwon't coach me,''' said the coach.
After 29 years of ice dancing, her intent was to retire in2020, but the Olympics were postponed.
She stayed up some nights and drove backward and forwards a bit,but was always determined to position herself as best as possible.
Emma's results were fantastic and she got a bronze medal inthe Olympics.
Emily's, Emily's results, were magnificent as well, and it wassuch a pleasure to see Emily do well.
To see Emily turn around after she didn't swim very well, wasjust the most pleasing thing for Michael.
[00:38:23] Okay, I'm going to finish up now, but thank you fortaking the time to do this interview.
'''As a way to end the interview, I'd like to ask a fewquestions about your future and about your fans.'''
The future excites me, I think it's nice that we're gettingcloser to the U.S. now.
I'd probably like for Australia to keep doing well. It's goodfor world swimming.
There will be a new group of young swimmers for the ParisOlympics and it's exciting to see Australia doing well again.
Don Talbot tried to get Australia the number one mantle, andin 2001 Australia won the gold at the Penn PACS world championships.
You never saw Don ever cry, but he had a tear in his eye whenhe saw the improvement in the Australian swim team. The rest of the world istaking notice.
I can see myself coaching through Paris, and then maybe takinga role helping other coaches or athletes.
The final words to leave with for all sorts of people are thatswimming's a sport, whether you're a coach, swimmer, or parent.
I thought I'd turn it off, but I can't see you. How do I turnit back on?
Michael bowl was asked for his last words. He said he wouldturn off his phone and get a new one.
The most important role of a parent is unconditional love andsupport, whether they're parents or swim coaches.
I set a high bar for coaches, and a lot of parents try to becoaches, and that can cause frustration.
Parents should understand what their role is as their child'scoach and help them to understand the swimming world.
You see athletes at major competitions, a positiveenvironment, and a good work ethic.
If you hear someone being negative, you should pull thatperson out in front of the group.
To improve, we need people to be supportive and hardworking.
Eddie Reese's mantra is to improve every time you try a worldrecord.
I don't mind having someone with a good attitude coming intothe group, but I don't like the hardest workers coming into the group.
I think it's important to protect a positive environment, tokeep people with a great attitude and a great work ethic.
I think that it is very important to have a group of peoplewho are on the same team as you are to have a positive, hardworking group.
Positive, hardworking people tend to drift away from the groupin the wintertime.
Mikey Missy made the world championships a hundred fly, final51, but he's a swimmer that I like having in the group.
Coaches like coaches who support their teammates and arewilling to push a little harder than they're asked.
'''A pool full of people like that''' is a brilliant answer tothe question of why people do what they do.