Being a good strength coach is what many in the field aspire to be. Of course, we all want to be the best, but below are just a few things I think you should knock off before you even think about the training part. Don’t get me wrong, we can’t check all of these off and then go out and make these kids do backflips with barbells on their back. Certainly, we need to be competent in the training aspect as well.
Every time I hear my athletes and their parents speak about my facility they never talk about the training first. They talk about how fun it is to come workout, being on the Instagram stories, or how much they appreciate me coming to their games. I truly believe if you develop a solid culture, it will keep the athletes wanting to come back - regardless of the training (which I hope is quality).
Below I wrote a list of the first 10 things that came to mind when I thought about this all. I am sure you can add more, and I would appreciate if you did!
1. Dress Professionally: I am not saying you have to be wearing a collared shirt and khakis, but I think we all agree you shouldn’t look like a bum. Usually, I wear a nice fitted t-shirt and shorts - this is what I recommend to my coaches and interns.
2. Speak Well: Especially to parents, we want to make sure we speak with respect and care. No reason to be using slang and curses. This also goes for the tone of your voice, I generally speak a little softer to parents, but to the kids, I am much more strict with my voice. Don’t get me wrong, I joke with the kids and keep it light, but always keep it under control.
3. Care About Them: This is the easiest part if you love your job. Every kid that comes in, I do my absolute best to make sure they are comfortable and love what they are doing here. Also, a simple text here and there to check in on them goes a long way.
4. Speak To The Parents: This is big. Having a solid relationship with the parents will make it easier for them to trust you and everything you are doing for their child. At the end of the day they are paying you for your services and you want them to know they are receiving the best product out there.
5. Have Passion: Nobody likes to workout in a boring environment. When I go around coaching my athletes, I am constantly motivating each one of them. This might be me yelling and cheering them on or simply saying a few motivational words to spark them during a set. No matter your coaching style, you need to show you have passion and motivate the athletes through the session.
6. Coach First, Friend Second: This is important because sometimes when you give a kid an inch they take a mile. What I mean by this is an athlete talking about inappropriate things, joking too much, or anything else. This is just my opinion and others may be fine with this, but I have always made it a precedent that the athletes knew this.
7. Go To Their Games: This may be one of my favorite parts of being a strength coach. I love seeing a kid put a ton of work into the weight room, on the practice field, and then kill it in a game! It is a great feeling to see them succeed because of all of their hard work and dedication.
8. Don’t Piggyback On Their Success: This has become a big pet peeve of mine. I hate coaches that post about their athlete’s success and talk as if it was because of them. NO. We as strength coaches are a supplement to their sport. We help limit the risk of injury and improve athletic performance through strength and conditioning. We are not the sole reason for an athlete succeeding on the field. It’s okay to applaud their achievements, but don’t make them your own!
9. Don’t Lecture Them: These kids do not come here to get lectured by you. Sometimes we can end up in a position where we feel obligated to give advice. I find it better to always let them know what I think, but make it clear I am not lecturing them.
10. Make Cool Handshakes: This can be anything that is fun. Like I said, in the beginning, you want to develop culture kids like to be in. Kids like to goof off and have fun. No reason to be a strict grumpy coach. Keeps things light and the athletes enjoying their time here.
I hope you learned something from my thoughts on being a good strength coach. Again, this comes before all the science and what not. Develop the right culture first and everything will fall into place.