Anyone who has been reading my articles for awhile knows that I'm a musician. I've been playing drums since the third grade. I started playing because you had a choice at my school: take music class or take an extra class. I was never one for extra classes (reading didn't become a passion of mine until graduate school), so I started drumming. Then I learned piano (not well), trumpet (not bad), and a slew of other instruments. To this day, I'm still learning how to play new instruments.

My guitar instructor once asked me if I thought Lars Ulrich was a good drummer. My answer was, "He's a good drummer for the band he plays for." Lars is far from the most technically sound drummer, but he plays to Metallic's sound very well. Chris Adler of Lamb of God is another example. His sound, in many ways, defines Lamb of God's sounds. He is a driving force, and the song is stronger because of him.

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But I'm a coach...and you are, too, if you're reading this. We're all coaches in many aspects of our lives. Educating and coaching are one in the same, so whether you're a father, mother, teacher or firefighter, there are times when you must coach. Knowing that coaching and educating are the same thing, we must ask ourselves, "What is the end goal of coaching?"

Mark Watts has written more than I know on the subject of judging or grading a strength coach. From his articles, we all know that grading a strength coach during the training process isn't possible. What I'll explain here is that the song—the finished product or the athlete—is how to judge a strength coach.

A few days ago, I was watching clips of drummers on YouTube with my son Tenzing, and we saw a video of a drummer that I didn't know. The drummer's name is Brandon Khoo, and he's a drummer out of Singapore. He's played with a who's who of Asian musicians, so clearly, he's an accomplished musician. In the video that we were watching, Brandon was asked what makes a great drummer. His answer is genius. He said that a good drummer knows how to play for the song. The singer, the guitarist, the bass player, and the keyboard player are all important, but the song is what they are playing for. So the best drummer is the drummer who knows how to play for the song.

What does this have to do with coaching? I'm a collegiate strength and conditioning coach (I'm not a preparedness coach). To me, the song is the athlete and his performance and life. As coaches, we are the drummers, and we must keep the beat. An athlete or a department that doesn't have a strength coach will be missing the bottom in all that they do. I was lucky enough to once play drums for a young lady who had recorded her entire album without any drums. She wanted to try to add some in, and I was available. I actually felt bad for her because she had me as her first drummer. All joking aside, this is what we do as strength coaches. We add a bottom to what the athlete is already doing, and we must keep the song or the athlete in mind and not try to do everything.

How many times have you seen a young coach come into a weight room and try to correct everything that an athlete is doing? Or how many times have you seen a coach watch another team lift and then comment about poor form? This is just like the song. We shouldn't just be trying to show off how competent we are with our instruments. Are you adding to the song, or are you showing how great your double bass sounds? Ringo Starr is coaching at BigTime U. I'm not and most coaches aren't.

In the video, Brandon has another great nugget of information. The lead singer wants to be, or thinks he is, the most important member of the band. But is he? To me, this is the head coach. If the head coach you work with doesn't understand this concept, your job will be tough. I've dealt with scores of head coaches and some get this and some really don't. As a strength coach, it isn't our job to go and tell the head coach how clueless he is and that he isn't the most important member of the band. But we can try to show our worth and continue to educate because any break in your relationship with the head coach will only hurt the entire song or athlete.

In addition to the head coach or lead singer, there are many other members of the band that we deal with. Finishing off the rhythm section, we have the bassist or athletic trainer. Whenever I've played, the bassist is always near me. We just chill in the back and keep things running smoothly. At the same time, we have to follow some other leads when they feel like the tempo isn't where they want or need it to be. This isn't any different from what we do at work. The problem is that too often, the athletic trainer and the strength coach aren't on the same page. I'll be the first to admit that at my current school, we don't communicate as much as we should. I've been working on this issue and won't stop because the athlete is that important to me.

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Then there are the backup singers and the guitarist or assistant coaches. With this group, I've found that they all want to make it big one day and be the lead singer. This can be great because they often push the team with new and exciting ideas. However, there can also be some ego issues with this group. I try to get to know who is really in charge and who has the ear of the head coach. This is important because if for some reason the head coach doesn't like what you're doing back behind your drum set and an assistant coach seconds that, you have a big problem.

The last group is your record label or your administration. They aren't the artist that you are and they don't get you, so you need to stay true to who you are, right? Wrong! They want success, and quite often we don't educate them about what we're doing to make our athletes better. This is a huge issue in our profession, and I've written about it in the past. My advice remains the same—take them to lunch. Be a human and speak to them as a human. Take off your meathead and show them that you care about the athletes. I remember reading about a drummer who was fired because he just wasn't good enough. The next day, a new and better drummer came in, but he was an idiot who didn't listen to anyone else. That night, the new drummer was fired and the old drummer was brought back. Being a nice human could one day save your job.

I hope you get the analogy here and that it makes you think about our profession a little differently. After I watched Brandon's video, I found his Facebook fan page. I liked the page and told him about the article I was working on. We went on to have a 30-minute conversation about music, and I found out that he trains at a CrossFit gym in his hometown. We've since shared some videos of music and lifting. So getting out of your comfort zone can create lots of goodwill. Also, maybe one day he will buy elitefts™ equipment and then we'll have a real win-win on our hands.

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