Show Up Early, Not On Time

Show Up Early, Not On Time 

“If you are early, you are on time. If you are on time, you are late. If you are late, you are unacceptable.” 

In other words, practice starts at 3 PM? Don’t be running in the door at 3 PM. Be ready to go before 3 PM even strikes. 

This thought process was something I had a coach instill in me way back when, and now I say this to all my athletes. But why are coaches such sticklers for showing up early?

  1. You get yourself in the right headspace 
  2. You show you value other people’s time
  3. You show you can be reliable and worth counting on 

Get yourself in the right headspace

If you are even a few minutes early, you can get your head right however you like. For some, that could be talking with teammates and just getting to spend time with friends. Others might want to lock in and make sure they have all their gear, water, and essentials organized. 

Whatever you choose to do, when practice starts, you are ready. 

But where is your head at if you are there right as practice starts? Or even worse, you are late? You are in a frantic panic trying to get your stuff together, scrambling to fall in with everyone else. You probably missed the first few instructions and are now playing catch up. 

When practice started, you were not ready. Now you are paying the consequences. You may have been there, but you were not mentally in the right headspace. 

Show others you value their time

Even if you think you can rush in at the last minute and still be in the right headspace, think about what your actions are saying to those around you. 

Does what you do let people know you value their time? Or does what you do, let people know that you think your time is worth more than theirs? 

When you show up early, you are letting your coach know that this practice is important to you. You have made it a priority to be there and be ready. Even when you have other commitments in your busy schedule, you have made it a point to get there when you need to. 

If you show up late, you are letting your coach know that those other things were more important. 

‘My time needs to be spent elsewhere, and I am okay to leave you waiting.’

And having to show up on time, all the time, might seem impossible. It is. 

But have you set yourself up as the person who almost always shows up on time? Because then you have a case for yourself when you slip up from time to time. 

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Be Reliable – Build Your Case 

Sometimes other things are going to come up. That is okay; that is life. Life happens, and you might have a test, a meeting, a doctor’s appointment, or family commitment that you absolutely have to be at.  

If you have been someone that your coach can consistently rely on, if and when you are not perfect and show up late, they will be far more understanding. 

Every time you show up early, you are putting in another deposit to let those around you know that you can be relied on. 

Because you have set yourself up as someone reliable, a slip up every so often is far more accepted. 

So What Is The Point?

And isn’t that what we all look for as players, coaches and as people: someone we can rely on. 

And while there are plenty of reasons coaches need to rely on their athletes, this is a life skill that you will carry with you far past your athletic career. 

It could be your first job interview. It could be your first date. It could be a really important meeting. 

When you show up early, you are in the right headspace, you signal to others you respect and care about their time, and that you can be relied on. 

So when you think Coach is a stickler for time, it’s because he or she cares about you. They want you to succeed not only on your team but in life. If you learn one thing, being early can set you up for everything else that comes after. 

And even when you think no one is noticing, at some point, they will, and it will carry you farther than you ever expected. 

Doug Curtin, Swim Coach

Meet The Author: Doug Curtin 

  • Head Coach – Belmont High School Girls Varsity Swimming
  • Head Coach – Wellesley High School Boys Varsity Swimming
  • Host of PLT4M Chalk Talk 

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