What It Means To Go Pro

If you’re a keen amateur golfer you will hit a few of your shots extremely well during a round, perhaps as well as Tiger Woods in the same situation. A friend of mine tells me that once or twice in a tennis match she smashes a forearm down the line just as well as Serena Williams. And I know quite a few age group triathletes who would come out of the water with Chrissie Wellington.

In whatever field you would like to make your living you’re probably already very good in one or two areas. Perhaps you know exactly how to treat an Achilles injury or understand how to deal with gluten intolerance. As a swim coach you can correct a crossover in someone’s stroke or in the kitchen you cook an amazing roast.

But given any swimmer, any injury, any ingredients, any event, any illness, any bunker lie – would you do a great job every single time? A true pro does.

Steven Pressfield wrote in his excellent book Turning Pro how the amateur clings to what they know and considers that knowledge makes them an expert. The professional looks beyond their knowledge towards their capability to do a great job for any person any time.

Yes, experience helps broaden your skills but this is as much about a mindset as anything. Pride in your ability to do a great job for people 100% of the time – and being painfully aware of any holes in that ability – are at the very core of what it means to be a pro.



  1. Hi Adam
    I’m wondering at what point did you feel you ‘turned Pro’. Was it a concious switch of sorts or did it just happen over a period of time?

  2. Hi Gavin, I went to Perth at the end of 2007 as an amateur who was good at some things, which I thought made me a great coach already! When I started watching Paul at work I realised how little I knew and how much more there was to learn – I was like a sponge at that point just trying to soak up as much as possible.

    My belief is that for most people it doesn’t happen gradually, there is definitely a decision point when you decide to tackle all the areas that aren’t fun and learn the areas of the craft that don’t naturally appeal to you. I think it’s like a loss of innocence in a way.

    For me it was still all for fun until a little while later when we officially went into business together, that for me was the moment I think.

    What’s the background to your question – going through something similar?

    Have great christmas mate!


    • Hi Adam

      Yes, definately going through that stage at the moment. I made a fairly concious decision not long after the SS course in Cardiff. I made great leaps forwards, but things have stalled over the past few months due to various reasons. This ‘area’ is very much at the forefront of my thoughts at the moment and I’m getting frustrated because of elements out of my control (lack of time being a major one!).
      The good thing is that i’m aware of it and know what I need to do (to an extent). It’s just a case of making it happen now. Looks like 2013 is going to be an interesting year!
      Hope you had a good Christmas too, and have a Happy New Year!

      • Hi Gavin, yes there’s definitely some luck and timing to it! Stay patient and keep working on your skills and experience as and when you can – the chance will come!

        Yes 2013 should be an awesome year if all goes to plan!