Coehoorn's Corner: Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare

COURTESY: Medicine Hat News

I want to say happy Thanksgiving from everyone at the Alberta Sport Development Centre - Southeast!

I am writing this article from Victoria, B.C. where it is about 15C and rather sunny. So with the theme of stating what we are thankful for, I would say that I am thankful for the warmer weather and the lack of snow out here. Sorry to rub it in to the readers in snowy Medicine Hat.

Now on to the theme of the article; I want to talk about the tortoise and the hare today.

Most of you will know this old children’s story; the tortoise and the hare decide to have a race. As they get started the hare blasts off at a fast pace, while the tortoise starts off at well… a tortoise pace. The hare gets way ahead and decides to take a nap. Meanwhile, the tortoise surpasses the hare to win the race.

What is the moral of the story? Slow and steady wins the race.

This is a principle that I have tried to incorporate into all that I do. We live in a world where instant gratification is the desire for most people. Rarely though, especially in the field of sport, does this desire for instant gratification get us very far.

Most great athletes will tell you about how many times they have fallen and how many times they have had to work hard to get to where they are. Getting to an elite level in sport does not come overnight. It is the day-in and day-out struggle and the willingness to get up each and every day and push through the pain and the heartache which makes a great athlete.

I have coached many athletes in the sport of Olympic weightlifting, which is a highly technical sport. I would say that 80 per cent of the athletes that have come through my door have left because it is too hard. They wanted to start in the sport and immediately reach a high level with their strength and technique. They are very discouraged when I tell them that it will take 10 years to get where they want to be.

At the Alberta Sport Development Centre — Southeast, we are very honest with our athletes that it takes a long time to become a great athlete. The first thing athletes do in our program is get their functional movement analyzed. We take a look at their squat, push-up and plank form, and we develop a plan to clean up their form in order to avoid injury and ensure they will get the most out of the work that they put in.

This is in a lot of cases contrary to what the athletes expect. They, in some cases, expect us to dive right in and work on making them strong right away. This is the “hare” approach. They are usually disappointed when they cannot start pumping the weights right away. The athletes who don’t buy into the slow and steady wins the race approach will not succeed.

So, if I can give any advice to emerging athletes out there who are struggling because they are not getting where they want to be at a pace that might seem ideal, slow down and trust the process that is necessary for you to reach your ultimate potential.

Cory Coehoorn is the coordinator of the Alberta Sport Development Centre — Southeast and he would love to hear from you and chat with you about the ASDC-SE programs and services. He can be reached via email at and via phone at 403-504-3547.