It was a whole new thing for me this week with the launch of my new podcast “Ski With Wade” and I couldn’t imagine a better way to get started than asking an old childhood buddy from Arkansas days to get the ball rolling. Together we introduced what will be my weekly format – with each episode featuring questions from waterski enthusiasts and pros. It was great to catch up with John and hear where life has taken him lately (new wife, new hobby and lots of great questions for me to ponder) and take a look back at what has shaped my immersion in waterskiing past, present and future. Here are the questions John posed:
- How did you get introduced to waterskiing and what got you hooked?
- Would you give up coaching to be a professional water-skier again?
- How long does it take to reach excellence and go from your baseline to your goal?
- What do you want to be when you grow up?
- What is the legacy you want to leave behind?
I want to focus a little more in depth on one of those questions and what it brought up in our conversation: Reaching your full potential. A lot of things go into the making of a waterskiing champion, but as a coach the top three I look at initially are: native talent/physical skills, level of fitness and coachability. That last one is perhaps the biggest predictor for success. Whether you’re trying to reach your potential playing the piano, mastering a new computer system or reaching the top academic or athletic ranks – there is one common predictor for success: Are you able to stay out of your own head? A kid might be a natural (which is one of the most exciting things a coach can uncover) but if his or her parent are fixated out of the gate on the making of an instant star, it’s not really serving anyone. The beauty of young people is that they haven’t been “adulted” yet. They are able to be in their body, rather than all balled up in their mind. Fortunately, they mostly learn to walk before their parents try to teach them how to! As we age (and this can be true in our professional and personal lives just as much as in our athletic pursuits) it’s super-easy to psychoanalyze and over-think. The result is predictable. In no time your train of thought goes off the rails. You’re all clammed up and your whole mind is shutting down. Now you’re becoming desperate. As a coach, that’s exactly what I fight all the time. It’s all about getting into a mindset that is simply about moving, being fully inside your movements. It’s a discipline that requires practice and patience no less than what’s required to learn a new move or take your competitive level up a notch. For me, that’s the heart of coachability. It’s the hardest thing: Can you get out of your head? If not, all the best coaching in the world won’t get you in the flow.
“The Inner Game of Tennis” was a hugely popular book by W. Timothy Gallwey when I was coming up in the 1970s. It became a classic guide to the mental side of peak sports performance. Basically, the theory went, “The player of the inner game comes to value the art of relaxed concentration above all other skills; he discovers a true basis for self-confidence; and he learns that the secret to winning any game lies in not trying too hard. He aims at the kind of spontaneous performance which occurs only when the mind is calm and seems at one with the body.”
Regardless of age, level of talent or experience, it’s incredibly gratifying when I can get the people I coach into that state, where they’re one with their skis, the water, the moment in time. No fear and or mental noise taking you off-balance. Suddenly you’re balanced on your skis, you’re flying along and your vision is clear. I guess it’s a feat also sometimes described as being “in the zone” and there is nothing better!
Wade Cox’s legendary professional ski career includes multiple Pro titles and tours. Throughout the 1990’s he was on top as the HO Skis and Pro Tour poster boy. More recently he is spreading his waterski knowledge as a coach, via SkiWithWade tours and through his website and podcast, “Ski With Wade.”
Links for Resources/Topics:
DFW WaterSki and Wakeboard School: DFW WaterSki and Wakeboard School
Ski Lakes of Princeton, Texas: http://princetonlakespoa.com
Waterski Hall of Fame: Waterski Hall of Fame
Links for merchandise, schedules, and more about Wade:
SkiWithWade – Ho Sports Shop
- Welcome to Ski With Wade – an intro to Wade’s new podcast and what it’s all about, including his website, merchandise and vision for the program.
- Big Dave Harvey from Australia and the evolution of “Five Questions.”
- How Wade got introduced to water skiing.
- Why Wade doesn’t miss water skiing and is very happy to coach others instead.
- Patience and what it takes to make strides with your water skiing.
- What Wade wants to be when he grows up!
- John encourages Wade to consider the legacy that will define him.
- John and Wade talk about their mutual passion for music both as a refuge and comforting diversion.