How to Be an Awesome Coach

TAGS: eight things, Brendon Rearick, awesome, coach

A few weeks ago when I was going through Bret Contreras’ “Good Reads of the Week,” I came across an article called “How to Be Awesome” and it got me thinking. What makes for an awesome coach? Here are the top eight things I came up with. Although I wrote this for coaches, I feel this can be applied to any job where you are in a leadership role.

1. Smile!
Why smile? Because it’s contagious! It’s like the plague. Ever notice that when you smile at someone, you always receive one in return. It’s human nature to smile back. A smile says, “Hi. I like you. You make me happy. I’m glad to see you.” Smile at your athletes, co-workers, potential clients, visitors, the cleaning guy, when you see yourself in the mirror… everyone! People will feed off your smile and start smiling whenever they’re around you. People will associate you with happiness and positivity. Like I said, it’s contagious!

2. Speak up!
This is one many people I feel struggle with, myself included. Sometimes it just comes with confidence, but sometimes some people just aren’t hardwired to be loud and demand attention. It’s just their personality. What do I mean by speak up? Scream, yell, throw foam rollers, drop f-bombs, drop down and give me 20! No. What I mean by speak up is two things. One, be loud enough so that everyone can hear you. When you’re teaching an exercise with your back turned, there’s music blaring, there are weights clinking, and you’re whispering, you will turn around and I will either be staring off into space or I’ll be picking my nose. Two, if someone is doing something wrong, say something. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen a coach or intern just stand there knowing that the athlete is doing a movement incorrectly but not say a damn word. You’re a coach. Athletes are coming there to be coached. You are the authority, so speak up!

3. Look the part!

There is a saying, “Don’t trust a skinny chef.” In the training world, we should not only know what we’re talking about, but we should also look the part as well. Would you ask for lifting advice from a 135-lb bean pole who hasn’t been under the bar a day in his life? No, you wouldn’t. But this isn’t to say you have to look like Mr. or Mrs. Universe either. Look like you workout and practice what you preach. Looking the part includes the clothes you wear, too. Yes, as strength coaches and personal trainers, we have the luxury of going to work in shorts, a T-shirts, and sneakers. But coming in your pajamas right after you rolled out of bed isn’t acceptable, especially if they’re footy pajamas. Think of yourself as a walking billboard. Always look presentable even if you’re in gym clothes.

4. Educate!
My title at work is coach and trainer, but I sometimes also like to think of myself as a teacher. I want my athletes and clients to know why we’re doing things. If I’m going to put that much time, effort, and money into something, I want to know why and how this is going to help me. I want them to know how to do things correctly. This way on days when your athletes or clients can’t be with you or they ship off to college or they need to train on their own, you can have peace of mind that they aren’t going to do curls in the squat rack with Tabata shake weight squats. Educating them will help you out as well. There is nothing I love more than walking over to correct an exercise and one of my veteran athletes beats me to it. Education is a beautiful thing!

5. Have fun!
What’s more fun than working out? Well, for me it’s about the best damn thing on earth! But for others, working out is like nails on a chalkboard. Well, guess what? You can change that. As their trainer, you have the power to make them laugh, make them smile, pick fun and new exercises, and have them enjoy every minute they’re there instead of looking at working out as a form of torture. Every day before you go to work, say to yourself, “I want to be the best part of my client’s day.” Make it fun to be there!

6. Put yourself in their shoes!
I am 22 years old. Every day I deal with kids half my age and adults double my age. They do completely different things and have completely different problems and skill sets than I do. An 11 year old goes to school, eats in a cafeteria, rides his bike, questions everything, won’t do anything that isn’t fun, has an attention span of three seconds, worships Justin Bieber, and watches Saved by the Bell (well maybe they don’t anymore, but I sure did!). A 44 year old takes care of her kids, drinks three cups of coffee before work, drives everywhere, sits down eight hours a day, listens to ACDC, still doesn’t know how to “text,” has the mobility of a steel rod, sleeps five hours a night, and has the “I’ll start on Monday mentality.” OK, so I know this isn’t everyone, but you get the point. Put yourself in your clients’ shoes and look at working out from their perspective. I’m 22. I can’t train an 11 year old like a 22 year old. We have different situations. And vice versa. I can’t train a 44 year old like a 22 year old or like an 11 year old. That would be murder. As a coach and trainer, put yourself in their shoes and really think to yourself, “If I was 11…” or “If I was 44…”

7. Remember their name!

“Remember that a person's name is, to him or her, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” —How to Win Friends and Influence People

I’ve heard Dave Tatepraise and quote Dale Carnegie and his book How to Win Friends and Influence People many times. Think of the old TV show Cheers. Where does everyone want to go? “Where everybody knows your name” of course. A name is unique, and when you can remember it, it’s magic. How embarrassed do you feel when you don’t remember someone’s name? How amazed are you when someone you’ve met only once two years ago remembers yours? People are so proud of their names because that name sets them apart from everyone else. I’ve personally seen my own relationships with people change drastically just because I remembered. Who would of thought? Say it in your head three times. Write it down immediately. Start every conversation by saying it. Associate that person’s name with something visual. Keep using their name throughout the conversation. Just practice, practice, and practice!

8. Go the extra mile!
This is a huge one in my book and it’s why I put it last. And no, I’m not talking about showering your clients with gifts or God forbid give them free training sessions. I think doing the small things makes all the difference. Go out of your way to send them an email with a great article you read on nutrition that you thought they may like. Call them to see if they’re doing the extra homework you gave them. Go to one of your athlete’s games and watch her play. Send a birthday card, hook them up with an awesome massage therapist you know, ask them about their kids (parents love to talk about their kids!), or just give them a compliment! These are so small and so simple that we sometimes neglect to do them. Something what is small to you may mean a whole lot more to someone else. So take a few minutes out of your day and show your clients and athletes that you care about them more than just the money they pay you to train them. And if you don’t care enough, get the hell out of the business please because you’re making those of us who really care look bad.

So that’s it! Follow these eight rules and your clients and athletes will be calling you coach awesome in no time!

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