What Makes a Good Strength & Conditioning Coach?

While the internet is an extremely useful and efficient way to get information, it is also a haven for fakes and phonies who have not spent a sufficient amount of time “in the trenches” to call themselves an expert.  Sorry kids, but posting a video on youtube of the new exercise you learned trolling the internet hardly qualifies you to call yourself an expert.  Although I regularly cook dinner for my family, I will not be approaching the Food Network any time soon for my own show because I am far from an expert in culinary arts.  Although I can follow a recipe or “wing it” in the kitchen, to be one of the best at anything usually entails some type of academic preparation as well as tons of practical experience (we are talking years) before you even think about calling yourself an expert.

 With all this being said, here are ten things that I believe make a good strength and conditioning coach.

  1.  Good coaches know the secret is in the chef, not the ingredients.  Just because you know what movements and exercises other coaches are using does not mean you can coach them.  There is an art to knowing how much of this and how much of that to put onto the training plate to make all of the ingredients blend…and it takes years to perfect.
  2.  Good coaches know that they must be able to competently demonstrate anything they expect their athletes or clients to do.  If you cannot demo it, do not prescribe it…it just makes you look foolish when you are stumbling over your own words and making up every excuse in the book why are unable to execute it.
  3.  Good coaches do not write workouts, they write programs.  They do not think on a daily basis, but a weekly, monthly and yearly basis.  Training is a process and it is important to always see the bigger picture. 
  4.  Good coaches know the training process goes something like this:  evaluate the trainee, design the program, implement the stimulus, recover, and repeat.  In addition, the evaluation process is ongoing because that is part of coaching.
  5.  Good coaches know that you should not train through an injury, but around it.
  6.  Good coaches know that it is important to teach people to auto regulate.  This allows trainees to understand that they will not always have their best day in the gym every day…and that’s ok.
  7.  Good coaches understand that four weeks to ripped abs is $19.95 worth of garbage.  Using a two week crash diet (aka starvation) and running yourself into the ground is not training.  Training is a process based on logical progression.  Anyone ever heard of the word commitment?
  8.  Good coaches know that a strength training session does not need to make you tired or induce vomiting to be effective.  Stimulate don’t annihilate.  Conditioning is a different story altogether.
  9.  Good coaches know how to communicate effectively.  They will have an arsenal of cues, both audible and visual, in order to accomplish the task at hand and get any trainee to be successful.
  10.  Good coaches know that squats are not bad for your knees, deadlifts are not bad for your back, and military presses are not bad for your shoulders.  There are not bad exercises.  There are exercises that are bad for some trainees due to factors such as orthopedic issues, training history, etc.

About dcoffin280

I am a Boston based strength and conditioning coach.

Posted on February 1, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Wow! Very wise words indeed! Love it
    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

  2. I like this. As it turns out, what makes a good strength coach is also what makes a good mentor of any sort, be it teacher, coach, or (dare I say) parent…the importance of applying developmentally appropriate stress and then allowing for adequate recovery; the teaching of self-regulation; utilizing good communication skills; being engaged for the long-haul, with an eye on long-term, big picture…Like the tag-line says, training for life and sport…

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