Coaching and Learning

“A Good Coach Should Be Like A Sponge”

Someone once said to me “ a good coach should be like a sponge, constantly trying to absorb as much information as possible.”  As a young coach, we embrace this, and we become comfortable in the uncomfortable- we realize we know nothing, and we look up to our mentors to teach us, and help us develop.  The longer we are coaches, however, the easier it is to fall into a comfort zone- we less often stray from what we’ve always done, we begin to view our own method as “right” and other methods as “wrong.” Falling into this mindset is one of the most dangerous things that can happen to a fitness professional.

In the relatively young and constantly evolving industry of strength and conditioning, there are a variety of new scientific studies with a wealth of new information being produced.  If we are too stuck in our comfort zone, or let our ego become too large, to utilize this new information, we are doing a discredit to our clientele, and possibly setting up the demise of our career and or gym.  

One of the best aspects of USA Weightlifting is its community, its openness among coaches, and their willingness to share information.  You could likely reach out to any coach in the USA Weightlifting system, and ask them a question about programming, technique, strength, accessories, etc and they would gladly take the time to share what they have found works for them and what has worked with their athletes.  It is our goal as coaches to help create the healthiest, strongest and fittest athletes, to the best of our ability. If this ability is enhanced by utilizing new research, and the resources in our community, why do we see so many coaches refusing to do so?

Continuing your education doesn’t just apply for the first few years you are in this industry- it is a commitment you should be making forever. The most successful coaches, despite coaching for a long time, are actively bettering themselves, learning about the new research, speaking with other coaches, are trying new methods, and not being discouraged if some of them fail.

Ego is defined as “a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.”  Somewhere along the way, many coaches (and professionals) have tied knowledge into their ego.  They think that if they admit they don’t know everything (and really who does) people won’t want to be coached by them.  In my experience, however, it is just the opposite.  Dogmatic coaching beliefs, systems and programs, lead to higher rates of injury, higher rates of injury leads to burn out and client loss. Set aside your ego, and realize that your clients are not trusting you to know everything, but to have their best interests at heart, and do what is best FOR THEM individually.  And you will only be capable of that if you realize you will never know everything, and continue to improve and learn. So if you are new to this industry or maybe you’ve been in this industry and have just become complacent, remember, “a good coach should be like a sponge,” and be the best you can be for your clients.  

-Danny Eller

Joelle Emery