In the fast-paced and ever changing world of Sport where athlete’s live in the World of Wins, Loses, Kilos, Seconds and Centimetres the role of the Strength Coach has become a key component of every athlete’s sport preparation.
It is nearly impossible in this day and age to look on social media and not see some freak athlete performing an outrageous feat of Strength or Power under the watchful eye of their coach. Whether programmed or done to boost followers, like sex, these videos sell! However you view it the position of Strength Coach is now sexy, not Eva Mendez sexy, put pretty close.
Now, before you get too excited about jaw-dropping box jumps and heavy-ass squats (and the thought of Eva Mendez) here are my 4 principles to remember when working with an athlete.
Get to know the Athlete as a Person
This is paramount, not only with athletes, but with every client you work with. To be able to coach any individual affectively you must take the time to get to know them, understand who they are, their background and understand what drives them. This will allow you to relate to them better, motivate and cue them more appropriately and most importantly you will coach them more affectively resulting in superior results.
Do no harm
Apart from this actually being good advice for life it is vitally important when coaching an athlete. If for some reason the athlete gets injured during training they can’t compete in their sport. Now I’m not saying all injuries in the weight room can be avoided, they can’t, but we can certainly reduce the risk by programming exercise selection, volume and intensity appropriately for the athlete with ‘Do no harm” in mind.
Why do we need Buy-In I hear you ask? It’s very simple, so that we as coaches can get the very best out of the athlete (and any client in general for that matter).
As coaches we have to get those we train to buy into and believe in what we do, particularly in the early stages of the coaching relationship. If the athlete doesn’t believe in what we do or that what we’re programming for them we’ll fall at the first hurdle.
So what’s the best way for us create Buy-In? By telling the athlete why they are doing something either at the start of or during their session. Tell them why the power cleans they’re doing will help their performance, highlight why plyometric variation “X” or agility drill “Y” helps improve power or agility in position “Z” which is vital to improving their performance.
If the athlete knows the “why” they will be more focused and driven during the session as they understand the importance of what they are doing and how it translates to them improving their sporting performance. By providing the athlete with this knowledge we show them that everything we’re having them do has one sole purpose in mind, Improving their sporting performance!
Ok so my final point may seem ridiculous when you read it but it’s often over-looked or forgotten so it’s definitely one worth highlighting.
Make them better at their Sport
The role of a Strength Coach is to make the athlete better, turning them into a gym freak is pointless unless it turns them into a freak athlete at their sport. Whether you’re preparing them for the rigors of their sport, helping them move better and more efficiently or increasing the physical qualities that their sport demands the ultimate goal is to enhance the level at which the athlete can perform, anything apart from this just means you’re not getting the job done. Strength Coach Dan John said it best in my opinion, “The goal is to keep the goal the goal”. So when programming always ask yourself “will this help make them better at their sport?” If the answer is no then the athlete shouldn’t be doing it.
So if you want to be successful coaching your athletes always keep these 4 principles in mind. Get to know the athlete first and foremost and make them believe and buy-in to what you’re doing as a coach so that you can turn them into badass athletes who excel at their sport whilst keeping them injury free and able to compete.