Allow me to start this post off by setting the record straight.
It is far easier to coach a top level or professional athlete than an un-athletic beginner or untrained individual.
I will admit, it is a lot more impressive to watch video footage of a professional athlete being coached through speed work, strength training and executing all these seemingly impossible movements with the utmost ease.
But thats where people get tricked into thinking a gym/coach is great or not.
For the most part, even solid athletes do not posses all the strength/speed/explosive physical qualities as these elite athletes yet somehow the facilities who are known for working with all these professional athletes are regarded as being the best gyms/coaches around.
But why are these gyms far less eager to recruit the younger, less talented and naturally gifted athletes and providing them with solid training to push them to the preverbial "next level"?
Let me draw from personal experiences as a strength coach for a moment.
The downsides of coaching top level pro athletes:
- Dealing with their egos. Yes even if they are nice men or women, they have egos. Don't kid yourself.
- The stress of making sure they don't end up injured on your watch.
- They have wishy washy schedules and expect you to work around it, because you guessed it. They are pro's.
- Even though you are the coach they believe they know what programming is best for their sport despite your experience and genuine interest in their success.
- They always want to come in and do something "new" (even if it does nothing for their sport, or to enhance their weak points physically).
The upsides of coaching top level pro athletes:
- You don't really have to coach much. (no matter how much of a clown you make yourself look like by standing in their workout videos yelling and screaming in the background they don't really need the motivation so you can just calm down).
- They have the edge. Mentally and physically they are dialed in and ready to grind every time that they do actually make it to their training session.
- They give your ego a big hug because you can post on social media and tell your high school friends "I coach pro's all the time" even though they end up being the easiest hours of your day.
- It gives you a much needed break from coaching the beginners which is a much more frustrating and labor intense process, requiring the constant adjustments and patience.
- They film well and make you look like a better coach because they can do things that non-athletes or untrained athletes just cannot do yet.
Which one of these athletes requires their strength and conditioning coaches best effort?
Pictured Above (14 year old high school freshman who dreams of being in the UFC)
Pictured Below (Current UFC megastar and Freak Athlete)
The downsides of coaching non/untrained athletes:
- It tests all of your actual coaching abilities. You're leadership, patience, programming adjustments, gut instincts, thought process etc. is all on the line each time you work with one.
- They do not yet posess "The Edge" mentally or physically so if you do somehow wrangle them into coming consistently, you then have the task of trying to get them focused enough to enhance their athletic qualities (strength, conditioning, speed, mobility, etc etc).
- You will get frustrated with the "start/stop" attendance record. They come in and say they want to get better but do not have the drive to stay the course which leaves you in quite the pickle as to what coaching method to program.
- They get bored doing the Goblet squats, working their technique with empty bars on the bench/squat/etc, band pull-aparts, and all the other things that will lay the ground work for their entire strength programming and you have the dubious task of being a good enough leader to allow your influence to help them keep the course.
- They don't help you build your customer base because people generally won't be impressed enough to come start a program after watching a beginner hit a bench PR of 115#'s or a solid 5 rep deadlift record with perfect form/speed having only 215#'s on the bar. So even though they got the best coaching you have to offer and actually had the most measurable gains as a result of those coaching cues and hard work, the public will not recognize you, the non/untrained athlete or the amazing advance in their athletic capabilities.
At Top Line Gym we coach both the top athletes/pros and the totally untrained non-athlete beginners.
I enjoy both and dislike both for the reasons listed above, but I wanted to be the coach who finally made light of the simple fact the gym/coach working with the weaker/non athletic athletes and getting them to the point of being an elite athlete is far more impressive than that coach/facility always trying to recruit D1 and professional athletes.
Is watching a D-1 football player do a box jump onto a 3 story building cool to see? Yup.
Would it be fun to check out the youtube video of a UFC fighter running backwards on a treadmill with a Darth Vader Mask on while doing backflips and cartwheels to avoid the paint balls being shot at him by his strength coach? I think so.
How about watching the high school freshman completing the proper tech on a pushup? Sorry, nobody's got time for that.
The upsides and why coaching non/untrained athletes is so rewarding to work with young untrained athletes and help them make it to that super-star athlete point.
- If I get the chance to work with a freshman or sophomore in high-school who is a c or d player on their team and I can turn them into a solid C,B, or A player who can actually contribute to their teams overall performance, I have done a solid job of coaching.
- Its actually better for business. You get to work with the athlete for two, three or even four years.
- There is no better feeling turning a weak young 15 year old sophomore into a complete freak mentally and physically by his junior and senior year and then going to watch him begin his senior year as a starting running back on a top 10 team (and racking up over 150 yards from scrimmage and 2 touchdowns) like I got to do this year for one of my best successes stories at Top Line. (P.S. he is now stronger than 90% of grown men and he's a teenager)
So now that we understand that coaching the pro's doesn't always mean your the best gym or coach, Lets watch cool Top Line Gym training footage of Professional UFC MMA Fighter Chico "The King" Camus preparing for his January 25th Fight Night on Fox Sports which he won by unanimous decision, because it will be fun :)