A couple weekends ago, I was fortunate enough to attend Joe Dowdell and Mike Roussell’s Peak Training and Diet Design Seminar at Peak Performance NYC. I had planned on doing a recap of the event, but my friend Tony Gentilcore beat me to it. Check out his re-cap here: Learnification: My Weekend at Peak Performance.
Kale: the fuel for Tony’s big
He also did a preview to the review, which you can find here: The Preview to the Review of the Peak Training and Diet Program Design Seminar
At the end of the 2-day event, Joe and Mike invited me to sit on their expert panel for a Q&A with the attendees. It was an honor to be up there with guys like Tony, John Romaniello, Jim “Smitty” Smith from the Diesel Crew, and Dr. Perry Nickelston.
Emily always says I have no sense of fashion, but I was the ONLY one that color-coordinated their beard with their shirt.
At one point, someone asked a question about what advice we would give trainers and strength coaches that really want to be successful in the industry. This was a great question, and the responses the other guys gave were outstanding. One of the points I really tried to emphasize is that it’s important to become a good COACH.
If you’ve read any of my stuff in the past, you know that I place a premium on staying current with relevant research and innovative training methods. I also think it’s important to test new things to ensure that we’re constantly finding improved ways to train our athletes and clients. Because of the internet-driven gold rush, there seems to be an ongoing contest of who knows more, and less emphasis is being placed on how to actually coach athletes. This is creating an increasingly large discrepancy between intellectual and inter-personal knowledge. In other words, there are really bright people in the training industry that aren’t great at implementing everything they know. As Mike Boyle always says, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Another trend, one that I doubt will ever disappear, is that strength coaches only want to work with elite athletes. I made a comment during the expert Q&A that from a coaching standpoint I don’t do anything with our elite hockey players. That’s not really true. Our high level hockey players require a more in-depth focus on assessment and personalized program design. These athletes have put a ton of miles on their body, and tend to have greater compensation patterns and injury-prevention concerns than players competing at lower levels. My point was that elite level athletes are extremely neurologically efficient, and tend to do things pretty well with very little coaching. Many already have a few years of training experience under their belt and have been taught the basics of lifting. There is a lot to be gained from coaching elite level athletes, but it’s certainly not the best way to learn to coach. I recognize there is an assumption that the best training professionals are working in professional sports, and therefore working with high level athletes is an indication of competency. There are, in fact, many extremely bright and able coaches in professional sports. But not EVERY person that works in pro sports is not the best; many networked their way into those positions.
On the other side of the athletic continuum are the motor morons. These are the kids that move like shit, have never been taught anything (at least not correctly), and go blank when you try to cue them on anything. Some of these kids may even have pretty well-developed skill sets in their sport of emphasis, and therefore are successful despite a lack of any foundation of athleticism (which invariably catches up with them in the form of poor performance and/or injury). If a coach can get THESE kids to perform exercises correctly and move properly, THAT is the ultimate sign of competency. It’s the experience you develop working with these kids that teaches you how to use different language to make each individual understand what you’re looking for, and how to look for and correct common movement impairments/abnormalities. In other words, this is how you learn to coach effectively.
Coaching is an art, and one that needs to be refined for different training environments. I tell the coaches on our staff at Endeavor that they should try to think of ways to teach every exercise we do in 10s or less and use language that they can use to cue athletes from across a room. The textbook approach of walking each athlete through every exercise step-by-step would result in 4-hour training sessions. It’s not practical. Give the athlete enough to get started, make sure they understand the postures associated with proper exercise technique that purvey most exercises and let them get started. Not every athlete makes the same mistake and telling every athlete every step of every exercise is excessive. Let them try it, see where they err, and correct accordingly.
If you’re a young coach, don’t be in a rush to work with professional athletes; be in a rush to become an outstanding coach. We need more great coaches at the youth level anyway, but this is certainly the best place to refine your coaching ability. If you want to become a good coach, find a strength and conditioning coach that seems to “get it” in terms of understanding proper movement, that works with a high volume of athletes, and ask to intern or volunteer. If you’re looking, I highly recommend getting in touch with people like Tony and Eric Cressey (Cressey Performance in Hudson, MA), Mike Boyle (MBSC in Woburn, MA), Brijesh Patel (Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT), Jeff Oliver (Holy Cross in Worcester, MA), and Robert dos Remedios (College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, CA).
To your success,
Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.