Updated: Oct 8, 2019
How do you go about choosing a strength coach? It is a complicated process because there are so many immeasurable variables. Even when experience and credentials are exceedingly high, this does not guarantee a coach will run a successful program. Here is my list of factors that highly influence the way a strength coach formulates his methods. Every parent and school should take note of this, and do their research on these attributes before hiring a coach.
First, you have to look at the coach's personal experience with lifting. Coaches develop their ideas of training through the events that take place when they initially start to train. Someone gifted, naturally strong, and develops quickly has an entirely different set of views in comparison to someone who is not talented, weak, and develops at a slow rate. I often compare this to my experiences with college professors. The most brilliant of instructors could not teach effectively. It was their assumption the student was on their level of intelligence and knowledge, which created a barrier for higher learning.
Second, who the coach learns from is a significant influence on how they develop their ideas about strength training. This is why I say working at high-level facilities, such as college and NFL programs, and Olympic training facilities can distort how to train less gifted athletes. Talented athletes respond to weight resistance training differently from those who are not genetically gifted. They put on muscle at a faster rate, develop balanced musculature, activate fast-twitch muscle fibers more efficiently, and even gain/lose fat differently from the rest of the population.
Third, how a coach continues to utilize his knowledge base and incorporate new training techniques influences the style of how he runs his program. Coaches of year's past are typically more hard-headed, and the younger generation tends to be easily influenced by new ideas. Neither of these approaches is valid. Being too set in your ways and not continually evolving in the right direction is problematic, displaying the inability of using sound judgment. Jumping ship and adopting entirely new training methods, is usually an indicator of self-doubt and lack of knowledge.
Lastly, how a coach treats and looks at his athletes is a significant factor in how they run their program. Respect, inspiration, guidance, and individual attention comes into play here. All of these personality traits are essential in preparing athletes for their sport. Not only is strength optimization affected by these traits, but how much a coach cares for his players directly ties into the safety of his athletes.
On a final note, do not judge a book by its cover. When I say cover, I mean social media. Technology has allowed people to portray something they are not, and this holds very true to coaches, especially when it comes to private training facilities. Parents need to go to the gym they are sending their children to and ask questions. Maybe it is me and my background, but I would never assume my child or his friends are capable of determining who is worthy to instruct them.
Questions or comment: please feel free to email me: Gareth@hcpbarbell.com