Last month, Caleb asked about con artist strength coaches online, and got some great responses.  I 100% agree with the answers from Christian and Brandon, and Murph threw out some great questions, too:

Is your coach a powerlifter?

What is his total?

Has he coached any winning lifters?

How is HIS technique? (If you don't know what good technique looks like, just google a few videos of the Team EliteFTS lifters at meets to see.)

If you didn't answer yes to all of these, you may want to enlist a new coach.

These are some great points, but I think Murph is missing a big one: how well do you work together?  At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you work well with your coach.  That doesn’t mean y’all are best friends (though I’m lucky enough to have one of my best friends as my coach and master strategist, and Dave Tate as a mentor) but it does mean you need to work with someone experienced enough to recognize what you -- and only you -- need to learn and do to improve.

That’s a big ask, and it involves a lot of different moving parts, but one of the easiest ways to assess your coach’s knowledge is to think about the cues he or she gives you.

Cues are big in powerlifting, because of how important technique is and how difficult it can be to learn depending on your body structure.  Good cues help to activate the right muscles and drive the right movement patterns.  Bad cues are usually just confusing.  Unfortunately, one particular cue won’t resonate with all lifters.  A good cue for me might be a terrible cue for you.

These are all terrible cues.

At a very basic level, a good coach knows enough and has enough experience to identify (or at least help identify) the right cues for you.  If your coach just keeps screaming “chest up!” and you can’t get your fucking chest up, or you don’t know what that feels like, or you just don’t like being screamed at, then your coach sucks and you need to find a new one.

But a great coach can go beyond that.  A great coach can:

  • recognize what needs to be fixed
  • be able to explain to you what’s wrong and why it needs to be fixed
  • know severalcues to convey how to fix it
  • have the patience to work with you long enough to create new habits

Obviously, there’s a lot more to a great coach than technique: they need to understand programming, meet strategy, and a whole bunch of psychological aspects of sport, too, but technique is a good starting point for assessment because you should be able to tell pretty quickly if your coach knows his or her stuff.

Ever had a bad experience with a coach? What did you do about it?