Coaching Part 1

Coach, as defined by Merriam-Webster…

“A person who teaches and trains an athlete or performer.
“A person who teaches and trains members of a sports team and makes decisions about how the team plays during games.
“A private teacher who gives someone lessons in a particular subject.”

The role of the coach in the context of strength and conditioning or performance enhancement requires numerous skills to effectively deliver positive functional outcomes.

– Communications.
– Knowledge of Anatomy and Physiology.
– Technical Skill and Knowledge.
– Psychology.
– Physics.
– Applied Science

An effective coach sees the potential in each client/athlete and develops the systems, methods and long term training plans needed for the athlete to reach their full genetic potential.

The effective coach not only looks at the “here and now” but also “what is down the road”,sets realistic and measurable goals.

Constantly, the effective coach seeks one thing.

“How do I make this better?”

My inspirations for this blog came from two sources. One from the writings of an athlete blogger here on WordPress that has an especially tight relationship with her coach, and the other after reading a post on a social media site where a person (I can’t type the word trainer or coach to describe this person) stated that she didn’t she need be able to perform an exercise provided she “understood the exercise, knew how to coach it, spot it etc.” in order to teach it to a client.

My thoughts are “How can you really say you know something if you have never experienced it yourself?”

Learning an exercise on the academic level is one thing. There is substantial information from numerous quality sources on how to perform a given technique written by people far smarter than me.

YouTube DOES have some quality instructional videos and a sharp eyed person could pick out small details that others may miss. You just need to know where to look.

Knowing how to cue a movement could simply be a regurgitation of the same cues someone else gave.
A good coach knows when to be active and when to be passive.

Proper spotting greatly depends on the exercise.

It is my belief that in order to truly know something you must have spent time away from the books actually LEARNING and EXPERIENCING it.

What is the human body actually going through?

What mistakes have you made, and how did you fix them?

What accomplishments and frustrations did you run into?

Where do performance flaws typically show up and how to avoid them?

How can you coach the barbell squat without known what it feels like to have a very heavy thing on your back?

How can you honestly coach a pull-up if you’ve never performed them yourself?

This in now way means that to coach the deadlift I had to have achieved and an arbitrary number or could perform 100 Kettlebell snatches in 5 minutes to teach the KB Snatch. It does however mean that I have pushed my deadlift weight and worked high repetition snatches.

I know that the bottom position of the deadlift is a pretty uncomfortable place to be.

I know what it’s like to have your abs fatigue during high rep snatches or barbell squats.

I’ll give a personal pass to the walking wounded trainers that have medical reasons why they can’t perform a given exercise. Some people are looking for any excuse they can find to avoid a thing called “effort.”

I have great respect for the credentials and specializations that require live testing and coaching performance from their candidates. To the best of my knowledge the following organizations require the abilities to perform, plan, communicate, troubleshoot and instruct to earn a designation:

NASM Master Trainer. The NASM Master Trainer requires candidates to hold a minimum of three specializations in addition to their certified personal trainer credential and the candidates must pass a written exam and live peer review of their skills. Currently there are three particular Master Trainer tracks candidates can pursue depending on their specializations.

I could talk my way through a lot of this, but I would still have to be able to deliver the goods when it comes to the peer review. Me being the bastard that I am would ask the candidate to demonstrate and breakdown an exercise they want to give a client. If the candidate couldn’t do physically perform it (without medical justification ) I would ask why are they expecting someone else to be able to perform it?

Dragon Door RKC and StrongFirst Kettlebell Level 1-2 both include evaluations of the candidates ability to perform the core movements and skills in teaching techniques to others within a short timeframe. Strength standards are required with entry level and graduate performance minimums.

I could only talk so much about the kettlebell movement without having to actually perform the movement myself. There is no way I could show up and pass an RKC/SFG without preparation and physical literacy in the techniques.

USA Weightlifting National Coach requires video submission of your personal Snatch and Clean and Jerk technique in addition to producing athletes that have competed at the National level and a level 1 Sport Performance coach certification.

Starting Strength Certification. The coach must demonstrate proficiency in the performance and coaching of the basic barbell lifts (Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Press and Power clean) according to the Starting Strength model, pass a rigorous exam demonstrating theoretical knowledge of the physics and biology involved. I’ve read the pass rate for the SSC certification is around 10-20%.

I could memorize Starting Strength cover to cover but would still have to had spent a lot of time under the bar.


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