Over the last 3 years I have interviewed a lot of people who were interested in becoming strength coaches as well has having worked with a large number of actual coaches. Below is a list of 5 essential characteristics individuals must hold in order to be successful in the industry.
Passion for working with people. Passion is contagious. If a coach is passionate when they engage their athletes, there’s a very good chance that they will be able to boost the performance of the athletes and help to create better training experiences, results and compliance to the demands of year round training. The inverse is absolutely true – a coach who lacks passion will lower the performance of their athletes. Passion may not be enough to reach all of the people you train but it is absolutely critical for reaching those people who can be reached.
Seeing gaining knowledge and experiences as valuable uses of your time. Unless you are really good, very experienced or own the training centre, there’s a good chance that the money you earn will be kind of low. For this reason, you need to be able to see the value that time with the athletes, creating programs and running the centre. These experiences are what will make you a better coach and allow you to demand more money in the future. You will not learn everything you need to know at school and don’t really have a choice but to gain years of experience before you can consider yourself a professional. If you don’t hold your professional development in a high regard, this industry isn’t the right one for you.
The ability to accept that other people know more than you. Given that you are there to learn and gain experience, you need to be open to just how little you know about particular things. Part of this is regarding others as experts or as more expert than you are.
The ability to listen and hear what other people are saying. This applies to other strength coaches, skills coaches, parents, bosses, clients and athletes. Everyone has an agenda and great strength coaches are able to uncover the critical needs of all the individuals involved and create a plan that helps address all of their main objectives. Talking to the athletes is the only way you are going to be able to uncover injuries and gauge subjective progress. Your ability to hear what is being said is critical in creating a plan that addresses the actual needs of your clients vs. your perceived needs. For example, you may believe that all athletes should be lean but there are a few conditions that would require that some hold more body fat than others. Unless you listen and hear what everyone is saying, you could end up creating a lesser athlete based on your own belief of what is needed.
A willingness to try new things and follow the advice you give to other people. This is critical because other people can see you walking the walk and if you don’t, they are less inclined to listen to what you say. You are also going to be more convincing if you have done what you are asking your athlete to do. This doesn’t mean that you need to play football or have played football in order for you to coach a football player in the gym, but it does mean you should have tried the nutrition plan you are giving your athletes, tried the training method you are prescribing or have a good level of efficiency in the movements you are coaching. Sitting at the front desk eating chocolate eggs while telling people to reduce their refined sugar intake doesn’t cut it if you want people to eat less sugar. Deadlifting with a rounded back while coaching someone to keep their hips low doesn’t cut it. Telling someone how to power clean based on what you read in a book or saw on YouTube isn’t the best way to coach their movements.
The job of strength coach is a fun and rewarding one. Just make sure you have what it takes before you enter this field because if you don’t, you’re not going to last.