Go With What You Know

TAGS: fired strength coach, football player, communication, Coach G, control, weight room, strength coach

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At this point in the season, things may be going as you planned or they may not. An unfortunate loss, the ball bounces the wrong way, or things are just not clicking. Whatever the reason, what does a strength coach do when things are not going as expected? This is one of the hardest things to deal with, whether you are new at this business, or have been in it for a while. It makes it even tougher if you are an assistant and do not have a lot of communication with sport coaches outside of their respective team workouts.

Most of it is human nature—you worry about things you have no control over and will never have any control over, but your job may depend on it. That is the Catch-22 of our profession. There is no quantum way to judge what constitutes a good strength coach from a bad one, and you can be a great strength coach one year and the worst ever the next. Have you ever heard of a concrete reason for a strength coach getting fired? How in the world can they base it on wins and losses when you don’t coach a down, have no say in play calling, or recruiting the next greatest thing since sliced bread? But we get fired anyway.


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So, it is natural to worry when things are going south for the season. This is the tipping point for all strength coaches. It does not matter what your relationship is with your sport coach, when it comes to saving his ass, they will fire you in the blink of an eye. It has happened to me, and I have seen it happen to strength coaches every year with no rhyme or reason. But it happens ALL the time.

So, what is a guy to do? I can only tell you from my own experience, and I have seen it all. I have been on both great teams and awful teams, teams with a no-win season and some 10-win seasons, and everything in-between. I have worked on my philosophy and programming for the past 25 years.

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It is not perfect, and there always room for improvement as every year brings new challenges. But I believe in what I do and how I do it. I believe in the plan my staff and I design, implement, and execute. We are going to run it no matter how many wins or losses or where we are in the season. We are going to go with what we and the players believe in. This is a piece of advice I would give any strength coach and staff: if you believe in what you guys are doing and the players believe in it and their bodies are responding the way they should, then don’t change anything! I know it is easier said than done, depending on where you are, but there comes a time when you have to stop looking over your shoulder with everything you do and stop looking at what everyone else is doing. Do your own thing!

I have said it a million times: We all have different athletes, facilities, and athletes. You must figure out what works for you, your staff, and your athletes. Once you find it, keep it rolling. If you are doing it right, and have great communication with your players, then they will know what is going on and will take care of business. I tell our players all the time that we are in this together. When we win, we all win. When we lose, we all lose. Don’t care who had a bad or good game, figure out what you did wrong and get better at it. That is the only way to keep moving forward. That is what makes the process so great as it doesn’t focus on the outcome. Instead, it focuses on getting better every day to help you control the outcome.

The relationships and the lives you touch teaching your athletes to become contributing members of society is the ultimate goal. An athlete graduating or being a great teammate is just as important as seeing him hit a personal best or overcome an injury. The true essence of a strength coach is the journey, not the destination. I do not like the players on winning teams any more than the players we have had on losing teams. It takes a million factors to win a bunch of games, and the weight room is just a hub in the wheel. I know that is a hard pill to swallow for a lot of strength coaches, but it is true. Once you realize all of this, it can get you back to focusing on why you became a strength coach in the first place—to help athletes get better. It is the only way to keep your sanity.


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Don’t take me wrong, I want to win as bad as anyone, and there is nothing better than conquering an opponent after a hard-fought battle. Love to see the athletes reap the rewards of their hard work. The problem is, if you are basing everything on wins and losses you are in for a rough ride. When you think this way, you start to doubt everything outside and inside the weight room.

If you don’t believe in what you are doing and lose a game or two, panic will set in. What do you do then? Start changing workouts and start doing things you and your players don’t believe in. Once this happens, the players smell fear, and then you will lose them. The weight room should be the most consistent thing in their lives. Let everyone else push the panic button.

Set your sails and keep doing what you do. It will help you and your athletes continue to get better and keep moving forward, which is really all you can ask. I am not saying you cannot tweak things here or there, but I have seen strength coaches scrap everything they had been successfully doing after a few losses and started everything new. Every one of them turned out to be a disaster for everyone. In the coaching profession, we are probably going to be fired sooner or later, it is the nature of the beast. If it happens and you did it your way, you can walk out of there with your head high knowing you did it your way. It is a lot easier to look yourself in the mirror that way. You can’t buy peace of mind like that.

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