“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes”
Mistakes are a valuable tool in all walks of life – that’s because it’s far easier to learn from your mistakes than it is to learn from your successes. The hard part comes in identifying what mistakes have been made (this won’t always be obvious) and then accepting responsibility. Once you’ve done this it’s a simple of case of working out how to do things better. Easy, right?
Here’s a quick compendium of some of the many mistakes I’ve made as a coach. Hopefully they’ll give you a little inspiration to reflect on your own practices and philosophies.
- Assume that full ROM is always best
Whilst I believe that every athlete should be strong throughout a full ROM it doesn’t mean that performing every exercise with a maximal ROM is always the best way forward. This topic is more than a whole article in itself so I’ll try to keep my explanation brief. It comes down two key points, the risk vs reward for the individual athlete and the time we have available to train. Remember that risk doesn’t always mean physical!
- Talk too much
Coaching is as much about what you don’t say as what you do say. If I was coaching a new exercise to an athlete a couple of years ago I’d have probably given them a dossier of coaching points before they’ve even started to move. Now I’m much more in the ‘let them figure it out for themselves’ camp. Give them a movement problem (a very on trend term at the moment) and give them clues until they can solve it.
A bonus point here – never underestimate the power of a look. Your facial expressions are more than enough to tell an athlete how they’ve performed and they tend to be a hell of a lot more powerful too!
- Dismiss forms of training
Much of this comes down to ego on my part. Because I’m an S&C coach and part of the S&C profession I assume that we know best. Some methods and devices have a bad reputation in our industry and I guess that my default position had always been to follow my peers. Now, whilst I love bashing Bosu’s, Crossfit and kettlebell juggling as much as the next man, most types of training actually have a purpose in the right time and place. Embrace the use of instability devices, Pilates, kettlebells and so on if the situation warrants them. Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.
- Plan too much, too far in advance
Periodisation done well is like an artistic masterpiece, a thing of real beauty. The problem is that real world tends to get in the way of our very well laid, colour coded, volume load tracked plans. Don’t waste time and resources in planning too far in advance, deal in one or two training cycles at a time. Keep the following in mind for future cycles but don’t get too bogged down in sets, reps and so on.
- Know the competition schedule as best you can
- Identify the goals the will be required at each stage of the programme
- Ensure that each phase of training will facilitate the next (this doesn’t simply mean linear periodisation)
- Know which bio-motors you will train and how you’ll train them (how much volume, intensity, etc)
- Implementing new ideas too quickly
Mike Robertson raised this point a month or so ago on his blog. Going to conferences or workshops are exciting, especially as a young coach. You learn so much new information and you just can’t wait to put it into practice when you get back into work on Monday morning. However, you need to figure out how this new information fits into your coaching. I don’t think that you can do this over a weekend. Spend a week or two reflecting on new concept – before a session think about how you could apply it, after a session think about how it might have impacted on what you did. Let the information absorb before you start implementing.
There’s my first five mistakes for you. Hopefully they’ll give you something to think about over the next week or so. Any comments or points you’d like to raise on the back of them? Drop me a comment below.