20 Random Things I've Learned from Being a Pro Level Strength Coach

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I wrote this article a few years back and it's the most popular article I have ever written and it's not even close. These are some lessons and realizations that I made during my time working with the Los Angeles Lakers and Arizona Diamondbacks. I believe my biggest asset as a Strength & Conditioning Coach is my ability to be objective about the world and see any situation for what it truly is. No bias. No ego. I hope this list helps you do the same.

1. Don’t tell anyone what to do. This is not a dictatorship. This is and always will be a democracy. Lots of give and take. 

2. This job is not about you. You are in the service industry. Serve

3. You’re working for someone’s childhood dream. I always felt a great deal of responsibility when I worked in the Minor Leagues. Every kid you work with is trying to fulfill a dream they've had since they were a small boy and they are trusting you with that dream. It's unacceptable to half-ass you effort with that on the line.

4. Building relationships is the biggest thing you can ever do with your athletes. This. Is. Everything.

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5. There are a million ways to skin the cat. There are a million different systems, modalities, philosophies and methods. None of them are all right or all wrong. The best coaches pick and choose from all of them.

6. Every strength coach thinks that every other strength coach is an "idiot." By far the worst part of the industry.

7. The most glamorous part of being a pro strength coach is being able to tell people you are a pro strength coach. Making coffee, little sleep and tagging luggage at the hotel at 4am in the snow in Toronto are all “perks” of the job. It’s not as glamorous as you think.

8. Pro athlete's have an idea of what works for them. That matters. If you think it works, it probably does.

9. They are full of dysfunction. 99.999999999% of your athletes will never be “neutral.” Providing resiliency to that dysfunction is your job. Plus, that dysfunction, dysfunctioned them all the way to the pros. So how much does your “neutrality” matter.

10. Recovery is 90% of the battle. Playing every night. Changing time zones. Hideous sleep schedule. Put down the barbell and take a nap.

11. You’re going to be wrong….A LOT. Simple enough.

12. Trusting the right people is a big freaking deal. When I decided to be a strength coach, I trusted Brijesh Patel, my college strength coach. I had no idea he was good. I liked him. He seemed good. But I didn’t know that he was as good as he is. If I had never left my first college and I trusted that strength coach, he would have probably sent me on a completely different career trajectory. And believe me, I was ready to go full-steam ahead into Bicep Curl City. Coach B will confirm that. You have to be EXTREMELY careful with who you place your trust in. They could make or break your career before it ever gets started.

13. You have to be able to think on the fly. I cannot even begin to tell you how many programs I’ve written and the second I’m showing it to my guys I instantly hate everything about it. I also cannot even begin to tell you the amount of ridiculous reasons that I have had to change, scrap or completely re-do my plans. Figure it out, NOW!

14. Nobody will ever acknowledge your work. Deal with it.

15. You’re not a big deal. Who’s your favorite team? Do you know their who their strength coach is? Do you really care if they get fired?

16. You will never know it all. I once sat down to learn the ins and outs of the visual system. It took me about fifteen minutes to realize that was not going to happen and I should find someone who has devoted their life to vision.

17. If you want to get to the top, you have to go take it. If you’re sitting at home watching House of Cards and waiting for the phone to ring…get comfortable.

18. Understanding the brain is very important. Ask yourself why! The brain is king in the body. Everything you do in the weight room is a conversation with the brain. If the brain is in charge of the body and you are in charge of that body, shouldn’t you learn about the brain?

19. You should always have a reason for everything you do in the weight room. There should be no randomness. No fillers. No warm-ups because that’s what everybody else does. Everything should have a purpose. If it doesn’t, leave it out.

20. Your warm-up program is not the difference between winning the World Series and not. It's just not.

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