I was recently asked to do an interview for a class in the Exercise Science department so I thought I would share that here as well.
1) What is your coaching philosophy?
I believe in training an athlete to be specific to their sport, by looking at movement patterns, energy systems requirements, necessary motor skills, etc. Within that I have two goals which are 1) injury prevention, and 2) performance enhancement. We want our athletes on field and injury free. They have attended the University to get an education as well as play their sport. I want them always able to be contributing to the team. As well, we always want to increase the ability of each athlete, year to year, to perform their sport at a higher level.
2) What do you think about the statement, “athletes first, winning second”?
Hopefully the first takes care of the second is my first thought. In this age of “win now” attitude it doesn’t make a sport coach’s job easy. Everything is driven by money when it comes down to it money is driven by winning.
As a strength coach, though, my philosophy is entirely based around the athlete. I believe that the first creates the second. Our job is to develop the athlete to the fullest of their potential while decreasing their chance of injury.
3) Do you agree with that statement? Why or Why not?
As a strength and conditioning coach I do agree, but as I stated above that isn’t always the case. Nobody will come out and say that but everything is driven by the almighty dollar.
It’s no different in the private sector of our profession. I know people who have no business training an athlete, but because they walked on to a football team 5 years ago they believe they have the expertise in creating proper physiological adaptations to anybody be it from age 10 to 70.
They do it because it’s easy money. Every parent wants to believe their child is the next Tiger Woods so it’s easy forking over $500 a month to have somebody run their child until they puke never realizing they may be doing more harm than good.
4) What hinders you from agreeing with or implementing that statement?
I believe I do implement this statement every day I train my athletes.
5) How do you motivate your athletes? Discuss rewards and punishments you use.
I am a firm believer that motivation should be intrinsic. If an athlete can’t motivate themselves to push harder, or do the little things expected of them, or do what they previously thought can’t be done, then they probably need to think about other options. Motivation shouldn’t have to be pushed on to somebody.
As far as punishment goes I have a team pays together mentality. If an athlete misses a training session or shows up late, the team will pay for it as one unit. Everything that happens on the field negatively during a game affects the entire team. If a wide receiver fumbles the ball, it isn’t the wide receiver that pays a price, it’s the entire team. I feel it should be the same way in aspects off the playing field. Athletes must learn that there are consequences to everything in sports as well as life. They must develop accountability to themselves as well as others who depend on them.
6) What do you do to maintain a positive relationship with your athlete’s parents or family?
I don’t have a ton of contact with my athlete’s parents. I see them during road trips and team functions but outside of that don’t have a lot of contact. Our relationship is usually a result of what the athlete has told them about our training. I’ve never had a bad relationship with a parent though. Parents always understand that what I do is a necessary part of their child’s development in athletics and I am helping them to achieve their goals.
7) What suggestions would you give about coaching to a first year coach?
As far as strength and conditioning coaches go my suggestions could fill up a multiple pages but I’ll try to keep it simple. I always tell our interns to read everything they can get their hands on as it pertains to sports performance. This will be the most important thing they can do for their development in this field. University degree programs do not prepare students for this field so they must undertake this obligation of educating themselves.
Begin creating a network. More often than not in any field it will come down to who you know just as much as what you know. Having a wide, diverse network will be one of the most important aspects of any career, not just coaching. I made this mistake of not keeping in touch with some of my contacts when I was a young coach.
Keep your mouth shut and your eyes and ears open. Go out of the way to do anything that is needed. Everybody has duties they don’t care for but performing these with a smile will go a long way. Paying their dues is something that every coach has done and it will most likely be no different for the future generation. Understand that you will earn what you get and it will not be given to you.
Observe coaches and how they interact with their athletes. Pick up coaching cues from their interactions during training sessions. One thing beginning coaches lack is the ability to give short precise coaching cues. They often end up talking their way through a movement, or exercise.
This may be already understood but undertake internships, volunteer opportunities, anything where one can gain practical experience. Too many coaches don’t want to work for free but this is often the route that one must take to prove they want to be a coach. Take every experience as a learning opportunity and grow from it.
8.) What made you want to be a coach?
I spent most of high school either training for sports, or reading about training for sports. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do going into my Junior year of college and my dad said “Why wouldn’t you be a weights coach if you love it so much?” That was pretty much the answer. I have always had a passion for sports performance because it was such a huge part of my life.
I survived as an athlete because I outworked everybody in the weight room, on the field, etc. I had to make up for a lack of natural ability and I did that by supplementing my athletic ability with strength and conditioning. I understood how important training was at an early age and look back at all the mistakes I made when I didn’t know any better. I’ve always wanted to give athletes the best possible chance at becoming the best they possibly can and help them to avoid the pitfalls I encountered.
9) What ambitions if any do you have for the rest of your coaching career?
Like anything else that I do I want to be the best I can be in my chosen field. I have dreams of being a Director of Strength and Conditioning in the near future, and running an entire department at the collegiate level.
10) How has being a coach affected you personally?
They may not know it but my goal isn’t just creating athletes. It’s creating sound, disciplined young men that will succeed not only on the playing field but in life as well. I enjoy watching kids come into the program and leave as men, feeling that I may have helped them along their path at some point.