17 Apr Goodbye Virginia, Hi Again New York and Opportunities for You and Me
Goodbye Virginia, Hi Again New York and Opportunities for You and Me
My wife and I and our baby girl just moved away from Virginia last weekend. After a ton of thought, I decided to move on from formal college strength and conditioning to work privately in strength and conditioning in the New York City area.
As I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the University standing tall in the town that had been home for me and my family for the last 5 years, I tried to take a moment to think of all the lessons I learned there and great opportunities I had.
I’m writing this to share these lessons in hopes you can apply them to your own life. They aren’t specific lessons about training and lifting that I learned while there (that would take an entire book) but rather broad thoughts that I’ve taken from my experience as a whole.
While these lessons are somewhat specific toward coaches, anyone can draw ideas from them.
But first, pictures of my time working as a D1 Strength Coach and the great opportunities I had along with just some of the people I was fortunate enough to spend time with:
Lesson #1 – To be called “Coach” is a Great Honor
It pisses me off a little when I hear some fitness trainers, still wet behind the ears, call themselves strength and conditioning coaches. Even worse is those that insist on referring to themselves as Coach so-and-so.
Who have they coached? What have they done? Taking a handful of general clients through a workout it took you five minutes to scribble on your new Sesame Street spiral notebook with doesn’t afford you the title of coach doesn’t grant you rights to the title of strength and conditioning coach.
I remember the first time an athlete called me Coach and even more vividly the first time another Coach did. Both times I was caught off guard and I paused before I realized I was supposed to respond.
I worked along side a man who had previously coached athletes at powerhouse programs like Alabama and Texas A&M, among others. He’s legitimately one of the first strength and conditioning coaches in college athletics and has contributed more success through strength and conditioning to more high-level athletes than most will even meet.
He’s devoted his life to the athletes he’s coached and the profession he’s developed and I’ve never met a man who deserves the title of “Coach” more than him.
Being a coach is an honor because of the position you’re in. A coach has more impact on more people at the same time than most will have in a lifetime.
Think about your average Division 1 football team. Most rosters include over 100 players. As a strength coach, not to mention as a position or head coach, you have tons of opportunities to speak to these young men and help develop their physical attributes and also their character and attitude.
Personally, I was head strength and conditioning coach for three different teams all with close to twenty to thirty athletes on each team at one time and I assisted with football..
Coaching entire teams, you get to share in their successes and their failure. You’re with them through good and the bad and have the opportunity to put your personality into the team hopefully contributing to their success.
I was fortunate enough to influence athletes for the better for three different conference championships teams:
It was a privilege to play whatever part I had in their success, and one that I had to earn the right to experience as a coach. You don’t just apply for a college strength job, get hired because you look the part, and are given elite athletes the coach.
The long, long hours spent interning, volunteering, sitting at the feat of brilliant strength and performance coaches, reading my craft at night while others slept, afforded me the privilege to be called Coach.
Privilege, not right.
There are plenty people who have earned the title of strength and conditioning coach or fitness coach in the private sector through their great body of work and the results they delivered to their athletes and clients.
These great coaches definitely don’t need to be employed by a college or professional organization to claim this label because they’re influence has reached enough people. They bring as much honor to the title coach as any regular college strength coach. But, these people understand the importance of the title and act accordingly. Just some food for thought.
Lesson #2 – Everything Must Be Modifiable and You Must Be Adaptable
Performance coaches who privately train small groups like to criticize college, H.S. and pro level strength and conditioning coaches by saying that they don’t focus on technical issues.
Formal strength coaches bark back at these people and claim that the performance coaches don’t grasp the art of programming and only seem effective because they can focus more attention to individual athletes to work on their limitations because they aren’t tasked with coaching entire teams and all the pressures that come along with it.
In all seriousness, both parties need to shut the hell up about this. They’re both right and they’re both wrong.
Private performance coaches need to realize that formal strength coaches have a very limited time with the athletes and are pressured by coaches and administration to make them better, not just work on restrictions and injury prevention, although this is a big part in creating a better athlete.
Strength and conditioning coaches need to understand that the performance coach has great insight into maximizing an athlete’s current potential because they can experiment and observe in ways a college strength coach cannot. This information can invaluable for the formal strength coach willing to listen.
