As a young strength and conditioning coach I made my fair share of mistakes as I made my first forays into the professional world. A trap that many new university graduates fall into is thinking that being the most technically adept and knowledgeable person is the best measure for success in their role and an indication of expertise. I myself got caught up in this line of thinking and spent most of my time post-university reading and absorbing every single piece of programming based knowledge I could get my hands on. At this stage of my career I was primarily working with the general population, and my thought process was that providing my clients with results through the most up to date and cutting edge programming/training was the best possible way to provide service. What I realised later was that this was ignoring one of the fundamental aspects of training/coaching: the person. An important realisation for me recently has been the understanding that I am first a coach and a sport scientist second. To do this you need to suck up your pride and accept that you need to go back to ‘school’ and rethink most of the way you go about your work. It is important for your work to deliver results (at the end of the day our job is to enhance performance). However, this cannot be the sole focus of your ‘coaching’. There were a few resources that had a profound influence on my coaching and really changed the way that I thought about my role as a strength and conditioning coach. These books are: Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman Quiet – Susan Cain Mindest – Carol Dweck (all available on audible.com.au)
Understanding out emotion can effect physical state, how the manner and focus of praise can change behaviour and how each athlete requires a different coaching approach created a massive shift in my perspective. So how has this changed how I coach?
* Being more responsive to athlete emotional state – this has meant spending more time getting to know my athletes and then attempting to match their mood and body language to make them feel more comfortable. Using this knowledge to make an informed decision on when to push or when to pull back in sessions.
* The actual delivery of my coaching – praise is focused on process and effort. Centring our praise around a result subconsciously directs our athlete to believe that it is their inherent talent that has allowed them to achieve their goal and not hard work and commitment. Indeed, in early training years this may be the case though as the requirements of training and competition become increasingly demanding it is that latter that is going to have a more direct impact on their performance.
* Individualisation of the coaching approach – Understanding that people fall on a spectrum from highly introverted to highly extroverted and as such will respond differently to training stimulus and situation. Extroverted athletes are going to thrive in a high energy environment whereas this is potentially detrimental to your more introverted athletes. A high energy and socially demanding training environment will drain these athletes of the energy they require to train. This means you need to think about who you pair your athletes with in sessions and what the actual environment your creating is.
As coaches we deal with people and fundamentally you can put the most perfect program together but if you are not creating a training environment that is conducive to peak performance for the athlete/s then your program may not be successful. The most successful training program is the one that the athlete buys into and commits to.
Simple programming with attention to detail will yield results.
Valkyrie Strength Performance