3 Ways the Internet is Making You a WORSE Coach (And How to Fix it!)

I’m just going to throw this out there, but I think the Internet is making you a worse coach.

Don’t believe me? Consider this…

  • How many times have you seen a coaching video and thought, “Why am I not using that exercise?”
  • Or seen someone else’s program and thought, “I should’ve written my program that way!”
  • Or listened to someone else speak or coach and thought, “Man I didn’t even think of that!”

Whether it’s second-guessing yourself, taking in too much information, or simply not having a filter, the Internet isn’t always your best friend when it comes to professional development.

Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the Internet or social media are bad for leveling up your training, coaching or rehabilitation game – because they’re not.

But they can stunt your growth if you don’t understand how to use them appropriately.

Bill Hartman often uses the analogy of a young superhero learning how to harness their super powers.

I think the Internet is kind of like that, too – you have to figure out how to use it best to really maximize its value.

So here are three ways the Interwebz could be holding you back as a trainer or coach, and simple ways you can take back control over your thought process and coaching.

#1 – You Immediately ASSUME Others are Correct

One thing that can be tough about listening to other people on the Internet – whether it’s on their site, social media feed, etc. – is to admire how they talk with (and exude) so much confidence.

I’m the first to admit that it’s difficult to qualify every statement you make in a blog or video without totally washing out the point you’re trying to make in the process.

But with that being said, you also have to realize that just because someone talks with confidence…

…has a ripped set of abs or toned arms…

…or has a million followers on the ‘Gram, doesn’t mean they know what the hell they’re talking about!

Since I’m working almost exclusively in the basketball space now, I get sent videos almost daily of high-level NBA athletes working with “fitness professionals” that seem to be more interested in getting views and likes then getting an actual training effect for their clients.

So how do you strengthen your filter and learn from the right people?

The Fix: Seek Out Trusted Experts FIRST

One of the best thing you can do to develop a filter is to go to trusted and respected coaches FIRST.

If you’re new to the game, or simply looking to branch out, here are a handful of coaches I think you could learn a lot from:

  • Bill Hartman,
  • Eric Cressey,
  • Joel Jamieson,
  • Lee Taft,
  • Joe Kenn,
  • Buddy Morris,
  • Derek Hansen,
  • Dr. Stuart McGill,
  • Chris Chase,
  • Ryan Horn,
  • Lachlan Wilmot,
  • Jeremy Frisch,
  • Darcy Norman,
  • Keir-Wenham-Flatt,
  • Robbie Bourke,
  • Dan John
  • Mladen Jovanovic,

And I’m sure there are a ton more, but this list is getting long and you should have more than enough people to start with 🙂

What you’ll find, though, is the more you see what real-world experts are doing, the more you’ll start to develop a filter for what simply amounts to BS training.

Remember that at the end of the day, the goal is to get a training effect for your client or athlete.

A regular ‘ol goblet squat may not get you 2,987 likes on social media, but I can assure you it will probably help your clients move better, feel better, and build some muscle or shed some body fat along the way.

#2 – You Take in Too Much Information and Overanalyze Everything

When I first got into strength and conditioning, there were a small handful of “legit” websites to get information from.

T-Nation.

Elite Fitness.

And maybe one or two others that popped up along the way.

But by and large, you could consume all the information from those outlets because it came in a reasonable dose.

Nowadays?

Fugeddaboutit.

Now you have what feels like a bazillion websites and blogs to choose from.

Everybody and their mother has a podcast.

And that’s before we mention the fire hose that are social media streams like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the YouTubez!

So how on Earth do we process all this information?

The easy answer?

We don’t….

The Fix: Limit Your Intake but Actually Apply It

It’s funny but one of the biggest issues I see nowadays are young coaches who can quote and reference out their ass, but don’t necessarily understand how something is applied.

Joe Kenn and I have had this conversation on numerous occasions.

You’re talking to a new coach or trainer who is trying to impress you, you ask them a question about strength/speed/power/whatever, and they basically recite something another coach said.

And look when you’re just starting out that’s totally fine – I did that myself!

But the goal is to take in information and then actually apply it.

Learn to understand when maximal effort works, and when it may not be ideal.

Figure out how to prescribe tempo runs, but then determine who they may not be appropriate for.

Learn the theory behind triple-block periodization, and then figure out who actually needs it.

The goal isn’t to blindly take in as much information as possible and turn into a walking human encyclopedia.

Instead, the goal is to take in less information, but actually learn how to use it correctly.

Start with one of the coaches I referenced above who is in the same training space as you are, and really dive into their work.

But don’t just take it at face value.

Try it out, see how it works, and then tweak and refine it to your own specific situation.

#3 – You Don’t Trust Your Instincts, Eyes and Observations

This is an issue I’ve seen for years, but I feel like it’s only getting worse as time goes on.

When I was regularly in charge of interns at IFAST, it was common for them to have a period of time in the middle of their internship where they actually got WORSE as a coach.

How could that be?

They’d been on the floor for weeks – or months – up to that point.

They’d learn a ton about training and coaching.

And ultimately, they should’ve been performing better.

So what gives?

It was simple – they were overthinking and overanalyzing, instead of just relaxing and coaching.

Now I also realize that “relaxing and coaching” isn’t always easier, especially when your boss, supervisor or internship coordinator is on the floor at the same time.

So how do we address this?

How to Fix It: If it Looks Right, It Flies Right

Dan Pfaff (who I probably should have on the list above), is notorious for the saying above:

“If it looks right, it flies right.”

When a lot of young coaches are getting started, they want to know the WHY behind everything.

  • Why does that client have that hard arch in their back when they squat?
  • Why are their hips rotated that way when they split/squat or lunge?
  • Why is their head dropping down when they do a push-up?

And wanting to know the why is fine.

In fact, I’d implore you to spend the rest of your coaching lifetime trying to figure those why’s out!

But here’s the big takeaway with this: Just becuase you don’t know the why, doesn’t mean you can’t fix or coach the movement right now!

You know that hard arch in the squat is hurting their back, so have them reach a bit more and unlock their knees.

Put your hands on their hips to square them back up with they split-squat or lunge.

Or cue them to “bring your head back to my hand” when they’re doing push-ups.

You may not know exactly WHY something is happening, but it’s your job as a trainer or coach to fix the big stuff – the obvious stuff – to help your clients and athletes move better.

After all, that’s why we get paid the big bucks!

Summary

The Internet and social media aren’t inherently evil places.

Used judiciously and wisely, you can actually learn a ton from them.

Just make sure to spend your time wisely, learning from trusted experts, and actually applying the things you learn vs. reciting them to sound smart.

If you can learn to harness the power of the World Wide Web, I have great faith you’re going to be a better trainer, coach or rehab professional going forward!

All the best,
MR

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