14 things I am not as your Strength Coach

Posted: June 3, 2015 in From my vantage point
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Many athletes, sports coaches, and administrators have a wrong notion of what a Strength and Conditioning Coach is. This makes them set wrong expectations when working with a Strength and Conditioning coach. Here is a personal point of view on the description of what a Strength and Conditioning Coach is NOT. Of course there are always personal differences and some are due to institutional policies. But whether or not I am working for an institute or as a freelance Strength & Conditioning Coach, I do not agree with providing services beyond the scope of my specialization. I respect my profession and that of others. I expect other professionals to do the same and stop trying to be a strength coach if they are not qualified with credentials, skills, and experiences.

 

Usually here in Asia, only scholarship athletes  in a sports institute have access to the services of a strength and conditioning department. If you are one, make the most out of your training time. Learn everything you can since only a privileged few are given the chance to train and learn in sports institutes. You would be lucky if you can avail of the services of an experienced strength coach. Others would have to hire their own Strength Coach and this would be short term arrangements depending on the goals and their paying power. Some fitness enthusiasts who can afford will benefit much if they hire a Strength Coach to work with them in their lifting skills.

 

Related Post: Strength and Conditioning Coach…  What???

 

To have realistic expectations, here are 14 descriptions of what a  Strength and Conditioning Coach is NOT:

 

  1. I am not your personal trainer

I am your Strength Coach. My job is to coach you in lifting barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, and your bodyweight so that you will be stronger, more powerful, and less prone to injury compared to your previously untrained self. My job is not to make you look good although you will have that chiseled look as a training by product in some instances.

 

  1. I am not a salesman

In the Sports Institute, I train athletes. They are not clients. I do not get paid by the number of athletes I work with. I get paid the same amount even if I train 0 or 100 athletes in a day. I was hired because of my professional qualifications, knowledge, attitude, skills, and experience working with the best athletes of a country preparing for top level competitions. I would do my job as efficiently as I can and, depending on how the management runs the institute, I may be decked with one athlete on any given time or 30 plus junior athletes with varying levels of athletic development. This makes me change training approach so as to cope with the load but being decked with too much athletes to coach at a given time lowers my attention time for each athlete. So remember, I do not need to sell my services to clients. So do not expect me to go chasing after you so I can train you. You chase your dreams as an athlete.

If I am working for myself, I would not train everybody. I would train people who will benefit with what I have to offer.

 

  1.  I am not your masseur

I can show you how to stretch yourself but I won’t stretch you. It is an insult to your abilities if I would treat you like a baby. You can seek the services of the masseur if you want to be stretched or want a massage. They do it a lot better than me since that is their specialization, that is where they are trained and most of all, that is their job.

 

  1. I am not your psychologist

If you are having a bad day, or fought with your boyfriend, or is simply not in the mood to train, do not let it affect your training. It will only make things a lot worst. You are given the rare opportunity to be a representative of your country in the sporting arena and it is your responsibility to train on your training schedule and be the best that you can be. You are also being given a lot of support including the services of qualified and experienced professionals who expect that you, at least, have the character of someone willing to improve. Act like a responsible person who people depend upon. So do not come to me expecting me to listen to your personal problems if it is time for you to train. I am here to show you the way how to train for a certain goal and it is up to you to follow. I expect a lot of professionalism from you. If you come to the gym just for compliance, I would notice it and it does affect my attitude too. I do not like wasting my time with people who do not value my time or theirs.

You might say I am impersonal but I learned my lessons: people take advantage of you when you are nice. And they always expect you to bend and accommodate their tardiness and lame excuses because you are simply nice. I would not want to act like a parent to you but I hate tolerating bad behaviour. If I let you go away with it without a word, it simply means you were successful in destroying my interest in figuring out how to help you perform better.

