Woodshed 10–Coaching

Coaching, strength coaching–this is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, second only to being a dad (although similar in many ways).  It’s also fraught with roadblocks.  We’re coming up on our tenth anniversary and it never gets much easier, but that’s the beauty part.  Every day is a chance to be outstanding and forego the path of least resistance for the road less travelled.

Coaches: are you strong enough, are you confident enough to tell your lifter to take weight off the bar so the reps are better and help build a better base?  Are you brave enough to resist the morass of failed reps? Are you willing to stay away from the self-aggrandizement of shouting “do it again?” instead of coaching the work in front of you?

Coaches: are you kind enough, are you approachable enough to realize that some days–maybe many days–it’s not even about the weight on the bar but about taking the cotton out of your ears and putting it into your mouth so that your athletes know they are in a safe space and that you are here to listen, and then act together?  Are you adept enough to deviate from plan when appropriate?

Coaches: are you okay with saying no?  You have to do that sometimes, and you won’t be the most popular person in the room when you do.  When someone wants to diet but needs nutrition and sustenance first, will you say no or not yet?  When someone wants to grind themselves into paste but their workouts hurt because their form needs help, will you fix that first and show them how to earn righteous soreness and enervation?  Those skills last a lifetime, and you may not be remembered the way you’d like, but you will have done the right thing.

Coaches: when your athletes trust you with their souls and their bodies, will you remain professional?  Hard workouts, sweat, extreme effort–these are building blocks and common experiences, not invitations to impropriety.  When you hear or read someone making an inappropriate comment or focusing on another’s appearance instead of their work, will you say “we don’t do that here?”

Coaches: will you be aggressive learners?  Will you learn from running coaches, lifting coaches, scientists, poets, the counter guy at your favorite coffee spot?  Will you always ask yourselves how you can be better, how you can do more, how you can share your souls and your experiences with your people?  Will you resist the urge to wall yourselves off from disciplines and voices that don’t dovetail perfectly with yours?  Will you listen, ask yourselves questions, and then do the next right thing for your people?

Coaches: will you try to be excellent, to be outstanding every single day?  Will you forgive yourselves when you fall short and try to do better tomorrow?  Will you point your compass towards true north?  And will you ask for help if you’re not there yet?

Coaches: will you help?  Will you always remember that the job is helping?  That it is caring, listening, acting, and every single day…helping.

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