A couple of years back my good friend Marco Sanchez was in Chicago to teach a CFSC course at a local commercial gym. At the time, I was working with an NHL team as an independent contractor and the strength and conditioning coach joined me to check out Marco’s work.
Side note: If you haven’t gone through the CFSC course you absolutely should!
During one of the breaks I was approached by a course attendee who wanted to know what it took to get in with a pro team. I gave him the blueprint to my exact path:
Dumb luck and a good network. I mean, that’s how I got there. There’s thousands of routes to that goal.
I followed that up with my own question.
“Why do you want to work with pro athletes?”
His reply offered the same kind of stuff that I would hear a lot of coaches spout.
Making a difference in an athlete’s career.
I had some bad news for him. None of those were given in the pro atmosphere. You were just as likely to run into clients that didn’t want to do the work you had for them. You were just as likely to deal with attitudes, tardiness, and lack of attention. Maybe even more so. I’m here to tell you, it’s not what it’s cracked up to be. My limited experience in that atmosphere taught me a lot of things; perhaps the biggest lesson in there was that it was, in fact, not the pinnacle of what strength and conditioning coaches do. Not to me anyways. And my inkling is that it’s not to many of you either.
It could be, but you certainly don’t have to be in that environment to reach YOUR pinnacle and it certainly isn’t higher than any other pinnacle.
My argument is that if you really want to prove yourself as a great coach, that is not the setting to do it in.
Why? Well here’s two big points of contention that eliminate some of the biggest obstacles we commoners face:
- Unlimited budget. You are most often never in want of anything. You can usually just order whatever piece of equipment you want and it will be in your weight room in a jiff.
- Your actual impact with the athletes in front of you is minimal. Ben Bruno hit the nail on the head when he recently posted about this very topic. How much coaching are you doing if through one demonstration your athletes can perform the task better than you can?
I wanted to write this out for you fine people because I hate hearing about how much better of a coach someone must be if they are working with pro athletes. It bugs me that someone working their tails off to keep the doors open in their studio would think less of themselves than another coach that is “living the dream”.
I also wanted to tip my cap to those very people. All you studio owners, commercial gym trainers, and basically anyone else with a “normal” job in our industry. You, my friends, are proving that you are great coaches everyday!
You deal with logistical problems. You find ways to motivate people that don’t understand why they need to take care of themselves. You provide your clients with an appreciation for a little something we call the physical culture. You solve problems day in and day out that might crush someone that you think so highly of.
I know this because I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen an idol, mentor, whatever you want to call them, take on the challenges of dealing with general population training and get CRUSHED. It was truly a “curse of meeting your hero” moment and I couldn’t be happier that I experienced it.
My goal here is not to bash any coach that works at the pro levels. Definitely not. I am friends with a couple of absolute stellar human beings that are in that arena and crushing it through and through. My goal is to give you some insight on what a rockstar YOU are regardless of your job title and place of work is.
Whatever you like to call yourself in this profession, wherever you work, whoever you work with, my message to you is that it’s not about all of that. It’s about whether or not you are making a difference. And if that difference is helping Bob be able to play with his kids all day without having to take an ice bath that night, then I would say that your accomplishments are much grander than you might think.
Just a friendly reminder that you’re doing a great job and a request that you stop thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Keep working to improve how you can help the people in front of you every day and you will be able to look back on a very successful and meaningful career.
As my very pale and red headed friend, Todd Bumgardner, would say….
“Keep chopping wood!”