The Best Scholar or Cheerleader Isn’t Always the Best Coach


I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and researching into the act and art of outstanding coaching lately. You see, that’s the difference between a decent personal trainer and a great performance coach: The “Coach” title. My objective in my field is to not only maximize my clients’ response to training itself but to enhance their lives and overall “game”, whether that’s football, track, martial arts, or being awesome at life.

To do that isn’t just a matter of prescribing heavy deadlifts on a regular basis (although that’ll make you better) or even teaching them how to activate their lats before they do a simple row. To be a great coach I need to be able to motivate, encourage, enforce boundaries, and eliminate distraction. As human beings we’re capable of accomplishing far more than we give ourselves credit for and allow ourselves to believe. It takes a coach, not a trainer, to be able to draw that extra 10%, the 10% that really matters, out of someone.

There’s a lot of confusion in my business about what a performance coach does. Many seem to think that all we do is come up with (sound) exercise programs for our clients. As I said above, that’s sort of the entry level of the field. While it certainly is an important skill there comes a time as a coach where you need more.

Another thing people think is that we’re cheerleaders. There was a trainer at a facility I used to work at who, while not being a bad trainer, was so excited and encouraging that it was actually comical. I mean this girl took it to another level. While her clients definitely enjoyed her and her enthusiasm you could tell that there are times where they were sort of tuning her out. My clients, on the other hand, spent most of their time shuddering and shaking their head. (There you see the value of marketing and appealing to different groups in action.)

She spent a lot of time encouraging and bringing the energy to the training sessions but little time coaching. Her clients would just sort of go through movements blindly while being told that they were doing a “GOOD JOB!!!!!”. Well, sometimes they were, sometimes they weren’t, but they didn’t know which was which. She was missing the boat on maximizing technique so as to maximize energy.

So what does all this talk of coaching mean to you?

It means that you need to focus on boiling down what your objective in life is. Whether you’re a coach, pilot, entrepreneur, walrus polisher, or whatever you need to realize that the superficial stuff is just that: Superficial. You need to learn and develop your skills so that you can maximize your results, just like a great coach.

Too many people get caught up in the minutia of their craft, because it’s of great interest to them or some marketer has convinced them that it’s necessary, that they learn more facts about their craft rather than perfecting their skill. I recently asked on my Facebook Page “What makes a great coach?” and one of the many insightful responses was that, as the old line goes, a great coach doesn’t miss the forest for the trees.

A great coach doesn’t need to learn every single small nuance of every theory and technique out there. They do, however, need to be open to new ideas and know where to find information to solve a problem.

A great coach doesn’t need to jump, scream, hoot, and holler all of the time to fire the troops up. They do, however, need to know the psychological make-up of their players/athletes/clients and know what hot buttons to push to get the most out of them.

A great pilot needs to understand how a plane works, the science of lift, and so on. They don’t need to know how to build a plane.

A great walrus polisher needs to know what type of polish to use (vitamin E enriched?), what sort of motion to use (with or against the grain?), and how to best approach the walrus (you spook’em if you come after’em on the blind side… and a spooked walrus doesn’t polish easily).

Oh, come on. You knew I couldn’t let that one pass.

Think of the best coach you ever had. What did they do that made them great? Answer below!

Also, if anyone has the answers to my paranthetic questions regarding proper walrus polishing technique, I’m dying to know.

Comments on The Best Scholar or Cheerleader Isn’t Always the Best Coach Leave a Comment

April 16, 2011

mom @ 12:45 am #

Great job, Coach! I like the thoughts of the walrus enjoying a nice polish! LOVE, MOM.

April 21, 2011

Isaac @ 1:13 pm #

Mom: All walruses look better with a good polish on them!

April 17, 2011

Angie Plummer @ 1:02 pm #

Nice article Coach!!!!!

April 21, 2011

Isaac @ 1:12 pm #

Thanks, Ang!

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