The Importance of Coaching vs Instructing


An interesting conversation took place here the other day with one of my lads.

He’d just finished his training and we were chatting about the progress he’d made. He commented that it was down to simply following a program.

And to a large degree he’s correct, good programming is vital to success in any athletic endeavour. But in his particular case and in many other people’s case, it’s not the whole truth.

When he joined me he was already following a training program set out by an online coach and simply asked if he could use my facility to train out of, things hadn’t worked out well at the last place he was using.
I agreed and pretty much left him to it. He followed his program religiously and made great progress. But it could have been better.

Since then he’s switched to training directly under me. No, in his chosen sport my programming skills are probably not as good as the specialists he was consulting online, but there is one major difference.

I am there, watching.

Not only that but I can judge what days to push forwards and what days to back off. I can adjust the training on the fly as needed.
And I can converse with him between sets and work out what adjustments need to be made in order to best advance him as an individual. These could be technique issues or weak/imbalanced areas specific to him.

In other words, he receives “coaching”, where as previously he only received “training”
The difference is crucial.

A coach is there, always there.
A good coach knows his athletes as well as or often better than they know themselves.
A good coach knows as soon as his athlete steps onto the floor where he is mentally and physically, before anything more than “hello” has been said.
A good coach can pick out an athletes weak points and eliminate them.

A “trainer” can’t do this. Nor can the vast majority of fitness instructors.

If you are training for something, be it athleticism, physique or sport, ensure you search out a coach, someone who doesn’t just hand you a workout, no matter if it’s the perfect program or not. But find someone who can get in your head, someone who can work out what makes you tick and can manipulate you to tick more efficiently.

If you are a fitness instructor/trainer whatever. Endeavour to learn how your athletes think. Always be assessing.

There’s a lot of internet chatter about assessments, especially since the whole FMS thing exploded onto the scene. But in Wild Geese I am assessing you from the minute you enter the building to the minute you leave.
Each and every movement, each facial expression, the intonation and construction of your sentences when you speak, the way you stand, walk, the look in your eye. All these tell a story.
These are all things a coach should be looking for, should be reading and taking note of.
Each tiny element helps build a story. A coach can read the story and workout how best to steer it.

The difference in an athlete’s success/failure isn’t always the programming. The best program in the world is no use if the athlete can’t implement it on those occasions where life gets in the way.




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