Self Coached = Not Coached

by coachdanbell

There is no such thing as self coaching. You can be self taught, almost always badly, and in such a manner that an actual coach, if you finally seek one out, will have much to undo, but you did not “coach” yourself.

A coach has training. While taking a USAW Level 1 or CrossFit Level 1 course is a start, real coaches are always seeking to improve and increase their knowledge. They spend the money and the time to take more advanced courses. Many have gone to college and earned a degree in exercise science or a related field. They are constantly reading. They make a point of seeking out more experienced coaches and learning what they can, always expanding and deepening their understanding of training and technique.

A coach has experience. Coaching weightlifters usually starts with being a weightlifter. You are probably still in the early stages of a weightlifting career, one or two years, probably. A coach has had an entire career already, ten or more years, with all the ups and downs, successes and frustrations, and shared that with dozens of contemporaries going through the same thing. He/she has—and this is vital—seen tens of thousands of lifts by hundreds or even thousands of lifters. A coach has had to start out or, much more difficult, “fix” a wide variety of lifters of differing ages, sizes, and athletic abilities. A coach has spend sleepless nights trying to figure out why John’s jerks are always out front, why Brittany is the only lifter he’s had who does not respond to his always effective squat programs, how to keep lifters progressing through break-ups, injury and the outside pressures of school or work.

A coach has objectivity. You do not see the truth about yourself. You are either overly optimistic about your training and potential or overly critical of yourself. You have fears and mental blocks to which you are blind. You can attempt a PR snatch half a dozen times, completely convinced that you’ll hit the next one. What your coach sees is that you just don’t have that weight in you today and will stop you after, at most, two attempts, if she lets you go for the second one. You hop from internet program to another lifter’s advice to the programs in the latest weightlifting book you got on Amazon, not really understanding if the program is written for the advanced lifter, the beginner, to enhance sub-par technique or to prep for a competition. A coach knows YOU, writes a program for YOU, with a clearer view of your strengths, weaknesses, the stage of your career and your potential than you’ll likely ever have.

A coach takes the long view. You have that next PR in mind. You plan for the local meet in six weeks and want badly to qualify for nationals or CrossFit Regionals. A coach has a vision of you in five years, ten years, at the end of your career. A coach has her eyes on the horizon while you are looking at the ground in front of your feet. You want to jump to two training sessions per day, while a coach would see that you have not acquired the recovery capacity yet to handle the additional training load. You get frustrated with being held back from PR attempts; your coach sees that you have not yet mastered the the transition from pull to pull under and heavier weights will only “groove in” poor technique, limiting your long term potential. You see yourself winning the state meet. Your coach sees you on the podium at Pan Ams or the Olympics.

After two or three years of training, you are no more a coach—of yourself or anyone—than a sophomore biology major is a surgeon. If you plan to be very good or even great, your first job is find a coach. And no, it absolutely is not you.