The Alligator and the Birds

plover bird cleaning the teeth of an alligatorAt the end of practice the other night I asked the swimmers what they thought about our new dryland workout.

Instantly the 8th grade boy who is always lobbying for me to make things easier blurted out: “I liked it! A lot!”

I looked at him sideways, “Did you like it because it was easier? Or because it was a different kind of challenge?”

And he said, “Kinda both. We did things I am good at. I hate jump rope because I’m really bad at it.”

Coach K: I see…..that makes sense……what did you guys over here think?

Consensus was that they liked it, it was different, it was surprisingly hard. But only half the group seemed okay with the fact that it was hard! Seeing an opportunity, I went in for the kill….

Coach K: Awesome, good, I was hoping that was the case. I am excited about our new dryland plan! Here’s the thing – I think it would be really incredible and awesome if we could start to see things that are hard or out of our comfort zone as….um, maybe….an opportunity to add too the list of things we are good at. Let’s make that list as long as possible, right? Something’s not on the list? Let’s keep doing it, working on it until it’s on the list. Because look, the more athletic we can be on land, the better we can be at swimming.

HS Girl: Oh, I got it! It’s like a symbiotic relationship! This and dryland!

Coach K to self: Have I really not explained this?

8th grade Boy: Isn’t that where one thing kills the other thing? I don’t think we want–

HS Girl: No. That’s parasitic. Symbiotic is….like they both…..get something from each other.

8th Grade Girl: Symbiotic is like the buffalo and those birds.

8th Grade Boy: [frowning] Buffalo? I don’t know what you’re talking about. Oh, but I saw this show once about birds that clean alligator teeth? [looks at me] It’s like the alligator and the birds?

8th Grade & HS Girl: Yeah! It’s like the alligator and the birds!

Coach K: Ahhh….yeah, actually. That’s basically it. I don’t know which is which….let’s go with dryland is the alligator. Swimming is the birds. They help each other. You need to swim down before you go home.


This week when faced with something hard, here’s hoping you can re-frame it as an opportunity to add to your list of “things I’m good at”!

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