Home Posts tagged "Strength and Conditioning Coach"

The Most Important Coaching Responsibility

We have an 11-week-old baby in the house, and my wife is breastfeeding her. We also have a twin four-year-old daughters. A few weeks ago, I found them both pretend breastfeeding their toy babies because - obviously - they want to be like Mommy.

A few weeks before that, I took those same four-year-olds out to breakfast while Mommy slept in after a sleep-deprived night with the newborn. As we were leaving the restaurant, one of my daughters jumped up and grabbed my arm as I was carrying hot coffee. I spilled a little bit of it, and muttered, "Dammit." In the car on the ride home, her sister began singing, "Dammit, Dammit, Dammit" in her car seat. I'm sure a lot of the parents out there can relate to the shock value of the first time your kids swear because they heard it from you. Eye-opening, to say the least.

This isn’t specific to parenting or my kids, either. I can remember wanting to do whatever my older brother did, and as a result, falling for a lot of jokes growing up. When I was in eighth grade, and he was a senior in high school, I would’ve done anything he told me to do (and often did).

Athletic companies pay high-profile athletes to wear their shoes and clothing because younger athletes are impressionable and will, in turn, want to wear them, too. The Kardashians can sell just about anything to their followers. Advertising wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for impressionable consumers, and young kids and teenagers are far and away the most impressionable. In fact, current models suggest that the brain isn't fully mature until age 25. I can even look back on things I purchased when I was 30, and wonder what the heck I was thinking.

Advertising can be both intentional and unintentional, favorable and unfavorable. The Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry reported that "the overall suicide rate among 10- to 17-year-olds increased significantly in the month immediately following the release of 13 Reasons Why" (a Netflix series about suicide). There's even research demonstrating that "including a patient's photo with imaging exam results may enable a more meticulous reading from the radiologist interpreting the images, as well as a more personal and empathetic approach." Even brilliant minds can be unknowingly swayed by outside messages, and that's on top of their intrinsic confirmation biases, too.

Where am I going with all this? We have a lot of coaches reading this article. And, whether they appreciate it or not, these coaches are some of the most profound influences on young athletes’ development. Whether coaches like it or not, they are constant walking advertisements for what young athletes should say, do, and look like. And, I’d argue that they’re among the most impactful advertisements because of a) the number of exposures they have to athletes and b) their positions of authority.

I know of training facilities that market heavily to young athletes in spite of the fact that their coaches’ social media presences - and even their facility walls - glorify alcohol consumption. At the very time when many of these teenagers' parents are fretting over whether these impressionable kids will go off to college and make irresponsible decisions surrounding alcohol, these kids are being bombarded with pro-alcohol messages by some of the most respected people in their lives - in what should be an unconditionally positive environment. Mix in some unedited music with explicit lyrics and racially offensive language, and you're not exactly making a case for being a strong influence on kids socially as you make them stronger physically.

Taking it a step further, I'll take some heat for this, but...

[bctt tweet="It is fundamentally indefensible to coach a team of impressionable kids while you have a wad of tobacco in your mouth."]

We can all debate how impactful these messages are, but at the end of the day, it's hard to deny the facts that a) kids are very impressionable and b) these messages certainly aren't yielding any positive outcomes.

All too often, coaches think that the most important decisions are about periodization, conditioning, pregame warm-ups, or some other X and O. The truth is that good coaching starts with making good decisions yourself and modeling those decisions to the athletes in front of you. Much like people need to be healthy humans before they become high-performing athletes, coaches needs to model behavior to that promotes healthy decision making off the field before they can work to optimize performance on the field.

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15 Lessons on Physical Preparation – Installment 2

Today, Tim Geromini and I present the second half of our "notes" on Mike Robertson's new DVD set, Physical Preparation 101. In case you miss it, be sure to check out Installment 1. Here are eight more key takeaways:

8. Coach the heck out of the set-up.

It's very difficult to properly perform an exercise if you don't set up in the best position possible. If you watch Mike during the hands-on portion of this seminar, he is constantly adjusting the demonstrator until they are in the exact position he prefers. Often, your clients have the strength and mobility to perform exercises correctly, but are not in the best position to do so. It may only be a small tweak here or there, but subtle adjustments can make a huge difference. If it adds one minute on to your session, it's a minute worth paying for.

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9. Remember that clients are where they are right now.

One of the most difficult aspects of coaching can be to hold clients back when they really want to do more. I always prefer the clients who want to challenge themselves over the ones you have to convince to train harder. However, emphasizing quality over quantity isn’t always easy. Make sure you let the client know we are looking for quality reps.

