There are two things in this world that will save planet Earth:
Without going into too much of a history lesson, all major advancements from the beginning of time happened because of communication and collaboration.
The start of words by the Phoenicians then edited by the Greeks to create the first means of communication.
The construction of Machu Picchu by a group of Incans assembling together to create one of the world’s most picturesque natural wonders.
The start of women’s rights: a combination of efforts from Alice Paul, Susan B. Anthony, and a series of brutal hunger strikes.
The ending of World War II and the formation of allies to defeat Hitler.
The destruction of the Ring of Power and the combination of Frodo and Sam’s bond, as well as the fellowship’s support.
The Civil Rights movement that was sparked by Rosa Park’s ability to communicate her truth on a casual bus ride, which inspired others to do the same.
Of course I could nerd out and go on and on about history, but you get this profound point: anything epic in life takes an army.
Humans, to that end, have the limitless ability to communicate, collaborate, and work together to solve a problem.
Isn’t that why we’re here?
Sorry to get existential off the bat, but it’s true. We’re here to problem solve and uplift everyone’s experiences on this planet. And as much as we think we can do this alone, we can’t.
Behind every pioneer, innovator, and ignitor is an army of people providing their support.
So why am I diving this deep in my prose? Why am I getting spiritual? Why am I sounding like I just drank gluten-free-vegan-Matcha-tea-infused-with-enlightenment?
In the strength and conditioning industry, where inflated egos are rampant, communication and collaboration are few and far between. Too often, coaches are stagnant in their ways, and refuse to hear others’ opinions. While I get it’s important to state your training philosophy with conviction, it’s also important to be open to new ideas and methodologies. You know, so we can advance the industry.
After all, aren’t we here to provide our athletes with the best resources possible?
Coaches, start communicating and collaborating.
Let’s expound further:
1. Communication solves problems quicker.
This might sound obvious, but it amazes me how little people make their needs known nowadays. Communicate them, then maybe others will understand you better. Just a thought.
As an example, I see this in modern dating all the time. Now I’m no relationship expert, but I know a thing or two about transparency.
Oh, so you’re pissed your boyfriend doesn’t display affection enough? Tell him. He can’t read your mind.
Oh, so you don’t want your girlfriend to text you all the time? Tell her. Until then, she’ll be needy and clingy.
Oh, so you want your team parents to shut up on the sidelines? Tell them you have a no talking policy during games, in fact, be firm in your values at the start of the season.
So you want your athletes to show up early for a workout to get in their dynamic warm-up? Set expectations right off the bat.
So you’re an athlete and feel your coach is not catering to your personality? Let them know what motivates you, drives you, and breathes life into you. Any good coach will be receptive here and tweak accordingly.
Put simply, communication makes life easier, whether this is between friends, significant others, athletes, coaches, or parents, it is the secret sauce to getting things done.
2. Collaboration makes you better as a professional.
Funny enough, strength and conditioning and soccer coaches still operate under a competitive mindset, rather than a collaborative one.
More often than not, their ego creeps in and ruins the party. The majority of coaches have a scarce mindset, meaning they feel their aren’t enough athletes, victories, and puppies to go around.
This couldn’t be more far from the truth. What’s comical is there’s always going to be enough to go around, so living through a scarce mindset is pointless.
This reminds me of a conversation I had with a soccer performance coach a mile down the road from my facility. We were out for drinks and he introduced me to his friends as “competition.” I kindly replied, “I don’t see it that way. There are enough soccer players for all of us to help.”
*gulps his beer down awkwardly*
I mean, am I right? Or am I right?
Alas, the moment I started becoming close friends with other professionals in my niche was the moment several magical things happened:
– I learned from them.
– They learned from me.
– I referred to them.
– They referred to me.
– All of our athletes got better.
– We toasted over a glass of wine.
Isn’t this a win-win for everyone involved?
3. Communication and collaboration help your athletes.
Speaking of win-wins, athletes benefit tremendously when coaches communicate and collaborate.
Still, however, I see a tumultuous mess of ego battles between coaches and staff that hinder our athletes’ performance. Nothing is worse than an athletic trainer who refuses to hear the strength coach out, and doesn’t let an athlete lift heavier than five pounds. Nothing is worse than a team coach who programs the good-old-jog-laps around the field for conditioning without listening to the strength coach’s talk on energy systems. Nothing is worse than a strength coach being stuck in his ways of back squatting and fails to take into account the mechanics of his athletes.
With that said, I repeat: your ego sucks and it’s ruining everything.
Personally, the best staffs I’ve worked with have been the most communicative and collaborative ones. I’ve been lucky in my career, I guess. But also, I treat people with respect and allow them to do their thing. I’d go as far as to say I ask them why they’re doing what their doing so I can better understand and learn their expertise.
Recently, I asked a physical therapist if he wanted in on an athlete’s program design, since I needed his expertise on training proper gait pattern. His reaction was similar to fireworks exploding over DisneyWorld.
It was that spectacular.
Another time, I did freelance technical training for a U13 girls soccer team, and instead of coming in as a know-it-all, I wanted to involve the head coach by having him run my drills and chime in and add progressions when he wanted. Admittedly, when he stepped in with his own coaching points, I sat back, and was a cheerleader for him on the sidelines. In fact, I learned from him, too.
In all honesty, there’s nothing to lose in situations when you’re given the opportunity to communicate and collaborate. Well, except your toxic ego.
However, I’d argue, that’s the first thing you want to lose.
*steps off podium*