As the beginning of another hockey off-season is here, and all of the athletes are returning to regular training; I find myself speaking with potential new clients (athlete and parents). Usually that conversation starts with me asking, “what is it I can do for you?” The answer to this is typically an explanation about how this coach or that coach has said the player is “too slow,” or “needs to work on their ‘foot-speed,'” or “get stronger,” and my favourite, needs to “loose a little weight, in order to get faster.”
Well, sure these anecdotal reports from coach are fine as a jumping off point to ignite conversation; but they don’t hold a lot of weight with me because 1) they are anecdotal and I don’t know the qualification of the coach/parent/agent who is making the observation and 2) they didn’t answer my question. What is it that I can do for YOU?
Parsing this question reveals the fundamental cornerstone of my philosophy as a coach. I am here to serve the athlete. Not the coach, not the parent, not the agent and certainly not the uniformed analyst, regurgitating something a coach told him/her in 1980 when she/he “used to play.”
Now, let’s get this straight. This doesn’t mean that I am opposed to speaking with other invested parties, in order to create a full picture of the athletes opportunities for growth. It does mean that I will take these observations with a grain of salt, and defer to what is ultimately in the BEST INTEREST OF THE AHLETE! As, these are not always one in the same.
So what exactly is my role as a strength and conditioning coach? Like all things in this world, it depends.
I once had a parent introduce me to a peer as the athletes, “I don’t know, what do I call you, counsellor who he works out with sometimes?”
This interaction always makes me smile, because in spite of all the terrific leaps and bounds the athlete had made as a player; what stuck out the most to this parent was the day to day social and emotional affect of the training time.
SO, what is my ROLE?!
NUMBER 1: DO NO HARM!
This applies to both physical and emotional. An injured athlete is no good to anyone, as is a broken athlete. Train Smart, Communicate Smarter.
NUMBER 2: CREATE A POSITIVE RELATIONSHIP WITH TRAINING
Percentages dictate that a small number of the athletes I work with will play pro, but they should all live full and active lives after they are done playing.
NUMBER 3: MAXIMIZE ATHLETIC POTENTIAL
Identify deficiencies and areas for opportunity. Work on those using sound rationale.
NUMBER 4: DO NO HARM!
This is the MOST important role of a strength and conditioning coach. You are the gatekeeper. You must act as a conduit for good information, proper technique, moderating workload, shielding the athlete from undue/misinformed criticism and building their confidence. DO NOT take this lightly and think you are just there to slap together programs and collect a paycheque. YOU WILL NOT LAST and ATHLETES WILL GET HURT!
As always, thank you for reading. Please comment, provide feedback, share and get the conversation going!