10. You can have a template, but treat everybody as an individual.

Mike’s R7 approach is a template, but all clients are treated individually. Too often in the strength and conditioning industry we see cookie cutter programs that are a "one size fits all" approach. For instance, those with flat thoracic spines and an extended low back are treated the same as someone with significant kyphosis and flat lumbar spine. A template serves as an organized structure for which individuals can improve. Sure, everybody who trains at IFAST will have the R7 template as part of their program, but the exercises are tailored to each individual.

11. Be an efficient coach.

When you are working with a client, you should a) name the exercise, b) describe why they’re doing it, c) demonstrate the lift, and d) coach the lift. These can all be accomplished in under 20 seconds and makes all the difference. When a client knows why they are doing an exercise, they now have ownership of it. You’ll also save yourself a lot of time in the future if the client knows the name of each exercise so they don’t have to keep asking you.

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12. Coaching angles matter.

If you master the sagittal plane, the frontal and transverse planes are easier to coach. Make sure you coach from 90-degree angles; there is a lot you can miss if you aren’t in the best position to coach. The "90-degree rule" also tells us that there are times when two coaches (one front/back and one left/right) can get the coaching job done faster than just one.

13. Think of yourself as a doctor of exercise.

When you’re a qualified expert, people come to you because you’re the best. Now, this also takes into consideration the work you are willing to put in to improve your assessment and programming process. However, you should understand we are not just writing down numbers on a sheet of paper and hoping it'll work. You put in the time to learn the client’s movement patterns and compensations.

14. Remember that aerobic work has its place.

Cardiovascular health and parasympathetic dominance are important goals in any training (and recovery) program. People are far too sympathetic dominant, essentially in today’s upbeat world, where there is no "off" switch. Mike cites the equation of "Anaerobic threshold – resting heart rate = aerobic window." In other words (and quite obviously), the higher your resting heart rate, the greater your opportunity for improvements. In recent years, though, everyone seemed to want to just push the left side of the equation (anaerobic threshold) with loads of interval training.

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If you can widen the aerobic window, you’ve done a lot of good things for the client even beyond just cardiovascular health. High intensity anaerobic exercise is built from a low intensity aerobic foundation, so get your "easy" gains first. Over the long haul, when you are more resistant to fatigue, you can handle more volume and recover easier.

15. Make sure clients can keep the pelvis square as they load the hips.

The biggest benefit to split-stance and single-leg work is turning the right things on and turning the wrong things off. Most people look like wounded animals when performing single-leg work, but those who perform single-leg and split-stance exercises correctly are generally improving hip mobility and strength - and most importantly, doing so without compensation.

As a friendly reminder, Physical Preparation 101 is now on sale, and it's an excellent resource for your training library. You can learn more HERE.

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The Most Important Three Words in Strength and Conditioning

From 2007 to 2009, I was a big sleeper stretch guy. All our throwing athletes did this stretch at the end of their training sessions, and we meticulously coached the technique to make sure it accomplished what we *hoped* it would accomplish. I featured it in the program in my first book, Maximum Strength, and this picture of me even shows up in the first row of photos on Google Images if you search for "sleeper stretch."

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Then, in March 2010, I attended my first Postural Restoration Institute (PRI) event and "saw the light." I left the course with some great new positional breathing drills that often delivered quick results in terms of improving shoulder internal rotation - without having to actually stretch the shoulder, a joint that doesn't really like to be stretched. Looking back, we were probably trying to "stretch" out an alignment issue - and that never ends well.

We've since progressed our approach, complementing PRI exercises with thoracic spine mobility drills and manual therapy at the shoulder in those who present with true internal rotation deficits. Only after they've still come up short following these initiatives do we actually encourage stretching of the glenohumeral (ball and socket) joint. And, even when that happens, it's gentle side-lying cross-body stretching with the scapula stabilized; this has proven safer and more beneficial for improving internal rotation.

The three preceding paragraphs about my experiences with the sleeper stretch could really be summed up in three words:

                           I was wrong.

It's not the only time I've been wrong, either.

I wish I'd done more barefoot work and ankle mobility training with the basketball players with whom I worked early in my career.

I wish I'd not just assumed that all athletes needed more thoracic mobility when, in fact, there are quite a few who have hypermobile t-spines.

I wish I'd focused more on the benefits of correct breathing - especially full exhalation - with athletes sooner in my career.

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In my own powerlifting career, I wish I'd spent more time free squatting and less time box squatting. And, I wish I'd competed "raw" instead of with powerlifting equipment.

