4 Additional Rules to Improve Your Coaching Skills

In part one of our book club, we dove into the book, “Coaching Rules”, by Brendon Rearick. Our staff discussed 7 ways to improve your coaching skills. Continuing into part two of Brendon’s book, we are highlighting 4 additional rules that can have a positive impact in training your clients/athletes.


Rule #52 - What gets measured, gets managed. Measure things that matter.

Measurement allows us to track baseline performance when dealing with athletes that have specific sport demands/goals. If performance coaches don’t take the opportunity to establish where the athlete started, it makes for a difficult time to assess whether training programs are producing the proper adaption. A program that is lacking measurement or assessing the quality of movement, is a program that cannot determine progress.


When measuring performance, we want to measure what matters most to that client/athlete. For example, tracking a powerlifter's mile time might not be the best statistic to measure to improve his bench, deadlift, or squat max.


We as coaches, need to measure and measure the important data that will help our athletes/clients improve their goals or performance.


Rule #57 - How strong is strong enough?


First off, we as performance coaches have one goal in mind and that is to make our clients stronger and more resilient. But there comes a time when just training for maximal strength has diminishing returns and isn’t likely creating the adaptation we as coaches are looking for.


For instance, we have many baseball players in our facility that are deadlifting 400lbs+ and have crazy amounts of strength. This begs the question of, “is more strength the answer”? In this case, likely not, as chasing a 500lb deadlift would not likely benefit those athletes to perform better on the field. It would take massive amounts of energy and time away from training other qualities like speed, power, and rotational work that could likely improve the on-field product. At some point, we have to start training the rate of force development for those athletes to then increase their ability to apply more force in a shorter amount of time.


Rule #49 - Don’t get sucked into the “corrective” whirlpool.


Brendon says it best, “your clients don’t pay you to show them how to breathe or touch their toes for 60 minutes. They want to sweat and get fit too.”


Many coaches can get stuck in the “breathing” or “corrective” exercises that require ground-based work that they saw at their latest continuing education seminar, and after you know it, your client has been lying on the ground for the last 20 minutes and haven’t yet gotten their workout in. That likely isn’t what the client had in mind when they signed up at your gym.


Instead of bombarding them with breath work and a ton of mobility exercises at the beginning of a session, give them 3-5 warm-up drills to get them going, and place any corrective work as a filler in between their strength work.


Rule #62 - Give them what they need, and sprinkle in what they want.


When it comes to training clients, building a relationship is key when training them far beyond that initial month. We as coaches may understand what exercise or personalization will be used to achieve that client's goals, but ultimately it’s the clients' interests and goals that have to be first, not yours as a coach.


With that said, you may have to compromise your agenda to allow your clients the opportunity to perform exercises they like and enjoy. That doesn’t say that you have to deviate from your principles as a coach, but there has to be some middle ground if you are going to keep that client around a year or more.


Instead of telling your client, “oh, we don’t do that exercise here”, think about a variation you may be able to use that would best benefit them at that time. For example, maybe swap out a dumbbell bench for the traditional bench press, or trap bar deadlift for the conventional deadlift.


As a coach, we are here to prepare the clients for whatever goals they have in mind and it’s our job to put the outcome they are pursuing ahead of the agenda we have.

References: Rearick, B., (2020). Coaching Rules. A How-to Manual for a Successful Career in Strength and Fitness