Both can learn from each other.
Being a strength coach over larger teams, I quickly get very good at modifying everything and anything at any point.
Athletes would show up to weights complaining of this injury and that dysfunction and constantly need modifications due to demands of practice and games.
It’s almost impossible to zealously stick to the 12 week training cycle you drafted after two months of internal deliberation and five years of studying Russian, Bulgarian, and the rest of those strong white people country training manuals.
As a college strength coach, I couldn’t do everything for everyone in terms of meeting their needs for mobility, positional stability, balance, coordination, etc., but I could still learn from those working independently with high-level athletes and group certain athletes into “focus groups.”
This meant that if I saw a common limitation with a select number of athletes on a team and another common limitation with the remaining athletes, I’d take something out of the training session and divide the team into these groups for the last 10 minutes of the workout to help each other out and work on their common limitation.
There’s a ton of different ways to do this, but this is what worked for me and allowed me to get what I wanted done but still remain adaptable.
Lesson #3 – You Must Earn the Respect of Your Athletes, It Shouldn’t Just be Assumed
A very gifted and hard-working athlete of mine made things very difficult for me when I first took over as strength coach of the Women’s Swimming and Diving team.
That’s right — women’s team…If you saw how beast these girls are you’d understand the intimidation…Don’t you dare judge me…
Anyway, she challenged me at every corner, either outright or passively. She didn’t see me as the authority even though I was placed there and it was clear that she doubted my knowledge of strength and performance.
(I want to make this sound as bad as possible because she’s an avid reader of this site now.)
Fast forward a year from then and she was one of my biggest fans and I hers. I understood from the start that there was no reason for me to get all pissy that she didn’t show me the utmost respect.
Who the hell was I from anyone else?
Instead, I set out to prove myself. I showed I passionately cared and was invested in the team. I educated them and explained what we were doing to make them stronger, increase their range of motion, and make them more powerful athletes. More importantly, I made them a part of this process, giving them ownership.
Obviously the most definitive way I proved myself was that I made them better.
I’ve had some great moments in my coaching career. Seeing my teams win big conference games and being on the sidelines while they played in front of hundreds of fans comes to mind.
But still, one of the moments that moves me that most was when that same athlete came up to me after weights and thanked me for making her faster and more dominant, crediting me as a big key to her success.
This was just after she had dominated at a meet and been ranked very high among all collegiate swimmers.
As time went on, she’d continue to show me video of them swimming at meets I couldn’t attend, pointing out how much harder they kicked off the walls during their turns and how it was evident their power was superior to that of their competitors.
She also followed my program, along with the rest of the team, without question. I had earned the right to be their coach.
When I left, I told her to give their next strength coach as hard a time as she gave me because they deserve that.They deserve to have a coach who understands respect must be earned, as do all great athletes.
On To The Next
If you haven’t noticed, we got a little different theme on this site with some cool new stuff.
Definitely sign up for my newsletter and get Our Ancestral Clan’ Training System completely free.
It’s seriously one of the best series I’ve made in terms of explaining the principles that top strength and performance coaches use to guide their decision making in planning and organizing training. I really wanted to make this a free resource because I’m here to elevate the average level of current thinking in strength, fitness, and performance. This this information that should be passed down, not kept as secret.
With my career shift from college strength and conditioning to working privately in New York, I’ve also freed up a lot more time and so am offering more online coaching spots as well as consultations so be sure to check out my “Work with Me” tab and see how I can help you.
Want to put the offer to you, my readers, that I’ll be offering in-person small coaching groups for athletes, strength athletes, and groups of general clients who are ready to feel and perform like an athlete again, or for the first time.
I’ll be coaching these groups in the greater new york/new york city area so
Looking to build a really special community of athletes and lifters up here who challenge themselves with the the same level of intensity as a Division 1 athletic program.
I Want people who constantly challenge their limits. If you’re up for that and you’re tired of settling for less than that, let’s get started.
Click this link —> contact
A piece of me will always be in Virginia and I’ll forever be thankful when I think of that place and everything I learned and all who helped develop me in my professional and personal life.
Looking forward to new experience and adventures in NY. Thanks for reading so far and keep checking back here for a lot more exciting things.
Appreciate the support!
Illegitimi non carborundum
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