elitefts™ Sunday Edition

In a recent article I stated that I was going to answer some questions as they came into my email at strengthcoachg@yahoo.com. I had no idea the response that I would get, and I probably have received enough questions from last month alone to write articles for an entire year. I’m not sure which way this column is going to go, but as I always say when I speak at conferences or write articles, I would rather give you what you want to talk about than what I want to talk about. I am by no means an expert on everything, but I have seen a lot in the last 20 years as a strength coach at the high school and collegiate levels to now have an informed opinion on most things. I said it when I wrote my book, and the reason that I am writing these articles is the same. I want to help young strength coaches, and anyone considering the profession, to not make the same mistakes that I did. Here is one of the questions I received:

"Coach G, is the profession different now than when you started? If so, why?

“Coach G, is the profession different now than when you started? If so, why?

It was a lot different twenty years ago than it is now. It was just breaking through as a legitimate profession, and I think it had a much greater mix of science, real world training, and trial an error than it has today. I think it is way out of whack right now, with all these young coaches getting in that have never paid their dues—not to themselves or to the profession. I hope I am not the first one to tell you this, but getting a four year degree and training one or two people does NOT qualify as paying your dues.

Of the twenty five or so great interns I have had, there are probably one hundred that never had a chance because they would not pay the price that it took to be great. The work was demeaning and beneath them. It was always, “Why should I mop the floor? Someone else will do it. I don’t like bitch work. What’s that have to do with being a strength coach?” It blows my mind that these guys are not willing to outwork the intern next to him, and maybe get a spot. To even have the chance to work with my strength coach, I had to train on my own then show up on the days I didn’t lift to help load and spot when the power team was lifting.

I lived 45 minutes from the gym. I did this for a year until I got a seat at the table and was able to train with the big boys. I just listened and learned for a year. I kept my mouth shut and did what I was told. It is not like that today. Everyone wants to be the boss without paying the cost. If you do not sacrifice, and you do not demand personal commitment from yourself, you will never respect what your athletes are doing. If you have never put in the time it really takes to be really good at something, you cannot comprehend what some of these guys are doing.

Let’s take the squat, for example. When I see an athlete squat 600 pounds, I can fully comprehend and respect what he has just done. It is not a number. It’s not because you see it in magazines or hear other schools that have athletes that can do it, rather, it’s the fact that somehow he has outworked everyone else, and paid the cost to be the boss. I know there will be a lot of people to discredit what that athlete has done, regardless if it is in the squat, clean, 40 time, whatever. I know they’ll say, “They are genetic freaks. They are just built that way. The testing was wrong.” It is a joke. I know there are a lot of self promoters out there, and a lot of useless information you hear on a day to day basis. Ignore it. Worry about yourself and your athletes. Find something you can commit to and just go do it.

When you respect yourself, and put in the time to do something worthwhile that can’t be accomplished in a week, two or three, you will start to look at what your athletes are doing a little differently. The respect will start to go both ways and great things will start to happen. Once mutual respect is reached it is followed by a common confidence, a confidence that you can accomplish things together, because both sides are willing to pay the price.

I remember one team we had that was poised to make a great run. In order for us to accomplish what we wanted to do that year, we had to have an unbelievable summer. That team had a great work ethic, but everyone had to take it to another level. At the start of the summer we went over team and individual goals, and then the strength staff listed their personal goals that were to be a PR or bust. My personal demon was to rack a 350-pound stone. My best was 300. We had another guy who wanted to squat 700, another to deadlift 600, and on and on. All summer we trained in the morning before the afternoon players. Do you know what happened? Players started coming in to watch and help us lift! They would help us train in the morning to help us reach our goal and we would do the same to them in the afternoon. It was unreal. At the end of the eight weeks, I was the last man standing who had not put his goal to bed. It took me almost until the last day of the summer to finally rack that damn thing. Once it went up, we never looked back. The bond was there forever because we were all willing to pay the price for ourselves and for our team to become better. We strived to be the best. We sacrificed for mutual respect. It’s a special feeling. If you want it, and want to know what it feels like, then it’s time to get off your ass and do something!

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