The Combination of Coaching and Programming: Part 1

Note: This article is in three parts. The first article looks at the relationship of the training plan and the way it is coached. The second article focuses on improving both parts of the overall process. The third is coming soon.

I’ve been lucky to work under a Head S&C coach that puts just as much focus on HOW he coaches as WHAT he coaches. His philosophy (I’m paraphrasing here) is that the way you coach something is just as important, if not more important than what you are coaching. Of course, you can’t take this to the extreme and focus entirely on how you coach, because the quality of your training plans will slip. If I have a newbie 100m sprinter and all I have in his program is curls, it doesn’t matter in the slightest how well I coach him and coach the lift he is doing. He simply won’t get better because the program is not up to par. On the other hand, if there is no focus on how something is coached, the situation is far from optimal as well. For example, I could give a program to that same newbie sprinter that has hundreds of hours of research, testing and design put into it. However, if I don’t coach it, the program will not be implemented in the way it was intended, thus decreasing its effectiveness.

The trick then, is to find a happy medium between the two. You need to make a program that is built around the athlete’s needs – his physical strengths and weaknesses, injury status, and the needs of his sport. The program should be designed in advance to ensure that the training process is organized and periodized to maximize the training effect. Once this program is completed, it is HOW you coach that becomes important.

While a program is being implemented, adjustments nearly always need to be made. The cues and direction you give an athlete are always based upon the things that will currently help them the most (which could be completely different from what was needed the previous day). The program will be changed based on the gym conditions, athlete’s amount of sleep, stress level, injury status, among many other things. The coaching that goes on to implement the program is what ties everything in, and makes it work for the athlete.

Without either of these things, the overall effectiveness of training decreases. When a solid program is put together with good coaching, great progress occurs.

What are your thoughts?