Full disclosure: Getting into arguments over training methodology doesn’t do it for me anymore.
In fact, I stopped 7 years ago.
Perhaps you get a dopamine hit when you prove someone on Twitter that your ways are better. Perhaps you feel warm and fuzzy when you argue that using straps on a barbell is best. Perhaps you feel a rush of serotonin to your brain when you make another coach believe your power clean method is best.
But social media disagreements aside, have you thought about why you coach in the first place?
If you think deeply about why you’re in this industry, it’s not to prove other coaches wrong on social media, it’s not to argue on Twitter, nor is it to showcase that your theories are the best out there.
You got into this industry to serve your athletes.
What’s funny is, the more I’m immersed in my career as a soccer performance coach, the more I realize it’s more than the training methodology. And the more I’m observing all of the shenanigans on Twitter, the more I want to sign off, go down the street to get a medium rare burger, and enjoy the rest of my day.
Sure, discussion is good for us. Sure, disagreeing can propel us to have a new breakthrough. Sure, challenging each other helps us to improve our crafts. And sure, it’s great to connect with other coaches.
But, what are we doing to deliver an exceptional experience to our athletes? Put simply, what are we doing to establish trusting and authentic relationships? What are we doing to empower them to be their best selves off the field, too?
Admittedly, I’m tired of the training method arguments. Rather, I want to hear coaches discussing creative ideas on how they develop relationships with their athletes.
How are you going above and beyond to care for them?
How are you ensuring they buy into your methods in the first place?
How are you getting them on a consistent program?
How are you teaching them life lessons to tackle adversity?
How are you comforting a college girl who comes into your facility in tears and who is having a mental breakdown?
Look: I don’t care if you can summarize Tim Gabbett’s research studies on load monitoring and acute-to-chronic ratios. I don’t care if you can tell me the hip adductor muscles. I don’t care if you use conjugate, linear, or undulating periodization. And I don’t care if you deadlift with a barbell of hex bar.
What I do care about is how you’re being a coach to these kids, namely, how you’re serving them as the friend, teacher, and role model.
It’s important to wear all of the hats.
The coach hat.
The active listener hat.
The role model hat.
The psychologist hat.
With that said, it should be a default you know exercise physiology, as well as the x’s and o’s of performance training. Those should be a given.
And if you think you’re a special snowflake because you know the rotator cuff muscles, speak in science jargon to your athletes, and can write a paper on tactical periodization, well, we all can. You’re not that cool.
Again, any coach can make an athlete sweat. But not every coach can deliver an energizing experience.
Especially an experience that makes them want to strength train and stay healthy for a lifetime.
So let me ask you this: what are you doing to 1) build trust 2) foster authentic connections and 3) inspire your athletes to move when their sports career ends?
Looking back to my own experience with my strength coach when I was a middle and high school athlete, I remember the times in the weight room and on the pitch being the best times of my athletic career. The times we learned how to squat, deadlift, plank, sprint. The times we ran up hills, played tug-of-war, pushed trucks, and climbed trees.
Now, fast forward to today, and I’m fitter, confident, more badass than ever. And I’m a 29-year-old woman retired from soccer.
But I owe it to my strength coach as a young athlete. I guess you can say the healthy, empowering habit of consistent training was instilled in me at a young age, and now permeates into my life as a grown woman.
Yes, training methodology.
Yes, exercise technique.
Yes, tactical formation theory.
But more so, yes, lifetime impact.
It’s up to coaches to establish this. End of story.
Resource for Coaches
This is the BEST book I’ve read on impacting athletes beyond teaching training methods and game tactics. If you’re a coach, this is a must-read if you want to take your relationship building to the next level.