What is coaching?Most people think about programming at first. After all, doesn’t a coach just put together really cool workouts and meal plans for their clients?
That’s obviously true. But writing workouts alone doesn’t make you a coach, just like writing lesson plans doesn’t make you a qualified teacher.
Coaching is teaching.
That’s really what you are, coach. Good coaching is good teaching. You have to fully engage and commit to the people you work with. You should be curious as to why they’ve come to you in the first place.
Meet all of your athletes right where they stand. Empathize with their perspective and goals. Understand what really motivates them, because it varies widely across personality types. Do that and you can form an honest connection with each of your athletes. You’ll quickly get a feeling of what to say, and more importantly, what not to say.
Doug quoted a great line this episode. If you want to be a great coach, “Be a guide on the side, not a sage on the stage.” Writing workouts doesn’t make you a coach, nor does barking and shouting from the front of the gym. This is an aggressive style that’s actually insensitive and counter productive.
There’s a time and a place for pumping up the intensity, but if an athlete say’s they can’t do something, for example, then it does more harm than good to shout, “No, you can do it!”
A coach asks a lot of questions.
This is the greatest skill you could ever master, coach. The better you get at asking questions, the deeper you will connect with your athletes.
In this example, the right thing to say is simply, “Why do you think you can’t do it?” It could be nothing, but it might also be important. A hidden injury. An emotional stress. If you can always ask first then you will get to the truth a lot quicker.
Questions also allow the athlete to feel understood. This will strengthen your relationship, as opposed to building resentment when you simply dish WODs and shout generic motivational one-liners over and over.
Think about peeling back the onion.
There are many layers to goals. The outer parts are all superficial, right? Loose weight. Get strong, whatever. Your job as a coach is to peel back the onion layer by layer to get at the real motive.
I don’t want to sound shallow, but it needs to be said. We are all humans. That means the motives aren’t actually that hard to predict. Everyone wants to achieve a higher status in life. They want to be acknowledged. Sure, if you drill down deeply enough, in the end most people are just looking to get laid. That’s OK! There’s nothing more paleo than sex. Fill your belly with good food then get lucky, what else could you want, monkey man?
It’s ok to start right there because it’s a real genuine benefit of training. If you can get people stronger then they will be a whole lot more confident. They WILL definitely get laid more often, without a doubt. But now you have an opportunity to lead that person forward, to help them develop not just in the gym, but in life overall.
Coaching is relationship management.
Everyone is seeking status in their own unique way. Help them discover that for themselves. Once the athlete is stronger, healthier, and more confident, they can go out in the world and turn pro pursuing what they love.
And they’re going to fucking love you for leading them there, which is the ultimate reward. Sure, you might think you coach because you want to build strong, fit athletes. Maybe you want to be recognized as a great coach, whatever. But pull things back and you will find that building close relationships with athletes is what you’re really after.
These books will make an incredible impact on your coaching career. We couldn’t recommend them more:
- The art of explanation, by Lee LeFever
- The back of the napkin, by Dan Roam
- Made to stick, by Chip Heath
- Switch, by Chip Heath
- Start with why, by Simon Sinek
3 Key Questions for you to answer…Homework that could change your life.
We want you to becoming a better coach. So, here’s your homework. Answer the following questions honestly, then get to work improving your craft. Submit your answers in the comments below so we can see what you plan on doing to get better.
Here we go…
- What aspect of coaching have you been neglecting? What could you do better?
- What is keeping you from getting better? Peel your own onion. “Why do I think this is limiting me?”
- What resources can you utilize to up your game? Books, seminars, podcasts, blogs, travel. Tell us what you plan on doing to acquire more knowledge and build your expertise.
I hope you enjoy the episode. To all the coaches out there, much love and respect to you. Your job is far more important that you might realise.
- Do you know exactly how to program to become a better Weightlifter? We’ve got your covered. Check out this video.