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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Juggernaut Article - Coaching

5 Habits Of Effective Coaches

By Greg Robins | In Sports Training | on April 29, 2015 
Unfortunately, I have found that many professionals in the sports performance industry separate themselves far too distantly from the last word in most of their titles: COACH.

While JTS has become a forum largely filled with information on strength sports and the close approximations, I do not consider myself a lifter or an athlete. I am, and will always be, a coach.  While you may not find yourself in a similar role, I do believe you will find the following information pertinent to your role as a contributing member of society. There is a shortage of quality leaders, and I challenge you to think about how you might apply the following to your day-to-day relationships.
Greg Robins is a competitive lifter, but a coach first and foremost.
Greg Robins is a competitive lifter, but a coach first and foremost.
Lastly, I find this information timely given that JTS will soon welcome their inaugural class of interns.

Recently, we hired a terrific individual to coach at our facility. Oddly enough, I found myself writing a letter of recommendation for this person a few weeks prior.  Our coaching staff made it a point to sway our facility owners to hire this individual, even though at the time we probably didn’t need another coach on the floor.  I would like to begin this article with a glimpse into this letter. The character traits described must be present before any talk of effective coaching habits can ensue.
I have changed the audience to be more general.

I am fortunate that my role at Cressey Sports Performance has allowed me to mentor over 70 interns in three years; people whom I view to be the potential leaders of the strength and conditioning world in years to come. This, coupled with my nearly 10 years of experience in the industry, and five years in a military leadership role, has given me a unique perspective in assessing the quality of both an individual at a personal, as well as professional, level. It speaks highly that upon requesting my recommendation I didn’t even have to bat an eye before willingly agreeing to give him my highest accolades. Here’s why.

Having had the experience of working in both the college sector and private sector of performance enhancement, I know that the right person for this position must be: a talented coach, eager student, and quality person.

A talented coach is a great mind, a great teacher, and a willing subject.

A coach must first be an excellent teacher. It is fair to say that the greatest amount of knowledge is rather useless if it cannot be applied effectively to the athlete. The quality in which the exercise is carried out is far more important than the quality of the plan or program laid out. The best can supply both an intelligent plan and the means in which to carry it out correctly; this is a rare combination.
A quality coach has a vast amount of his or her own ‘in the gym’ experience. I cannot stress enough how important this is to the success of a program, and to a coach in this industry. Too often I see coaches who do not walk the walk. Hiring anyone short of someone who has put his or her own time in learning first hand how to move, and perform better, is a grave mistake. One can coach and teach because they continually apply lessons learned for themselves first. Helping people learn anything is about knowing how to create context. If you as a coach can create context, that alone makes you a stand-out candidate.

I’ve already commented on this in depth here at JTS, but it bears repeating: Great coaches operate with a growth mindset. This is crucial to being successful in rapidly changing, and improving industry. You must be a student of strength and conditioning, willing to go the extra mile to better your understanding of human performance. The college and professional sector in particular is inundated with coaches who do not challenge the status quo, both within the system they are in, and in the field itself. No program should want to hire a follower; they should want leaders. Leaders put in the time to learn, and to find solutions for how to make a system better. Coaches are leaders.

More than anything a true coach is a quality person. They are genuine, honest, and driven. I ultimately evaluate our interns not on my perception of their character, but our athlete’s perspective. A coach approaches each athlete with a smile, and personable tone, genuinely engaging them with interest and warmth.

The qualities described above lay the foundation for being a coach. These items must be addressed first, and in many cases they cannot be taught. Rather, they are a question of an individual’s motivation, make-up, and concern for improving the performance and lives of the athletes they are fortunate enough to work with. 

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