Lately, I’ve been meeting a lot with our interns on programming and planning of training sessions. It’s something I truly enjoy and often go “off the script” when the opportunity presents itself. I get caught up in all the wow’s and woah’s of sets & reps, percentages, and sequencing of movements. To most interns, this is the meat and potatoes of coaching and program writing and they want to soak up as much as possible, because to them, this is game changing. This is what separates coaches that are hired verse those that get fired, right?
Not so much. Instead of focusing on what I call the “aftermarket products” of coaching like relative intensities, complex training and French contrast methods, I now want to prioritize the very foundation of coaching first; relationships. After a short number of years going from organization to organization as I advanced my career, there was always one absolute, one never changing pillar of performance for success; relationships. It didn’t matter if I was in the best weight room in the conference, had the smallest budget or the freshest “gear” from the equipment manager, everything came down to relationships and managing the process of building and maintaining them.
So before you ask yourself if the latest bar from EliteFts will make a difference in your next cycle (which it actually might) or if you should invest in the newest tracking software, make sure you ask yourself the following four questions from InsideOut Coaching and take the time to evaluate your role in a career that can bring so much change to the world.
WHY DO YOU COACH?
Is it because of the glitz and glamor of working with high level or professional athletes? Is it the excitement of being on the sideline of the nationally televised game of the week? Or maybe the newest Nike gear or access to amazing facilities and supplements?
Do you ever lose sight of exactly why you do, what you do? I know I have. When I became a head coach, I was so engrossed in administration, building a staff and establishing a new culture, that I forgot the very premise of why I entered this field; to make a difference in the lives of my athletes. And to me, that is through COACHING.
Now, I’m not here to tell you to get all mushy, break out the Spotify Coffee House mix and talk about your feelings with your athletes. But, I am encouraging you to take some serious time to think about why you’re in a career that requires so much. Sacrificing time with family, having the possibility of being fired due to the poor performance of 18-23 year olds and adjusting your personal and professional life around team meetings, discretionary periods and training camps. The greatest programs and coaches are not dictated by excel spreadsheets and flow-charts. Just watch how coaches and athletes interact with each other. That should be enough.
What is the driving force behind your coaching? Why do you go to bed late and get up early every morning? What is the “ALL SPARK” in your life?
WHY DO YOU COACH THE WAY YOU DO?
Have you ever thought about why you handle certain situations the way you do? If an athlete screws up, do you mother-F them in front of everyone and make them feel inferior to you and his/her teammates? Do you pace up and down the weight room shouting and screaming because that’s what your coach did? Do you dis-engage from your athlete, talk through the side of your mouth and change your voice when you address the group? Or are you YOURSELF?
For many of us, we got into coaching because someone impacted us. Someone took the time out of his/her life and imprinted his/her values onto us. Some experiences were bad and forced us to crusade against the world and try to change what went wrong thought our peewee and teenage years. For others, it was because someone made a difference. We felt connected. We felt a part of something. Essentially, we felt that somebody really understood us as people and helped us through tough times.
I challenge you to ask yourself why you do something a certain way and see if you can find the root of your behaviors, personality and/or style. If there is anything I’ve learned over my short career, it’s that you cannot be someone else! Your athletes will give their very best once you can do the same!
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO BE COACHED BY YOU?
This is truly an eye opener. Have you ever felt that no matter what you say to an athlete, he/she simply doesn’t get it? I mean, how can you not understand to bend the knees, set the hips back and do an RDL. You just do it! What’s the problem? You get so frustrated with that athlete that you write them off and move on.
Or you’ve got a walk-on doing everything he can to make the team and prove himself but because he’s not part of your “scholarship group”, you throw him to your interns or GA’s and let them deal with him.
Like many relationships in life, success really comes down to the delivery of your message. How many times have we heard “it’s not what you said, it’s how you said it”? Just because we practice our craft anywhere between 6-12 hours per day does not mean our athletes, who see us anywhere from 2-8 hours PER WEEK, understand and register what we’re trying to teach them. Don’t assume they get it!
The next time you find yourself in a situation that requires more patience than usual, try to put yourself in their shoes.
- Are you explaining it simply, with passion and purpose?
- Are you communicating your expectations as clear as possible?
- Are you showing visual or audible frustration in front of them?
Side note: Make sure you check out Switch by the Heath brothers if you’re having a hard time connecting with athletes.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE AND MEASURE SUCCESS?
Lastly, how do you know if what you’re doing is working?
Is it defined by outweighing the W’s > L’s?
Is it your paycheck?
John Wooden defined success by having peace of mind, which is a direct result of the self-satisfaction in knowing that you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.
Joe Ehrmann defines success as the content of people’s character, leadership and contribution to the betterment of their families, their communities and the world around them. He recommends waiting 20 years and assessing the quality of the lives of the people you coached.
Personally, I think it’s a combination of both. Success is knowing you’ve done everything you could to teach your athletes that the lessons they learn in training with you are really lessons in life. What they do and how they do it in training will have a direct carryover to when they begin employment, start a family and advance their lives.
We all want higher power outputs, bigger 1RMs and a smaller rate of injury, but do we remember the little things during the process of chasing those statistics?
In my next post, I’ll be addressing two distinctive models of coaching, transformation and transactional, and I will explore the inner workings of each and their roles in today’s world. Hope you can check it out.