 

  1. I am not your nanny or your maid.

On our first training session, I would orient you to put the things that you used back to their proper place. Initially I would help you load up your bar so you can learn the proper way of doing it. But it is your responsibility to clean up your mess. I know you will see a lot of other athletes who are just so lazy, irresponsible, and vain who would go across the gym to pick up a dumbbell just to use it in front of a mirror and then drop it after each set. It is your choice if you want to follow their example. If you do, you will give me the impression that you are a lazy stinking a____l_. If you want to keep dropping the dumbbells, please aim for your toes. Thank you.

 

  1. I am not your secretary

Prior to our first training session, I would have informed you or your sports coach our training schedule and we have agreed on it. I understand that if you are not a full time athlete, you may not be able to comply with all the schedules. But if you are training full time, there should be no reason to be late or absent from training. Be late or absent often and I would lose interest in coaching you the best I can. I would be happier if you just don’t show up…ever. I will still get paid anyway, while you will remain weak and ugly. It is also your responsibility to keep your training log and to record your training. Do not expect me to remember all your previous loads.

  1. I am not your genie even if you call yourself Alladin

We will try our best to maximize the expression of your genetic potential. But remember, trying to be what you are not takes a lot of effort, determination and luck.

If you are not born with predominantly fast twitch muscle fibers, do not aspire to be a sprinter. Anyway, talent identification systems, your coaches, and honest observation would tell you if you have a great potential in your sport of choice. You and I should be pragmatic and work with your weaknesses so that they are minimized while we try to achieve small goals at a time. Ask your sports coach how to adapt a certain sports skill or technique for your condition. Do not expect to walk in the gym, tell me your wishes, and walk out biting your gold medal if you do not even have the determination to sleep early and get up early.

 

  1. I am not your sports coach

No matter how much we train in the gym if you do not practice your own sport, you will not improve your sports skills unless you are a weightlifter, a powerlifter, or a kettlebell athlete. Strength Training and Conditioning is supplemental training and not your main training. Do not use me as an excuse to avoid training with your sports coach either.

 

  1. I am not your spotter

Do not get into the habit of having a spotter all the time. Try to work on your lifting confidence. I will spot you if you are new and still learning or if you are lifting near maximal to maximal load. Other than that I would spot you if I don’t trust you to know well enough to lift safely but I won’t lift the weight for you for the whole set.

 

  1. I am not your personal assistant

A soldier who goes to the battlefield but forgets to bring his gun with him is as good as dead. Come to the gym well prepared with proper training attire. If you forgot your access card or your training attire, go get them. Do not ask me if I have spare shirt or shorts, I do not want somebody’s sweat soaking my clothes. You can use and keep my toothbrush too if you want.

  1. I will not be the one to compete for you

This is a hard fact: you are ultimately responsible for your life. Other people will not live your life for you. Same in strength training: you are shown the way but it is up to you to follow. Passing all the responsibility to me won’t make you a better athlete, it only makes you an irresponsible person undeserving of respect.

 

  1. I am not your physician

If you are sick or injured, go to the Sports Medicine department and consult the doctor. Then show me a note from them when you resume training with me so I know how to direct your training. Do not consult me when you are sick, consult the right person. Only assholes pretend to want to train when they are sick yet they would be late or absent from training when they are in good health.

 

  1. I am not your cheering squad

You are the one who should motivate yourself to train, if you cannot motivate yourself to train, better think of a different career. But expect positive and negative feedback from me regarding your lifts. The person more interested in training for your improvement should be you, not me, not your parents.

 

  1. I am not your magician

Adaptation from training takes time. Learning a lift takes time. Positive results do happen but not like as if it were effortlessly done by magic. My magic wand is a 20kg bar with revolving sleeve and my magic ball is made of steel not crystal and it has a handle. Most people call it a kettlebell. Rub the magic dust on your hands, it will make you do wonderful things. Its called magnesia or simply chalk.


Learning what to expect from a Strength Coach helps you avoid unrealistic expectations. It also lets you maximize the services and you will know how to Train Better, Live Better!

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