One aspect of the training process which is integral to the overall success and maximization of our clients’ training is for our coaches to attend games, events, matches, etc. to observe our athletes and clients during competition. Attending games and events is critical to observe how an athlete or client performs the necessary movements and functions to perform during the specific sport/ competition. Observing during competition enables our strength staff to maximize programming by including deficiencies or limitations found during competition. Our ultimate goal is to increase our clients’ quality of life, whether that be through athletic performance and/or improving everyday life activities.
Frequently, the importance of strength and conditioning coaches to observe their athletes and clients during competition is overlooked. Our roles as strength and conditioning coaches far exceed simply building strength, speed, mobility, etc. Although these are critical functions to our position, there are many other aspects that are increasingly important.
One of these aspects is improving upon our programming to increase performance by discovering additional deficiencies during competition. We find movement proficiencies, deficiencies, and other limitations during the movement screening process of our initial evaluation. We also discover additional limitations during the execution of specific movements and exercises during the training process. However, there are additional proficiencies and deficiencies that are revealed during the actual competition that we cannot see on the weight room floor.
Watching how athletes perform their respective sport in person, not simply on video, provides a unique opportunity for our strength staff to implement programming strategies to reinforce our overall goal to increase performance. For example, our strength coaches attend as many baseball games as possible due to our significant population of baseball athletes. Watching a shortstop play defense, we can recognize if this athlete has a limited range in the infield. This context enables us to program additional exercises to improve change of direction, lateral explosion, and other qualities to improve this shortstop’s defensive range.
Similarly, we can observe, and in some cases partake in, activities with our general population clients to achieve the same objective. Our goal remains the same from athlete to general population clients, to improve overall performance. However, the context changes from athlete to general population clients. Our general population clients' overall performance improves when general health and wellness experiences improve (including physical and mental health). Therefore, we can watch our clients perform activities and tasks they enjoy so we can assist in their improvement of overall life performance. One example is when some of our staff plays golf with clients. We have a number of clients that enjoy playing recreational golf. When our strength coaches play golf with a client, our coaches find additional limitations not found during training or the evaluation. Again, our coaches can then implement exercises addressing these limitations, improving the efficacy of the program and enhancing the client’s overall training experience.
Another aspect of our role as strength and conditioning coaches is to continuously provide support for all of our athletes and clients. This process takes time and trust but can be accomplished by attending games, events, activities, etc. This enables our coaching staff to increase our job performance, but it also provides us an opportunity to invest and support our athletes and clients. The well-being of our athletes and clients is our first priority here at BPT.
Supporting them in an environment they thrive in is one way we can demonstrate our whole patient care approach to strength and conditioning.
Furthermore, it offers additional context for our conversations with our athletes and clients. Opposed to our staff simply asking questions regarding an athlete’s game, we engage in a more beneficial conversation about the game, compared to only asking questions. These conversations become increasingly important as the athlete feels more comfortable developing quality relationships with our staff. It assists our staff to better understand our athletes’ lives outside of the weight room and their overall health.
There are numerous aspects to our role as strength and conditioning coaches outside of developing mobility, strength, speed, conditioning, etc. However, one of the more important aspects is assisting in the development of mental health with all of our athletes and clients. As former high-level athletes, we understand the influx of external and internal stressors experienced by our athletes. We empathize with the constant pressure from sports coaches, teammates, school, and home environments in cohesion with high internal expectations our athletes experience with extreme regularity. We must place daily considerations on the chance that an external stressor may affect a day in the weight room. As much as our role as strength coaches lies in the ability to coach, it also relies on the ability to relate to and motivate our athletes. Knowing our athletes’ personalities on and off the field plays a crucial role in how we approach training on the daily basis but also in confronting any difficult situation that may arise. We take pride in being support staff, role models, and all that we can for all of our athletes. Understanding these stressors, we must place increased attention to our roles as support staff for our athletes. Providing advice, positive reinforcement, and positive energy for our athletes becomes a higher priority than adding more external stressors through more hard coaching.
This principle applies to our general population clients as well. Our clients experience countless stressors from work, to bills, to family, to many others. As a result of these stressors, we have to support and assist our clients with high energy, positive and continued support. Our clients do not need increased stress when they are training. Training sessions are designed to help rid of stressors and provide a high-energy, positive atmosphere.
When our staff members head out to a high school baseball game on a Saturday afternoon it’s really much deeper than just to get some sunshine. As we strive to be better coaches, we also support and challenge all of our athletes and clients to not only perform better physically but better themselves mentally. Watching an individual play or compete we can increase their apparent weaknesses whether that be through mobility, strength, or speed. However, the equal or greater benefit comes from the ability to build a trusting relationship with each person who walks through our front door.