The 3 Things that Made me a Better Coach

The 3 Things that Made me a Better Coach
I had a nice conversation with Ryan Deatrick yesterday. Ryan is the assistant strength & conditioning coaches at The University of South Dakota under Jevon Bowman who I have the utmost respect for. Ryan and I were talking and he asked me a questions I really haven't thought about. We asked me the biggest lessons I learned during my career as strength coach and what made me a good coach. I don;t know if I was a good coach or not, but I thought about positive qualities I had. I fumbled around my words a while throwing phrases like "being loyal" and "being accountable". Once my brain got into Bullet Point Mode, I started to put some things together. 3 categories to be exact.

Those 3 concepts were to be more humble, less emotional, and more adaptable.

Be More Humble
When I first started coaching, I thought I knew everything. I read Powerlifting USA and, Testosterone Nation, and then eventually And becasue I read everything that Dave, Louie, Hatfield, Bill Star, Poliquin, Staley, you name him, wrote, I was a smarter strength coach than anyone on our football staff.

Now back then, there wasn't any social media that I could prove my intellectual coaching dominance. I had no platform to proclaim my expertise in training even though I was a GA and assisted with football strength & conditioning in the off-season. Didn't matter, my theoretical knowledge trumped any experienced strength coach's ideas. I read books, mother fucker!

Not sure when it happened. Probably gradually, but I started to realize the more I learned about the profession, the less I knew. The smarter and more experiences person I talked to, the more I realized how far I had to go. I started to meet some of my mentors in person and there was always way much more that made them who they were than just their articles. Having conversations with Dave, Louie, Jim, House, Chris Doyle, etc. made me understand there was much more to coaching that regurgitating information.

I really got a big bite of humble pie anytime someone asked me "Why". People would ask me why I did a certain drill or why I was so adamant about a certain lift and depending on how I answered, I would know right then how emotionally attached, knowledgeable, or passionate I was about that lift. I would get questions like, "how does the myosin and actin react differently when performing Olympic lifts?' or, "how does that transfer on the field?" The more questions I couldn't answer and the more answers I couldn't back up; the more I knew I had to learn.

Knowing the what your principles are and the more entrenched they are allows the strongest opinions.

Be Less Emotional
During a podcast, Charlie Weingroff, I heard him say something very interesting that pretty much sums up the state of the profession.

"People are emotionally attached to their methodologies."

That is what makes some of the best coaches have some of the best training methods. Coaches that have spent years developing their system through trail and error, anecdotal evidence, and learning the hard way.

Coaches that have put their hearts and soul into their training methodology have the right to be. Weingroff is not saying there is anything wrong with it, but too many coaches get upset when someone trains differently than they do. This is ludicrous. Really dumb.

Think about it. How many football coaches really get upset when a team runs a different offense or defense than them. No coach in any sport gets upset that not everyone in their conference runs the same system as they do. Yet in strength & conditioning, we get mad when other coaches train differently than we do. And by chance they have similar components in their training, we get angry if they don't do it as well as we do.

Let me get this straight. You are mad because your rival doesn't do the same exercise as you do? Or better yet, they do the same exercises but not as good as you do and you are still upset?

I get it, most people who train may not necessarily know the difference so they may choose a another trainer over you not even knowing they are inadequate. Frustrating yes but it is out of your control. Do the best job you know how to do.

Once I stopped worrying what other people were doing and how other coaches training their athletes, I felt like I was free. I asked my self why I would care that someone does or doesn't do certain exercises. I used to get so upset with the HIT Jedis because they weren't doing snatches or 3 rep maxes on anything. Why was I so offended? Then I went and worked for 3 of them and started to realize the similarities between all training systems. If you want to circuits for time, or body weight exercises, I don't care. If you want to crush your athletes, I don't care (unless it;s one of mine. Why did I care in the first place. Most athletes or clients don't know any more that what they are exposed to. If someone joins a CrossFit gym and the only other reference they have to training is a creepy health club or their shitty high school gym class; of course they are going to think their gym is the best gym on earth and believe in what they are doing. They have nothing else to compare to. If I am a lifter and I have never squatted out of a monolift because I have never been to a gym or meet that has one, then of course I won't see the point of it. No need to get emotionally wrecked because it's not the way you train in either case.

Be More Adaptable
I think one thing I would pride myself on and what most young coaches need to be is that I have been adaptable. I wholeheartedly agree that the best coaches are the ones that can excel in any situation. This is especially important for young assistants.

Here's an example. You may be interning for a coach who doesn't believe in Olympic Lifting. You buy in and realize you can develop those same qualities performing other exercise. All good, right?

Now you get hired as a GA at another school and the head coach is heavy into the Olympic lifts and all of the athletes do them.

You have a few choices:

  1. Turn down the job because it doesn't fit your philosophy. Well, you're dumb.
  2. Try explaining to the head coach who just hired you (or during the interview) that Olympic lifts are not necessary. Go one step further and tell him his athletes don't do them correctly anyway.
  3. Learn the Olympic lifts and how to implement them in your program.

I would go with 3. That way you still have a job. Unless your exhaustive intern experience qualifies you to change an entire program philosophy.

Here are a few other examples not so theoretical:

When Bobby Ross was hired at Army, he told the existing strength staff (predominately with HIT backgrounds) that the football team would perform cleans. Period. Whether he was right or wrong or his reasoning made sense, once hired I was in charge of teaching cadets how to perform cleans. Most progressions with freshman happens while they were wearing boots and wearing fatigues.

I had an Olympic lifting background but my weight room (separate from the main one) at West Point had no bumpers, Olympic bars, or platforms. Didn't matter how much I wanted my athletes to clean and snatch. It wasn't safe for the athletes. I learned very quickly to find other ways to develop explosive strength.

Our Women's soccer coach at Denison did not want her athletes doing box jumps. Regardless if there were soft boxes or not. I reasoned with here but out of respect for her, I didn't push it. We got the same training effect from in-place jumps, hopes, bounds, etc.

If you are that married to one philosophy or worse yet, one exercise, you should open your own facility so you call all the shots.

If a coach told me I couldn't have the athletes squat with a bar on their back, it would bother me, I 'll front squat, goblet squat, and pull heavy

If a coach told me I couldn't do Olympic lifts, I'd have them throw, swing and jump

If I didn't have bands and chains in my weight room and couldn't buy any, I would cry. And then get over it and find another way.

Your methodology should not be based on specific exercises. Base it off environment, work, and movements.

Dynamic Effort ( Got to train with my good friend Jordan Hougton on his birthday tonight. Good times.

Power Snatch
60kg for 5 doubles
Need to be more consistent with these and do a variation or complex every Thursday. Nice to have a set of eyes like Jordan's helping with technique

DE Bench Press w/ Chains
5 triples with 135 +120 of chains w/ 45 sec RI
First time doing these in a while. I have always been taught to let the ball "free-fall" before pressing. Pec felt crappy today. Also my short ROM is even shorter.

Supersetted with...

Neutral Grip Pull-ups
5 Doubles with Grip 1, 2, 3, 0, 1

Glute Ham Raise
3 triples w/ 20lb med ball

(2) 10s w/ staggered start
(4) 20s 2 w/ parallel, 2 w/ staggered start
2 min RI
Didn't film these because I was running two fast for the camera to focus. Sorry.

Med Ball Throws
3 rotational push each side
5 lying pull-over

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