I've made some errors in the ways I evaluated, trained, and programmed for athletes. I've made dumb decisions in both my business and personal life. However, at the end of the day, I can attribute a lot of my improvements as a person and a professional to the fact that I was completely comfortable admitting, "I was wrong." Heck, I'm so comfortable recognizing my mistakes that I've written entire posts on the subject!

This is trait just about every successful strength and conditioning coach generally shares. Humility is an essential trait for personal and professional advancement, especially in a dynamic field like strength and conditioning where new research and training techniques emerge on a daily basis.

This isn't just limited to strength and conditioning, though. If you asks a lot of the best surgeons in the country, they'd admit that they were wrong in doing a lot of lateral release (knee) surgeries and thermal capsule (shoulder) shrinkage procedures earlier in their careers. And, they'd probably admit that they misdiagnosed a lot of cases of thoracic outlet syndrome as ulnar neuropathy. If they aren't willing to admit their past mistakes, you probably ought to find a different doctor.

If you're an athlete, the same can be said of seeking out a strength and conditioning coach. If the person writing your programs hasn't learned from his/her mistakes, are you really getting a "modern" or forward-thinking program that has been tested in the trenches? We've all seen those programs - both in training and rehabilitation - that have been photocopied so many times over the years that they're barely legible.

Likewise, if you're an up-and-coming strength and conditioning coach, you want to seek out mentors that'll admit their past mistakes and reflect on how they learned from them. Only then can they help you avoid making them, too. You're better off learning under someone who has 15 years of strength and conditioning experience than someone who has 15 years of the same year of experience.

Finally, if you're an established professional, the only way to grow is to get outside your comfort zone. Five years from now, if you're not looking back on your current approaches and wondering what the heck you were thinking, then you're stuck in the bubble on the left.

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You need to visit other facilities, talk with other coaches, and empower your employees/co-workers with a voice that challenges the norm. I learn a lot from my staff on a daily basis. And, looking back on that first PRI event I attended, I was the only "non-clinician" in the room. I was surrounded by PTs, PTAs, respiratory therapists, pelvic floor therapists, and ATCs. I got out of my element and it changed the course of my career dramatically.

Looking back on these experiences when I was clearly wrong, part of me wants to send individual apology notes to all the athletes I saw early in my career. By that same token, though, I feel like thank you notes might be more appropriate, as these mistakes played an essential role in my growth as a coach and person.

If you're looking for an up-to-date look on how we manage shoulders - including a look at identifying and addressing internal rotation deficits - be sure to check out my new resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

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5 Lessons on Coaching

Today, I've got a guest post from John O'Neil, who is wrapping up his internship at the new Cressey Sports Performance facility in Jupiter, FL this week. John brings an excellent perspective, having been a CSP athlete before entering the strength and conditioning field. Enjoy! -EC

Late in my senior year of college, I didn’t know what I would do next. I wasn’t passionate about my major- mathematics- and couldn’t see myself sitting in a cubicle crunching numbers. My main passion is strength and conditioning and I wanted to become a strength coach. I contacted everyone whom I regularly read to see if I could spend my internship with them, and I quickly realized that the industry is filled with people looking to help out. Todd Bumgardner offered me an internship and I got my introduction to coaching at Ranfone Training Systems in Hamden, CT. I was fortunate enough to go from a summer there to a fall internship at the new Cressey Sports Performance – Florida, where I continue my transition from S&C junkie to S&C coach.

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Here are some of the major takeaways I’ve had as I’ve gone from someone obsessed with the industry to someone actually in the industry:

1. You are a coach.

The most important thing I realized early on in my internships is that I was a coach, first and foremost. I needed to stop worrying about understanding PRI concepts when I wasn’t great at coaching a goblet squat. A basketball coach isn’t worrying about how his team can implement the triangle offense if his team can’t make a layup. During my first weekend at RTS, we hosted a Nick Winkelman seminar. Afterwards, I thanked Nick and told him I was less than a week in to my coaching career and that his cueing and motor learning lessons were stuff that I was looking forward to implementing. Nick responded by telling me that the most important thing at this stage of my career is to get great at coaching what you know, then expand how much you know. Your base of knowledge is only as useful as you can coach it.

