Well just under a year

So in just under a year since graduating I’ve worked at two different gyms, for one university team, and I started my own business. Pretty solid year. What have I learned from all that experience? I’m not totally sure where to start because it’s all muddled up in my head, but I will try and make sense of it.

The first and obvious thing is that I am now acutely aware of how unprepared I was coming out of university and how little I knew. If it hadn’t been for my own training, internships, and rugby coaching I would be far worse off than I am now. A kin degree is a great foundation, but without any opportunity to apply that knowledge most of what I learned in my undergrad is gone. Now that’s also my own fault because I am still trying to have a career as an athlete, which inherently makes being a coach difficult. I was aware of the basics, such as rep ranges and things of that nature, but I hadn’t created a periodization plan for an athlete for an entire year. Therefore I had to look up what macro and micro cycles are and I still get them confused. So yeah in terms of basic athlete planning and care, I have learned a huge amount. So my best advice is that if you’re going to school with the ultimate goal of becoming a strength coach,
supplement your learning with articles and blogs written by people that are on the front line in the industry.
The next thing I learned is that there is no set standard for what is actually right and wrong, or at least whether what is being presented is right or wrong. I know that there are some strength coaches that a far better than others and you can try to focus mainly on them, but even then you read or listen to something from them and at the end of the day isn’t it really just their opinion on how things should be done? What I’m trying to say is that different from becoming a lawyer where everyone learns and studies the same things to acquire the same standard of knowledge to eventually pass the bar, in S&C there are endless certifications and standards from many different organizations. There is no single exam/certification that says this person has at least this base of knowledge that all strength coaches have. What that means is every coach is taking what knowledge and experience they have and forming their training “philosophy” which is unique to them. In an industry like this you have to do your research and stick to what you know works through experience and not allow yourself to be blown around like a leaf in the wind by all the information you see out there. Be open to knowledge, but think critically!
As part of that, the internet and social media can be a fantastic gateway to knowledge and to observe what the top coaches are doing, but just be aware of all the other bad information and gimmicks that are also out there. If you stumble across something that is interesting, ask yourself, does it actually enhance performance, or does it just look cool? Is it a gimmick, or based on science? And finally, does it feel like they are trying too hard to reinvent the wheel? Because S&C doesn’t need to be reinvented; it can be improved upon like everything else, but the foundation will always remain the same. (In case you were wondering some of my favourite coaches are Zach Evenesh, Keir Whenham-Flatt, Ryan Horn, and Graeme Morris)
I have also learned that I am useless at social media and I hate the fact that I need to have a social media presence to be a successful coach. If I can put a picture up of me holding a cat and get almost triple the activity of a post I made about how I’m utilizing velocity based training, clearly I am highly disconnected from my audience because I think VBT is way cooler than a cat. Maybe not cuter than the cat, but cooler for sure.
What else is there, Oh I’ve learned that I (or anyone for that matter) will get a far better answer and learn much more by going to a more experienced coach for their answer rather than going to a textbook. Chances are if that coach has more experience than you, they probably read what you were about to read and can discuss their thoughts on the topic, as well as their own thoughts on how it may have changed when it was applied to training an athlete. So a 30 min convo will teach you way more than reading a textbook will. However, continuing education and reading is still vital to your growth and success as a coach.
Finally, I learned that programming for yourself is hard! After years of having a coach plan my training and to now have to do that for myself is exciting, but also really hard. Having people look at the programs and ask questions about them will really enhance what you program for yourself. I know in my first attempts I got stuck in the trap of over programming legs because I wanted to get stronger and recover from my surgery. It’s much easier to prescribe exercise for one of your athlete’s because you know what they need and you aren’t concerned if they don’t like those exercises, but when you do that for yourself it’s hard to separate that bias of not liking certain things. So it all comes back to asking for help and utilizing the knowledge and to not be afraid of what they will think. If they are a good coach they will be supportive and constructive and if they decide to rip you and your program apart, they might be a bit of an asshole and you probably should find some other coaches to surround yourself with.

Thanks for reading and if you have had some similar experiences as a coach or want to share something I didn’t touch upon, leave a comment on Facebook or send me an email. I’m always open to connecting and collaborating with other coaches.
Be Battle Ready

Sebastian Pearson