British Columbia

Enthusiasm and love of sport needed to coach amateur athletes says former Olympian

Former elite rower Jason Dorland believes coaches need to change their mindset to keep kids in sports

for CBC News

May 27, 2017

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Former Olympian Jason Dorland offers hope for organized sport  7:40

Former Olympic rower, now coach and author, Jason Dorland believes the very future of sport in our country is at stake unless we make big changes around involving youth.

"Sporting organizations in our country really need to ask some hard questions and ask who is this about?" he told Our Vancouver guest host Jason D'Souza.

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"Is it about the kids? Or is it about the parents and coaches?"

Dorland says 70 percent of kids in organized sport quit by the age of 13 because of the obsession on winning, often pushed on young athletes by adults.

"The crazy irony in this is that if by diminishing the pool of athletes because we are obsessed with winning is that we are ultimately going to reduce the pool of athletes. The number of high performance athletes that come out of those leagues are going to be less," said Dorland.

Seoul searching

Dorland had a crushing defeat in 1988. His national rowing team was touted as the sure winners at the Seoul Olympics but the boat came in last in the final despite the team's desire to "crush" their opponents.

"Things got really ugly and I retired from the sport and went through a really rough period," he reflected.

Dorland says it took him years to get through the ordeal and find a way to love sport again.

He couldn't imagine a competition without using anger as a motivator until he saw his girlfriend Robyn Meagher run 3000 metre races.

Mindset coaching

He says she focused on achieving personal best times, not on where she finished.

Mindset coaching is now what Dorland specializes in — bringing out the best performance from a place of enthusiasm and love for the sport.

He outlines the method in his latest book called "Pulling Together: A coaches journey to Uncover the Mindset of True Potential".

He wants coaches to drop the anger and come from positive place to guide athletes.

"We have to get over this macho rhetoric about retribution and getting even and destroying the competition," he said.

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