As coaches, as strength coaches particularly, we need to be very competent in our given trade. We need to understand the needs analysis of the sport and the athlete. We need to understand the proper sequencing of the annual plan and what needs to be trained when.

We need to understand what the results of training indicate. Do the athletes need to train to produce more low torque force? High velocity force? To absorb force? Reverse force? We need to understand how what strikes the ground at what time affects the kinetics and kinematics of sprinting and change of direction. There is a lot to know.

But none of these are the most important thing you can do as a strength coach. People will never remember what you say, but they will remember how you made them feel. They won’t remember the sets of squats, the benches, the cleans, or the snatches. They won’t remember how many runs they did or how difficult the plyometric workouts were. They remember how you made them feel. They remember the feeling of being inspired. They know when you have their best interest in mind and try to lift them up.

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Think back to your favorite, best coaches or teachers. What was it about them? Was it how they taught technique? Was it how they set up training cycles? What was it? I can remember a person who was both a coach and professor of mine that was very influential, and I’ve talked about him before in various articles. Dr. Rick McGuire had an innate ability to know what to do, what to say, and how to say it at any given time. It didn’t matter what else you had going on. If you talked to coach McGuire for 10 minutes (sometimes that turned into an hour), you felt like you could change the world when you left. What did he say to me in those times that I stopped by his office? I couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you is that I remember feeling invincible leaving with his help.

It’s not the squats, it’s not the cleans, nor the reverse hypers or pull ups. It’s the value that you show the person that they have; that is what makes the difference. It is not what they did in the squat, but the fact that you set them up for success and they know that you, their coach, believes in them when it’s all on the line. It wasn’t the extra reps that help the offensive lineman blow the defensive tackle off the ball when it’s fourth and inches to the goal with three seconds left and you’re down by 6; it’s the fact that he believes in himself, because he may not have when he started but with your help, he does now. It wasn’t the push jerks that helped the basketball player sink the free throw; it was the fact that they were confident in themselves to make the shot.

As a coach, you have some important decisions to make in your program. I will sit here and tell you that debating over what exercise to put in where is one of the lesser decisions. The most important one is how to reach the athletes. Any gains that you may make in the weight room are transient. At some point throughout the athlete’s life, they are going to get weaker. They are going to get slower. The gains that you gave them are going to go away. However, if you invest in the athlete as a person, trying to help them improve their character and become the best version of themselves possible, you create lasting “gains.” You can create gains that affect not only that athlete, but the other people that they come into touch with. They go and improve the world and other people's worlds.

My good friend Martin Rooney talked about something called the Butterfly Effect in his book “Train to Win.” Now, Martin talked about the effect of small things making big changes in training, but this was my introduction to it. Andy Andrews talks about the Butterfly effect in this video and explains it in an inspiring way.

In case you don’t get a chance to watch this video, he talks about Norman Borlog who was in charge of developing a hybridized corn and wheat to grow in arid clients that saved the lives of 2,000,000,000. Andy Andrews actually traces who actually had the impact to save the 2,000,000 lives back to the mid 1860’s To Amos Washington in sleepy little Diamond, MO and beyond.

Every time you interact with your athletes, you have a chance to make an impact with your athletes. You never know what you will say or do that will stick with them. Try and make sure that whatever you say to them will be worth sticking. You may be making a long term “gain” for the athlete, that will go on to be the cure for cancer, and you set it in motion because you helped them have the greatest gain of all — confidence.

Far better results in terms of wins and losses come from confidence rather than bigger squats, higher jumps. or faster runs. The athlete who is successful on the play is so because they believe that they are good enough to get the job done (and they are competent enough).

While I will always push the envelope on the implementation of science into strength training, I will always remember what is most important. Every day I try to encourage and empower the athletes as best I can. I always try to do so through story. In the Hagakure, a book of the samurai, they state something to the effect of a person will resist you with trying to make direct change, so instead lead them with personal story or parable and let them come to the conclusion for themselves. If they don’t come to the desired conclusion at first, it is okay because they would have not had the desired outcome anyway from your command. And you have another opportunity to come again.

I try and give the athletes stories from my personal life and from others such as the story of Victor Frankl, Stephen Covey, Joshua Chamberlain Thomas Edison, and others. The upperclassmen will often ask for a story as they think it will help someone on the team who is struggling with something.

Our job as strength and conditioning professionals is not to just make the athletes stronger of body, but stronger of mind as well.