JohnO


2. Understand your impact.

One conversation I had with Todd early in my internship has resonated with me throughout. “My greatest skill as a coach is my ability to relate to my athletes,” he said. It had nothing to do with the science-related knowledge he has gained over the years. As a coach, your most important role in working with youth athletes isn’t to make sure they can perform a half-kneeling chop correctly; it’s to make sure you’re having a positive influence on said athlete’s life. Most of the people you work with won’t make a living performing these movements and may not even be an athlete beyond high school. Make sure your athletes know you care about them as people first and athletes second.

3. Understand the level of your athlete.

A typical day at CSP could involve working with a 12 year old kid who has never lifted a weight, a MLB player, and a 50-year-old with a 9-to-5 job. Each of these people will need to be coached very differently, and it’s important not only to get great at coaching exercises but coaching to populations as well. The kid is much more likely to need hands-on attention (kinesthetic), the pro athlete probably just wants to see and do (visual), and the middle-aged person might just want to be told what to do (auditory). While these aren’t set in stone, being able to coach everything you coach in different styles is very important.

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4. Understand what kind of “vibe” do you give off.

Admittedly, this is an area in which I struggle, but have worked hard to improve. I’m an introvert by nature and don’t always convey the sense that I want to be where I am. Case in point, many of my girlfriend’s friends think I don’t like them because of the vibe I give off when I’m surrounded by them, which obviously isn’t the case. As evidenced by the energy that Mike, Todd, and Scott bring to the gym, everyone that trains at RTS knows their coaches want to be there, often times more than they do. Todd told me that I won’t get the results I want unless my clients know that I love this stuff as much as I do, and during my two internships it’s something I’ve been very conscious of. While I’ll never be a “rah-rah” style leader, I find it important to implement strategies to build rapport with every client and make sure they know that I want to be there. These are all simple, but easy to let slide. Tony Gentilcore’s blog posts on introverted coaches (here and here), as well as Miguel Aragoncillo’s Hard and Soft Skills of a Strength Coach are great reads that really explain these methods in depth.

5. You must have philosophical flexibility.

Both RTS and CSP share a common trait that I’m sure many in the industry do as well: they are constantly striving to get better as coaches as much as their athletes are striving to get better on the field. In my exit interview at RTS, Mike Ranfone said to me that their goal is not only to offer the best product they can at the time, but to insure that they will offer an even better product one year from now. At CSP, this is the same. Each of these places doesn’t have their system; they have a system that they believe to be the best they can give to the athletes at the current time.

[bctt tweet="Strength coaches aren’t reinventing the wheel; they're trying to make it spin better."]

While your core philosophy will remain the same – good functional movement is good functional movement, and your athletes will still be looking to get faster, stronger, and stay healthy – always be willing to look at new ideas and see how they can make your system better.

While I have learned a lot throughout my two internships, these are the main points that I will take with me wherever I wind up coaching in the future. I’ve stressed to myself to make sure that I realize that each hour I am in the gym is not my 6th, 7th, 8th… hour. Rather, it’s a certain athlete’s first, and I want to make sure that my presence there positively impacts their life. I’ve had a great time as an intern at both locations and would highly recommend going the internship route to anyone interested in becoming a coach.

About the Author

John O'Neil has be reached at joh.oneil@gmail.com, or you can follow him on Twitter.

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The Hard and Soft Skills of a Strength and Conditioning Coach

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance coach, Miguel Aragoncillo.

MA-Headshot

I haven’t always been "just" a strength coach. I’ve also done personal training, a fair bit of online writing, and have even stints of teaching dance to those willing to learn. The following is directed towards those looking to “advance” in the fitness and strength and conditioning fields. I have not worked in the collegiate strength and conditioning world, though, so take this with a grain of salt!

As I transitioned to the title of “strength coach,” I have started to associate the word “coach” with the word “leader.” The idea here is that – at the very least - there is a "need to lead" in the form of exercise to an individual or group of people.

Growing up, I wasn’t a leader by nature. I was shy, and lacked the confidence to do relatively basic things: like even just talking to people. I also wasn’t the best at sports, nor was I the strongest, fastest, or even the smartest at any given sport. However, I could study how the greats played, and from this mentality I understood that I could begin to develop myself. Some would sleep, but I would study, practice, and train, since I didn’t have any natural talent on which I could reliably lean to improve myself.

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With that said, here are some of my expectations and thoughts on what it means to be a coach in this industry.

Hard Skills

Understanding the basic fundamental movement patterns that are involved within a specific model or facilities movement philosophy.

First off, you won’t get to work in an ideal situation in any work environment.

Having the adaptability to understand varying philosophies of movement will allow you to determine what step to take next with a given exercise, along with a hierarchy of movement protocols.

