Over-programming and under committing

Week 6 –


Ontario coaches Rick Dickey (R) and Victor Wiltmann at the Canada Winter Games (2015)


As the coach of a thriving club, it looks like Rick Dickey is doing everything right. New kids and their families are joining the program, the team is producing more fast skiers, and the atmosphere of the group is amazing.

But there’s a problem, one that doesn’t present itself at a glance. Commitment.

I was taken aback when Rick said this is one of the biggest struggles he has with high-school aged athletes. They’re not committed? It looks like they are; they come to practice, they have a training program, do workouts on their own, and some even keep nice logs of it (👍🏽)… They enjoy skiing, and they’re getting faster. What gives?

As Rick explained, I found myself agreeing more and more –

These kids are over-programmed, and it’s hindering their progress as skiers. Too many of these teenage athletes are splitting their energy and commitment between multiple sports and activities – which (as part of an even bigger picture) may be why we, as a nation, are not producing competitive international level skiers.

Before anyone starts lighting things on fire – he isn’t saying that kids should become single-sport athletes earlier… It’s a suggestion that if we want to increase the likelihood of making it to the highest level, then athletes need to focus on one sport earlier.

Prioritize what they truly want to excel at. And then enjoy other things on the side to supplement and create a well-rounded lifestyle.

Identify the priority – what really matters, what do you really want to be great at? Specializing is not the evil mainstream culture makes it out to be. In a world where anyone can appear to be everything and anything, being devoted to a single pursuit is rare and difficult…

Super interesting idea and always great perspective talking to Rick. I have nothing but respect and gratitude for all he has done in the sport and for athletes.


Rick’s point on over-programming and splitting commitment also reminded me of this post: “Hell Yes!“. It’s in the same vein, a nice short read.

No workout this week… I think this idea just needs to sink in. Very unpolished piece, which I apologize for. Sort of frantic and busy times as of late.

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