Don’t Do It: Interns

TAGS: Don’t Do It, c.j. murphy, harry selkow, internship, interns, matt rhodes, Mark Watts, Julia Ladewski

At some point, we’ve all been interns. It’s pretty much a given in the strength and conditioning industry.  We’ve learned what our bosses expect from us and what not to do. Sometimes we even leave an internship thinking, “Did I even learn a damn thing?”  If you’re a youngster in the industry, heed the words of advice from those of us who have been interns and have had interns under us. If you’re a strength coach or gym owner with interns working under you, keep reading… valuable information applies to you as well.

Don’ts for Coaches Handling Interns

 

Don’t make them feel stupid. Coach them to be what you expect them to be.

Don’t follow a separate set of rules from your interns/employees. Lead by example.

Don’t yell at them. This is life, not the movies or an intern position for a high-maintenance fashion personality.

Don’t place unrealistic demands on them.

The strength and conditioning industry can get watered down with young coaches who have spent many hours online, but very few hours on the floor coaching.  If you want to go from being a good coach to a great coach, follow the steps and advice of those above you and the coaches you admire.  This industry needs more great coaches.

Don’t be late or absent or call in sick.  It’s the summer—NO one gets sick in the summer!

Don’t come in looking like you just left the party.

Don’t put your hands in your pockets (pet-peeve of mine). You are defenseless from “Throat Punches” and I can only imagine what you are doing down there.

Don’t tell me that I am WRONG in either the programming that has worked for me or my COACHING that has also worked for me.

Don’t text message, Twitter, or Facebook while I am in view. That’s RUDE.

DON’T quit the internship for any reasons besides an unforeseen family situation. You should fully understand the housing, meals, and (lack of) income situation ahead of time. You will probably need to pay (or at least save up money) to be a volunteer intern. So, all of a sudden figuring out you can’t afford to do the internship is lame. Most importantly, you will need that recommendation from the head strength & conditioning coach. What are you going to do after volunteering for a few months and you can’t even use your coach as a reference?

Don’t have your phone on you in the weight room.  There is nothing on your phone that is more important than the team in the weight room.  The athletes will see you staring at your phone.  How can you be watching them if you’re buried in your phone?

Don’t talk.  Spend your time listening and watching.  There’s nothing worse than a 20-23 year-old intern who thinks they know everything.  Here’s a hint: Everything you know, the coaches already know.  There are no secrets in this business.  Don’t go spouting off about this “great new technique…” If you ask a question, listen to the answer given.  If you don’t agree, shut up.  No one wants your opinion.  You asked the question and you got an answer.

Don’t date the co-eds.  Even if the head coach gives you the “OK.”  It’s just not worth it.  It’s tough because if you’re fresh out of school or even still in school, the athletes would be your peers. If you want to be a strength coach, this is a bridge you can NEVER cross.  Don’t do it as an intern.  There are plenty of other date-able co-eds.  Stay away from the athletes.

Don’t try to insert yourself into the coaching aspect with a team right off the bat.  The athletes barely notice you.  They care even less about how much you think you know.  Be quiet, watch and learn the team’s personality and the athlete’s individual personalities.

Don’t be Johnny Motivation, either.  Every now and then give a “Great job!” or a “Nice lift!”  Once they start to recognize you and engage with you, you can SLOWLY start cueing them.  Remember, you’re an intern. Know your place. The head coach doesn’t need you to motivate the team.

Don’t just stand around. If you don’t know what to do because you’re not coaching, then walk around and watch.  Listen.  Observe how a weight room is run during a team workout.

Don’t be misguided.  Twenty percent of coaching is sets/reps.  Eighty percent is getting the teams to buy into what you’re doing.  Football, soccer, lacrosse, basketball, etc…these teams all have their own cultures. You have to be able to communicate to each type of team and get them to believe in what you want them to do.  They don’t care if you’re right. They just need to be brainwashed.  Learn how to do this.

Don’t be Johnny Correct Everything. There are certain exercises to correct and certain times when it just doesn’t matter.  A squat needs to be corrected. Let a coach know. If they tell you to correct it, go ahead. Don’t worry if a kid doesn’t do a plank to perfection at the end of a workout.  Sometimes it just doesn’t really matter.

Don’t question the coach in front of the athletes.  I understand some coaches are idiots, but they are still your boss for the summer. Unless the athlete is in danger, approach the coach in private.

Don’t look bored.  This includes closed arms, leaning against the wall, watching another coaches drill if you are assigned to something specific.  Be active, engaged, and move around.

Don’t eat in front of the athletes!  If you were an intern at an attorney’s office would you eat in a meeting with clients? NO! It doesn’t matter if you need to eat every two hours. You will not waste away to nothing. Keep the food for breaks.

Don’t wait to be asked to help. If a coach starts to pick things up, jump in, and help. Don’t sit and watch the coach clean up.

Don’t be surprised when you are asked to run to Einstein Bagel to get a pumpernickel bagel with egg and cheese.  It is one of those things that comes with the job.  In other words, sometimes interns handle the little things.

 


Don’ts for Coaches Handling Interns

Don’t make them feel stupid. Coach them to be what you expect them to be.

Don’t follow a separate set of rules from your interns/employees. Lead by example.

Don’t yell at them. This is life, not the movies or an intern position for a high-maintenance fashion personality.

Don’t place unrealistic demands on them.


Don’ts for the Internship Coordinator

Don’t Take on interns just to add assistants. There are a lot of strength programs that are under-staffed and under-budgeted.  There is a constant need to add quality coaching and to shift the coach to athlete ratio in your favor. An intern will not be a substitute for a coach. They are still learning, and putting them in a situation they are not ready for makes you and them look incompetent.

Don’t give a recommendation to an intern who does not represent your program well. Your professional reputation has a large stake in who moves on from your staff. Make sure you communicate all expectations early in the process and constantly evaluate and give timely and measurable feedback.

Don’t leave the intern guessing with what you expect from them. Have an operations manual for your interns and include everything from locking up, equipment clean up, and storage.  Have their day spelled out so they understand exactly what you want them to do.


The strength and conditioning industry can get watered down with young coaches who have spent many hours online, but very few hours on the floor coaching.  If you want to go from being a good coach to a great coach, follow the steps and advice of those above you and the coaches you admire.  This industry needs more great coaches.

 

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