Some coaches will always want to include power cleans in the beginning of their programs, but if you have pushback from the get-go, you might not have a job in the morning.

There are many things that you can learn from this not-so-ideal scenario:

1. Learn the best cues for how to coach the power clean (and other Olympic lifting variations).
2. Learn the regressions and progressions, along with the best programming of how to incorporate this specific item within a program.
3. If possible, it could lead to skills that can hypothetically separate you from a “on-paper” resume for your next position.

Identifying biomechanically incorrect positions and providing the “correct” position with which an athlete can excel - and coach it quickly.

In the past few years, I’ve had the fortune of watching friends, coaches, and trainers do what they do best: coach! This “skill” is often referred to as developing a “coach’s eye” for movement.

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If you don’t know your anatomy, get to studying. Admittedly, my intelligence is average as compared to others, so perhaps I overcompensate by staying up late reading these books and I have personally taken multiple classes of biology and anatomy - after my undergraduate career.

However, nothing you’ll learn in an anatomy class will replace the time you spend identifying aberrant movement patterns. With this in mind, no one expects you to take multiple anatomy classes or read some books after midnight on anatomy.

Here are some things you can do to improve your ability to coach exercises:

1. Coach anyone and everyone.

Let me clarify. You don’t need to start training a professional athlete to begin coaching. I’m sure your co-worker’s son would love to get trained at a reduced price. Heck, train the kid’s entire team! Train anyone, be professional, and overdeliver. You could be training the next Cy Young.

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2. Visit other coaches and trainers to understand how they coach exercises and program for athletes.

I remember reading from someone a lot smarter than me that they bought a coach lunch to understand how that coach got his athlete’s strong. So I did that and then some. Now, I’ve lost count of the number of lunches and after-seminar drinks I’ve bought other trainers and coaches (who are now close friends) to hear their opinion on a certain subject.

3. Purchase continuing education DVDs, make YouTube channels, start blogging - and utilize the internet to your advantage.

If you find yourself relatively “stuck” professionally, this is an option to provide options for mental and professional growth. I’ve had people ask me what kinds of things they can do to get started in the online side of things.

Funny enough, getting started involves … starting anywhere.

• My blog started out as a way for me to track workouts in 2011. Now it sees unique visitors from all over the world, and I’ve had people email me from many different continents on the world asking questions and looking for more information.
• I also started a YouTube channel to also track my lifting progress. And the camera that I used to post all of my videos? For almost all of 2011, it was an iPhone 1.
• For the record, the iPhone 4s came out late 2011.

I’m not saying I’ve reached massive success by any means, but merely starting the action of tracking and logging the things that you are already doing will help to refine your thought process, and improve your communication skills as well.

Having these videos or blog posts will allow you to interact with others while getting your message across with visual and reading components. The alternative is sitting at home after working with five clients for the day, watching Netflix, and going to sleep wondering how you can improve. Take your pick.

Adapting to regressing and progressing an athlete based on their presentation.

This is probably the most “artful” part of being a coach. If one of your regular athletes walks in after a tournament, and presents with anterior left knee pain, what do you do?

• Train upper body?
• Train the other leg?
• Train the abdominal and core reflexive movement patterns?
• Try to condition? (if necessary - but also keeping in mind that enhancing aerobic qualities has some justifications in aiding recovery time)
• Reviewing game clips to stay mentally sharp and “in the game?”

The message here is that there is always something that you can do to improve. The steps are simple - not easy, but simple.

1. Identify your weak points from a professional point of view.
2. Decide if you need to address it to become a more well-rounded professional, or have someone else fill the spot for you (if you can hire or refer out).
3. Find the actionable items that you can improve upon immediately - not tomorrow, or the next day.
4. What can you improve on now?
5. Of course, do it.

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Soft Skills

The following is a list of items that I feel are not taught in a formal manner, but could be lessons that have been instilled after a number of interactions, readings, and other forms of informal education. Perhaps I’m a bit biased, but this is why internships have provided valuable experience for me; they allow for graded exposure with which I can improve my skills in a safe environment. I can “mess up,” hopefully receive honest feedback, and improve myself both from a skills and growth point of view.

Be personable. Be likeable.

“No one cares how much you know, unless they know how much you care.”  -Theodore Roosevelt

You don’t need to be everyone’s best friend. In fact you don’t need to be anyone’s friend at all; you merely need to understand what makes a person tick, and allow yourself to be whatever that is so that they’ll connect with you. Of course, making friends and actually caring is probably the easiest approach on this front!

Look people in the eye.

