Updated: Apr 20, 2021
Based off the title alone you can probably see where I am going with this. As coaches we wear many hats. Depending on what we are a coach of could make you a mentor, leader, therapist, friend, etc. and the list goes on as to try to define a coaches role would be a daunting feat. I was once told that "coaches get us to do the things we already know we should be doing." This task can be one of the biggest roles a coach can help you accomplish.
Let's take a topic all of us are familiar with and love, food. Why do people meet with dietitians if they are trying to lose weight? Most of us know the recipe to make this happen as the biggest factor in the hierarchy of weight loss is kcal in vs kcal out. Now we could debate semantics about other factors but we know at the end of the day that if we we are not "using" as many calories as we are consuming, then we are going to store those tasty treats for another time as body fat. Now 2000 years ago this was a vital skill to have as meals might have been few and far between. Now a days and during this time of year avoiding weight gain can turn into a competitive sport. So why meet with the dietitian then if we already know what the main issue is? There could be a variety of issues but more likely than not the primary reason is that of accountability.
Accountability is truly a powerful word and it's meaning and weight gets thrown around a lot. In the college sector it is one of the things we are taught as strength coaches to teach and instill in our athletes. Training and the weight room can teach an individual so many lessons, one of which is that of accountability. Not just between the coach and the athlete but within ourselves and each other.
Think back to some point in your life in which you wanted to make a change, learn a new skill or improve in some area. What did you do? Where did you go? Who did you talk to? Chances are, especially this day and age, you Googled it or went to Youtube. Typed in your search, clicked enter and hoped that the magic would happen and your answer would appear. For arguments sake, let's say we want to learn how to become a master woodworker, just like Ron Swanson and build our own canoe. Google Ron Swanson if you aren't tracking this, he has a whole Pyramid of Success worth looking into. We find the video, buy the supplies we need, and we are off. However, we know through extensive research that there is a massive difference between working with Ron compared to reading or watching a video. Without our coach to put us on the right track and keep us in check with our goals, we could be aimlessly wandering our wood shop wondering where we went wrong.
Strength and conditioning is no different. So many people think they know how to workout or train for a goal. "This" worked out for so and so, "this" is what we have always done, etc. Even when armed with the right information, without someone holding them accountable for their actions, the chances of success is low at best. Enter the coach. Any time someone has trusted you to be their coach it is an awesome responsibility. Now based off their goals and the purpose of the relationship will determine that level of accountability and this is something that needs to be communicated openly between both parties to make sure they are on the same page. We are not going to get into the communication aspect of things as entire fields have been dedicated to this but accountability falls under this umbrella.
Find the right coach.
So, how do we find the type of coach we are looking for to get the help we want or need? Go back to the internet and do the research, fortunately this shouldn't take too long. You should be able to find what you are looking for with just a little bit of effort. If you are looking for a performance coach then check out their background, education or experience, who they have worked with, what have they done personally, etc. Different things matter to different people so check in with yourself as far as what you are looking for and what matters most. What ever it is, communicate with the coach and make clear what you want or at least have the conversation to learn more about what they view their role as being your coach is.
Even coaches need coaches, so check dat ego at the door. I have an athlete who is a coach herself. She's smart, knows her stuff and understands the process of what goes into training and why we do what we do. We were chatting the other day and it was basically taking that step back and looking at things she knows but we all need to be reminded on. She had a solid training session to finish out her week but not what she hoped for. It took reminding her of long week of travel, lack of sleep, and new training to look at the big picture. Only after getting her to take that step back was she able to see the carry over effect. This is nothing ground breaking. These are things she knows but any of us can get lost in the moment. One of my favorite sayings when I don't follow my own advice is "once you know the rules, then you can break them." Rarely does that work out well :)
For myself personally, I have always been a big fan of outsourcing my training. In addition to it being something I don't have worry about myself writing, it allows me the opportunity to learn from others and have a support system. I got into the sport of weightlifting simply to learn to be a better coach. I then fell in love with the sport while training for it. When it came to training and meets, it made a huge difference in that there was always a "we." I would reference that "we" are getting ready for this or "we" will probably open the meet with this weight. People thought I was out of my mind and could not understand who this we was, but to me, I knew that my coach was in it with me and invested in my success. The difference that makes is huge! One of the biggest things I try to instill in my athletes is that their success is my success. When I write for my athlete's they need to know that I am invested in everything they are doing and do not take their training for granted.
I have been very fortunate to have worked with some amazing coaches in my life. I am not just talking about those in the athletic or strength and conditioning world. Think of your friends and family. How much have they taught you or you taught them? Chances are your parents or siblings were the first coaches you had. Coaching you through more tasks and skills than we could even begin to count. What have you coached others through yourself? It could have been as simple as an assignment from school or as complex as leading battalion of Special Forces soldiers. We are all coaches in some way shape or form as we all have something to teach and learn from each other.
Having support matters.
No matter what the task or skill, even if we know what we need to do, having a support system and a coach increases the chances of success. At the end of the day, accomplishing those goals and the process is what makes them fun. We raise our bar and help bring up others around us. Whatever the goal or challenge, having a coach to guide, support and hold you accountable helps ensure that success. If there is something you want to do, learn or try, I promise there is someone out there to help you. Maybe you are that person that someone needs and there is something you can coach them with or through. At the end of the day, the world needs more coaches.