Athlete Approved partner Mike Bottom was interviewed on the 50th episode of The Social Kick Podcast.
The Social Kick Podcast is a swimming podcast hosted by Luke Paddington, Dr. John Mullen, Bryan Lundquist and Justin Huynh. “They are swimmers, who talk to other swimmers about swimming, and some other things.” This podcast has a casual and fun vibe. It not only covers all things swimming, but also real world topics.
Coach Mike Bottom is the current Head Coach at The University of Michigan (“Go Blue”). He has been on the coaching staff at Auburn University (“War Eagle”), The University of Southern California (“Fight On”), The University of California Berkeley (“Go Bears”), and has served on several Olympic coaching staffs.
Journey as an Athlete to Coach
The crew discusses Mike’s campaign to qualify for the 1980 Olympics. Mike made the team, but was unable to compete due to the U.S. Olympic boycott. He now uses this as motivation to help others make it to the Olympics. Mike’s goal is to put more swimmers on Olympic teams than were not able to go in 1980. In 2016, he accomplished that.
While times have changed since 1980, swimmers still need to support themselves. Mike talks about how he would make sandwiches back when he would compete to get by financially. Athletes today have other options like Athlete Approved. We use our platform to help support Olympic hopefuls. Mike is featured in several articles.
The Art of War Mentality and Mental Heath
The podcast talks about how some athletes approach their sport with The Art of War mentality. That means they will go into competition ready to go to war. They have their “backs against the wall”, willing to do anything to succeed.
Mike does not believe this type of do-or-die mentality develops athletes into true champions. Instead, athletes should use sport as a mechanism to learn how to improve themselves. If you do not perform well, it does not mean you are not validated as a person. He helps athletes understand that swimming can be used as a tool to get to the next step in life.
“You do well in athletics because you developed as a person. As a coach, you want athletes to perform so they buy in. Then you can help them understand they have incredible potential to be a champion of the world.”
Developing the Coach to Athlete Connection
Mike empowers his swimmers to figure things out themselves. In this Social Kick Podcast episode, they discuss some interesting stories highlighting this concept.
For example, there is a story about how George Bovell figured out that skimming on top of the water was the quickest way to get across the diving well in a friendly competition. George Bovell is known to have one of the fastest starts of all time.
Swimmers who were coached by Mike discuss the importance of developing a strong coach to athlete connection. They continually speak of his ability to help them both in and out of the water and his creation of innovative training plans.
Sprint legends Gary Hall Jr, Duje Draganja, Nathan Adrian, and Mike Cavic give big credit to Mike for their Olympic success. They talk about his ability to think outside of the box, particularly on the psychological side of coaching.
The Original Social Kick
Mike jokes with Luke, John, Bryan, and Justin that he started the “social kick” (kicking while socializing at swim practice). “It is really hard to get sprinters in the water. Social kick was used to start workout and it worked.”
Social kick is used by teams worldwide… and it is also the name of an amazing podcast.