Don’t be shift or falter in your gaze. Lock eyes, shake hands, and smile. Today you are alive and helping others along their own journey.

Mean what you say.

Whether it is a coaching cue or advice that will help you get to the next level, the words that I choose are often meant exactly as how I present them.

If I say move your left foot back, funny enough, I don’t mean to move your right foot. I mean move your left foot back!

I’m all for cracking jokes (and I’m often the first to laugh at even the worst of jokes), but at the same time, my responsibility as a strength coach is to elicit change. Sometimes a hard talk is necessary, in which clear lines, clear expectations, and clear meaning needs to shine through.

• If I say you should be getting more sleep, let’s figure out a way to improve the amount of sleep we receive.
• If I say your lack of attention to nutrition is what is limiting your progress, let’s figure out a way to bring awareness to what you are eating and why you are eating that way.
Change does not occur by merely thinking about it. There needs to be action.

Speak up.

There will be music in the gym. It will be loud. There will be lots of people around. Sometimes there is yelling. You will have people not pay attention.

What will you do in this case? Will you stand idly by, being the person that didn’t talk much, and therefore wasn’t memorable? Or, will you mean what you say, and say it once so it didn’t need to be repeated?

Understand how to best help an individual based off of their current psyche surrounding their immediate goals and/or injury history.

This does not immediately mean provide an amazing movement intervention.

This could mean simply listening to them and being there to vent to. Or you can talk about the football game, to take their mind off of whatever is bugging them for the next hour of training. At the same time, I’m not saying you need to be an enabler for avoiding the immediate problem, but there it’s important to be “likable” in times of stress.

Learn how to adapt to various personalities.

All kinds of personalities will walk into the gym. Some are there because they want to improve, others want to simply stick to their routine and not talk to anyone. Some even just need a place to unwind and hang out for hours at a time.

Understanding what makes a person tick will help you get along with everyone. You do not need to be best friends with everyone (some athletes/clients won’t want that); merely coexist and help them get to their goals as fast as possible!

Some may seek you out as a friend, some will seek you out for lifting advice, some on school advice, some on day to day life conversation, and others for something else completely.

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For what it is worth, I’m of the belief that change is possible at ultimately any level; my personal mindset is one of malleability.

Now, imagine this scenario: What would happen if you did not have this ability to adapt to multiple personalities? This completely shuts you off from specific populations of people that can support your business and help you grow as a coach.

Create a system for memorizing multiple names in rapid succession very quickly.

Learning names is important. Calling someone by the wrong name stings, and even if you work with people in large group settings, do your best.

Rhyming is an easy method.

Frank the Tank.

Jake the Snake.

For those that don’t have a “rhyme-able” name, say that person’s name at least three times from introduction, to small talk, to brief departure (if need be).

If that doesn’t sit well with you, utilize the power of imagery to your advantage: imagine their name plastered right between their eyebrows or forehead to emblazon an image in your own head.

Be 100% up-front with your intentions from the get-go.

Time is of the essence. If my thoughts aren’t clear, my intentions may not come across as clear, and my actions may not represent me in a manner of which I will be proud.

You’re considered a coach; act like one.

This involves being considered a role model, whether you like it or not. There can be an unwritten or even written rule that others will be going to you for advice for many different things: nutrition, mindset, or basic lifting advice.

Choose a mentor, and walk with him or her.

If you don’t have access to a mentor, purchase a DVD, watch a YouTube clip, and read their information. Draw from it the most useful information that they offer you in terms of personality, coaching cues, tools, etc., and walk with that as if they were watching your every step.

Sure, it sounds strange, but imagine if your favorite coach or whomever were to watch your every coaching cue, every action on and off the court, field, or weight room.

Would you act differently?

Would you act the same?

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Some of these things you may already do. Some of them may have never crossed your mind. I am merely passing on things that I have found to be helpful professionally and personally. If you have additional suggestions that complement mine, I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.

About the Author

Miguel Aragoncillo (@MiggsyBogues) is a strength and conditioning coach at the Hudson, MA location of Cressey Sports Performance. More of his writing can be found on www.MiguelAragoncillo.com.

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Cressey Sports Performance Just Turned 7!

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance co-founder and vice president, Pete Dupuis.

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Lost in all of the excitement surrounding yesterday’s announcement of Cressey Sports Performance’s soon-to-open second facility, is the fact that our business officially turned seven years old yesterday! It was on the 13th of July way back in the summer of 2007 that Eric, Tony and I decided to dive headfirst into an entrepreneurial lifestyle.

