Working WITH Your Athletes

It’s a pretty simple thought. Strength and Conditioning Coaches work with athletes. Hopefully that is straight forward enough. What I want to get into today is quite simply how to do that more effectively.

What I see far too often in the world of Strength and Conditioning is the “I know best” attitude. I have absolutely been guilty of this myself at times, but basically this is when coaches just assume they know all of what an athlete needs in their program and develop it with little to no consultation with the athlete themselves.

As much as I do believe the coach should be the authority figure around what is done in the gym, your athletes input is far too valuable to ignore. As easy as it might be to just take over, if your view on what the athlete needs is far off from theirs, you are asking for trouble.

One thing I always try to ask my athletes is very simple. “What is your biggest need right now?” At first it was uncomfortable to ask this, as it made me feel like I didn’t have the answers I was supposed to have. I soon realized that it opens me up for a number of different possibilities.

  1. We are already on the same page and the current program is going great. No changes needed right now.
  2. The athlete is thinking differently than I am about where the focus should lie in their program.

This always opens up a great discussion. It helps the athlete think more deeply about their program, their performance in sport and their needs, and gives me better insight as to how I can make the biggest difference possible in my role as the S&C coach.

As a strength and conditioning coach we all love working with our athletes. However, the BEST way to make sure you are delivering the best coaching you can is to communicate clearly with your athletes, and develop a plan that they have some input on in order to make sure you are working together and remain on the same page.