1. First off...go into being a sherpa with the realization that in order to be a good one and support your athlete...you and your likes or dislikes are unimportant. The last thing your athlete needs to deal with on top of the stress and strains of race prep/race day is dealing with you in their decision cycle. So just be prepared to not get a lot sleep, food etc, etc, etc. You can be a diva later...but your athlete is the diva now.
2. Know your racer. Sit down and talk with your racer to see what type of support they'd like. Are they the kind that wants to be patted on the butt the whole time? Do they want you to be a drill sergeant to keep them on track/task? Something in between? A little discussion up front will save a lot of upset later. If you have the "I didn't know" or "why didn't you do this" conversation/argument after...you've BOTH failed.
3. Check lists, check lists, check lists!!! I'm not going to say you need to be all anal with spreadsheets but you need to know what time you racer needs to be where, you need to make sure your racer has all the gear they require (that you can never double check enough!), food they require (especially if there's special food requirements like gluten free or vegetarian) for race weekend and what's needed on race day.
|A happy Sherpa...I'm not really but my athlete always sees|
5. Things to tell your racer...focus on the task/event at hand: Bad swim? Forget and focus on the bike, comfortable grip on the handlebars- death grip on the bike expends energy, shrugged shoulders on the run fatigues them AND and makes them sore as the race goes on. Give your racers tips that are constructive and keeps their mind focused...instead of their mind wandering and settling on the suck that is a long course, bad weather or the race not going to plan.
6. Encourage, encourage, encourage...the ENTIRE time. Almost every racer starts to doubt and second guess themselves. Your job is to remind them that they've trained their butt of for this, they're ready and they're gonna do great. Look, unless your athlete is in dire straits and you're concerned about them medically when you see them on race day...its even MORE important to tell them they're doing great and they've got this as they race!
7. Relax and smile! Up to and ESPECIALLY on race day...for you AND your racer. Trust me, when you're racer sees you and your happy face they'll feel like they're doing well and on track to crushing their race!