Rather than recycle the same old song and dance covering a list of our seven proudest moments, I will be taking a new approach in the 2014 edition of our annual birthday post. This time around, I’m going to outline the seven reasons that we are in a position to begin expanding our business and brand to other parts of the country.

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This isn’t going to be a seven-point bullet list of “how to add additional locations to your existing model”. Instead, this is going to be my way of highlighting the importance of employing good people who genuinely care about their clients, care about each other, and make it a priority to have fun every time they show up to work. I don’t think that Eric or I currently do enough to illustrate how much we appreciate our team, so this piece is a long time coming.

Gym owners with book smarts are useless without a good team

The first discussion point I like to cover during our business consultations here at CSP is the fact that the foundation of our success is quality customer service. Who really cares if you’re exceptionally talented at assessing athletes and designing individualized programming if you’re socially inept to an extent that people can’t bring themselves to spend 90-minutes with you?

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With this in mind, it should make perfect sense that I believe the seven “reasons” we’re in a position to expand are actually the collection of faces that our clients see on a daily basis. We couldn’t possibly open a second gym AND continue to operate our showcase facility simultaneously without an exceptional team of individuals who are dedicated to making both places special.

To give you a feel for what I’m talking about, consider this…

Over 3,000 athletes have now trained at CSP. That means 3,000+ assessments, some multiple of that number in individualized programs, and just a shade under 100,000 supervised training sessions executed since 2007. It is probably going to blow some people’s minds when I tell you that Eric didn’t assess every athlete and write every one of these programs himself. In fact, assessment and programming responsibilities are spread evenly throughout my staff of strength coaches here at CSP, and each one of them has their own unique specialties under our "umbrella."

What I think makes our staff amazing

This piece serves as MY perspective on what makes our entire staff unique, inspiring, caring, talented, ambitious, etc. There are, in fact, exactly seven of us who qualify as full-time staff here at CP. Since I happen to be one of the seven, you’re all about to get cheated out of a seventh “reason”, because I’m most certainly not covering what I like about myself!

Here’s a look at six people who I believe qualify as the crème of the fitness industry crop, beginning with our newest team members:

Stacie Leary – Office Manager

While Stacie is not a coach here at CSP, she is the first person that every single client through the door encounters. Stacie started as a client in 2013 and fell in love with the training environment. When our last Office Manager Paige departed (CP Hall of Fame staff member, by the way), Stacie was the first to inquire about the position.

Stacie

In the brief time since she’s been a part of our team, I’ve had more than a few clients find their way into my office to tell me that she’s doing an exceptional job. Her attention to detail borders on psychotic, which is EXACTLY what we need at the front end of our business.

Most importantly to me, Stacie genuinely cares about doing her job to the best of her ability. This is reflected on an almost daily basis as I receive text messages and emails from her making suggestions for improving the customer experience here at CSP. All of these messages roll in during times when she is “off the clock.”

Andrew Zomberg – Strength and Conditioning Coach

There are a lot of characteristics about Andrew that I appreciate, but my favorite happens to be the way he came to be part of the “CSP Family.”

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Back in the beginning of 2012, we decided to hire a new full-time strength coach. We chose to open the opportunity up to candidates from all different backgrounds and Andrew submitted an application. When the dust settled on the close to 100 candidate materials we reviewed, he happened to be in the final three candidates for a position that ultimately went to Greg Robins.

Fast-forward to the spring of 2013, when I found Andrew’s name at the top of the applicant pool for our coming summer internship. While this may not have been the most shocking occurrence in the world, I really appreciated the fact that he was eager to earn a spot in an unpaid internship program a year after just barely missing out on a paid opportunity with us. Not to mention the fact that Andrew and his wife were expecting a child, and settling in to a new life in New Hampshire after having recently relocated from Philadelphia.

Long story short, he genuinely cared about becoming a better coach. His decision to put in hundreds of unpaid hours to accomplish this over the coarse of that summer ultimately resulted in a full-time offer being extended his way. I’ve been thrilled by his contribution. And, his devotion to continuing education still remains strong; he spent his last "day off" observing elbow and knee surgeries.

Greg Robins – Strength and Conditioning Coach

As noted above, Greg became a member of our team back in the spring of 2012. Since that time, he’s coached thousands of hours of training sessions, assessed countless athletes, and designed more programs than he probably ever imagined he would. He’s also been a regular contributor to EC’s website, and helped me to build a thriving bootcamp program here at CSP.

