Seriously, what is the most important thing that we do as strength coaches? This is a question that we need to ask ourselves as many times as possible year after year. Why is this important? Everything we do on a daily basis needs to be grounded on our answer to that question.
I wish there was a definitive answer that all of us strength coaches could use or a simple way to get us all on the same page. This theoretical idea is impossible, but that is a good thing. Imagine if all of our programs were the same? If we all did the same thing, we would never progress as a profession. We would be a profession of robots where there would be no new ways to get our athletes better. There are a million ways to skin a cat and a million ways to train your teams.
The “how” in training our teams is an art form, but the “why” should come from a concise, simple phrase that everything you do originates from. Regardless of your views on religion, you can sum up Christianity in one phrase: “Love one another as you love yourself.” That is the core value that it all stems from. It does not matter if your religion is Catholic, Protestant, Baptist; they all have their different way of doing things (their “how”), but the core of what they stand for is summed up in that one sentence. I believe it keeps us grounded and helps us keep our eyes on the prize.
This profession is not about us. Let me repeat, this profession is not about us. If your core statement says it is, it is time to rewrite it! As a profession, we have to accept that we are spokes in the wheel. That is why we are called support staff. Our job is to support the players, coaches, administration, trainers, etc. The faster you accept that fact, the better and more meaningful your job will be. There is no other way.
The more we can stay in our lane and concentrate on what is most important, the more we will get done. It will keep us goal-oriented, working in a more positive setting instead of a negative one, making it up as we go along and being in an atmosphere where we bitch about how others can’t do their job.
It took me years to realize this, but we cannot do other people’s jobs and be good at ours. It is that simple. If we are worried about how the trainer can’t do this or our equipment guy can’t do that, it takes away from what we are supposed to be doing. I found out one thing after doing this for so long at every level imaginable: You will never consistently win on the field until everyone in your organization is on the same page.
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I have been blessed to have that happen in some places I have worked and cursed in others. I have had a fluid plan for years and kept it going during some dark times and losses. After every loss, it was, “Do we need to change what we are doing?” We believed in what we were doing, stuck to our core, and kept training our players the way we believed in.
After a while, everyone in the organization got on the same page, and we went on a tear for five of the greatest years of my life. It has happened at other places, and when I got fired, I left with my head high because not only did I believe in what we did, I honestly (after much thought and deliberation… getting fired will do that to you) felt that we did the absolute best job we could have done there. If it was not good enough for that coach, oh, well. I could sleep at night, which is a win in anyone’s book!
All the wins and losses stuff is enough to drive you crazy if you let it, but it is vital to stick to your plan. If you believe in it and your players are getting better, then keep doing it. It is important that you get your satisfaction from doing your job, not from those wins and losses.
I am realistic, and if you keep losing you will be fired eventually, but that can’t be what you base everything around. If what you do it is not good enough at the place you’re at, then get it going somewhere else!
My core mission statement is this: To provide a safe, challenging training environment that helps athletes maximize physical potential while minimizing athletic-related injuries.
There it is. Everything that we do is based on that simple phrase. The closer we stay to that, the more productive and positive we are. The more we stray away from that, all bets are off. If I don’t get a new pair of sneakers from our equipment guy, that has nothing to do with maximizing the potential of our athletes or minimizing injuries, does it?
The further we get from that, the further we get from acting like professionals. Acting like a Johnny Blowhard on game day and screaming at referees has nothing to do with getting our athletes better, does it? That is where the athletic trainers have beaten us in professionalism. They simply worry about the safety and well being of the athletes, and then they act like it. They do not bring attention to themselves and they all work together no matter the team they are playing against. It is a wonder how little they get fired, isn’t it?
The further we stray from our core beliefs, the further we stray from being the professionals we should and can truly be. I used to be a Johnny Blowhard, but after meeting and learning from some of the greatest strength coach professionals (Joey Batson and Mike Gentry, thank you!) and how they conduct themselves, their staffs, and their lives, is it any wonder why they have won so many games and their assistants have gone on to do great things?
The answer is no because they kept true to what they believe in and what really matters in this profession. They know what is the most important and stick with it through thick and thin. Hope we can all do the same.