Outside of being a well-liked coach on the training floor, Greg is undoubtedly the quirkiest individual I’ve ever met. He sings loudly (completely off-tune) at unexpected times, has survived entirely on the brisket he smoked in his backyard for multiple weeks at a time, and has a strange fashion sense.

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This past spring, as we were transitioning our Office Manager role from Paige to Stacie, I asked that each of my coaches work a single day of the week at the front desk so that they could gain an appreciation for the front end of our services. I think that our coaches tend to underappreciate this piece of the client experience, so this seemed to be the most effective way to educate them.

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Greg took the role seriously, showing up for his first day at the front desk wearing a blazer. When I asked what inspired him to clean up his look, he told me “I wear gym clothes in the gym, and office clothes in the office. There’s no in between with me.” As you can see above, I requested that he pose for a picture. Since he insisted that we figure out a way to incorporate the plant and a baseball bat, I opted for a nice spread of images.

Never a dull moment with Mr. Robins, and I love it.

Chris Howard – Wears many hats

Other than our co-founders, Chris is by far the longest tenured CSP staff member. He completed an internship with us during the fall of 2008 and ultimately joined the team as a full-time strength coach just over a year later upon completion of a massage therapy program. Chris is a strength coach, licensed massage therapist, nutrition guru, and internship education coordinator here at CSP. He does it all.

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I know for a fact that Chris cares as much about this place as us owners do. I say this because he makes his way in to my office at least once a week with one or more ideas of how we can improve our systems. He is single-handedly responsible for recording and documenting all of the content delivered in our weekly in-services and for creating an on-boarding manual for our incoming interns which essentially has them arriving on day-one ready to coach. Most importantly, he takes the initiative to systemize, organize and distribute all of this material on his own.

Earlier, I mentioned that my staff members care about not only our clients, but also each other. Chris clearly illustrated this concept just a few short weeks ago when he and his longtime girlfriend Jess volunteered to drive to my house on a Saturday night and babysit my three month old son so that my wife and I could escape for our first date night as parents.

Much like the rest of my team, Chris is as much a friend as he is an employee.

Tony Gentilcore – Co-Founder & Strength and Conditioning Coach

Tony is the most humble personality in the fitness industry. As one of the faces of CSP, Tony is a prime example of the continuity our clients look forward to in their training sessions. What these clients usually do not realize is that outside of the walls of our facility, Tony has thousands of loyal readers, Twitter followers, and fans in general who rely on his training insight on an almost daily basis.

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One of the problems with being as nice as Tony can be, is that he is vulnerable to relentless verbal assaults from people like Matt Blake, and often finds himself the subject of our “Quote of the Day” featured on the CSP Facebook Page. To this day, the most “liked” quote I’ve ever shared came from a 14-year-old female client who said:

“You know what, Tony…at first you appear to be a pretty intimidating guy with your big arms and shaved head. But then you wont stop talking about your cat, and I realize that you’re painfully soft.”

As much as it is fun to bust on his gentle nature, this underappreciated style is what makes him such an effective coach and talented writer. He was standing right there alongside me with a broom in-hand seven years ago as we prepared a brutally hot empty warehouse to be our first gym, and for that reason will forever share a bond with Eric and me.

Eric Cressey – President, Strength and Conditioning Coach, Future Exhausted Dad

Given that you are reading this on Eric’s website, I obviously do not need to outline his resume.

All I will say is this: Eric literally cares about every single aspect of how this business operates, from the program design, to the equipment selection, to social media, and everything in between. He eats, sleeps, and breathes Cressey Sports Performance.

One of the more common questions I receive from industry professionals considering opening their own facility is how to go about finding a business partner who clicks with you on both a personal and professional level. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer to this question. I say this because Eric is truly one of a kind. Not only is he the smartest person in every room he walks into, but he also happens to have a work ethic that does not exist in anyone else. It is for this reason that I expect CSP to be uniquely productive and successful for years to come.

How’s that for a competitive advantage?!?!

Pete Dupuis – Vice President & Business Director

This guy shows up, answers calls, writes a few emails, and calls it a day. His report card reads: “Meets Expectations.”

Note from EC: in working in some humor, Pete has failed to give himself the tremendous amount of credit he deserves. Without him, the trains don't run on time at CSP, as every hour of training requires an hour of planning that goes on behind the scenes. And, logistics aside, we have Pete to thank for the unique look of our facility, witty "Quotes of the Day"on our Facebook page, and the fact that every training session is actually a social experience where clients feel right at home. We wouldn't be where we are without him and the immense amount of intellectual and emotional "capital" he's invested in the business.

Here's to seven more years of fun!

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