3 Ways to Level Up Your Coaching

Luigi-leadBack in the day, I was a huge video game nerd.

Growing up in the country, there wasn’t much else to do.

If it was nice I’d go outside and hit baseballs, kick the soccer ball, or shoot some hoops.

But if it rained? There wasn’t much else to do other than go inside and play video games.

And let me tell you – I loved me some video games.

In fact, I loved them so much that I would not allow myself to have a console the entire time I was in college, because I wouldn’t get anything done!

(Random aside: The day after I graduated Grad School, I got an XBOX and proceeded to play Halo for two or three days straight. The fact that my wife didn’t disown me then is still beyond my comprehension.)

So when it comes to training and life, the term “Level Up” always come to mind. I’m always looking for ways to “Level Up” in regards to the things I’m passionate about.

One of the things I care about the most (outside of my family) is my coaching. The unique bond that you create with your clients and athletes is really second to none.

If you share that passion with me, here are three ways you can go about leveling up your own coaching success.

Level Up #1 – Train Yourself

All of us get into coaching because we are passionate about helping others achieve their goals.

But before we started coaching others, chances are we spent a lot of time in the gym ourselves trying to get better.

What’s unfortunate (and I’ve been guilty of this in the past myself), is putting the coaching and training needs of others in front of our own.

The summer of 2013 was a whirlwind for me, as I was doing a ton of personalized coaching.

I was training Big Roy.

I was training two elite youth soccer players.

And these were additions to my already hectic schedule.

As such, my own training took a nosedive. I was still training, but it was a lot more sporadic and much less focused.

However, once I got back on track and started training seriously again, it reminded me of a simple fact:

We are inherently better coaches when we, ourselves, are training hard.

You don’t need to be a world class lifter, or anything of the sort. But you need to be putting in work and getting better.

When you are coaching yourself, you’re forced to feel movements again.

You learn little tips, tricks and “hacks” on how to perform the movements you’re coaching on a daily basis.

Second, I firmly believe that if you want to coach a lift, you should be able to execute that lift.

Again, you don’t need to be world class, but you need to be able to demonstrate solid technique because your athletes that are visual learners need that feedback.

Third, when you are pushing yourself in the gym, you have instant street cred with your athletes. They intuitively know that you’re training hard, and you have yet another way to relate to them.

I don’t care how amazing your training program is, or how great your coaching skills are. At the end of the day, you have to be able to relate to the person standing in front of you. You have to create a bond, and they have to know that you are there to help them.

Training and pushing yourself in the gym is one way to improve and create that bond.

Level Up #2 – Train Others

A few weeks back, I was doing a podcast and the host asked about some of the big issues that I see in coaching.

It’s a great question, and the answer comes from an evolution within the fitness industry over the years.

When I was coming up, we prided ourselves on how much time we spent in the gym.

You wanted to be the first one in and last one out, just to prove that you were serious and dedicated to your craft.

But these days, things just feel different.

Now it seems as though many young coaches are much more focused on what they know, versus their actual coaching ability.

The key distinction here is knowledge versus experience. And I hate to break it to you, but no amount of knowledge will ever make up for a lack of experience!

When you train others, first and foremost you develop your observation skills.

This stuff isn’t served up on a platter for you – you need to critically evaluate your clients and athletes to determine what they do well, and what they need to improve upon.

Second, coaching people forces you to improve your communication skills.

It doesn’t matter if you know what a squat or deadlift should look like – you need to able to communicate and convey that to your clients and athletes!

And last but not least, there’s a huge chasm between knowing how to do something, and how to actually coach it.

I used to play a game with all of my incoming interns on their first day working with me. I’d take them through all of the various foam rolling exercises we use at IFAST, and along the way, there would invariably be one who thought they were too damn smart and this was beneath them.

Then, I’d turn around and have that intern coach one of his buddies on how to do the exercise.

It was like watching a baby giraffe learn how to walk!

But needless to say, it was a great learning experience because it demonstrated very quickly to them the difference between having a skill, and being able to coach it.

Level Up #3 – Continue to Educate Yourself

Last but not least, if you want to continue to grow as a coach, you must continue to grow and evolve.

I’ve met individuals in this industry who assume that because they’ve been doing this for 15, 20 or 25 years that they’re indoctrinated as “good trainers.”

But here’s the bad news – no amount of time assures you of being “good.”

I’d much rather hire a curious trainer or coach who has five years of unique experience, than the one who has repeated the same year over and over 25 times!

You don’t get better by living in your little corner of the fitness world – you have to get out there and expose yourself to see what other trainers and coaches are doing.

I’d like to think I’m a pretty darn good coach at this point, but I’m always humbled when I go to a course and learn from other fitness pros.

I may be good at what I do, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have continual room for improvement!

Just in the past few months, I’ve gotten to hang around guys like Joe Kenn, Buddy Morris, Joe DeFranco and Martin Rooney.

If you can listen to these guys and not be inspired, or not feel as though you can get light years better, then something is wrong with you.

And you don’t have to go to a course and blow up everything you do.

For myself, I’ve got a system that I work from, but it’s a constant work in progress.

For me, I go to a seminar to take away little nuggets or pearls of wisdom. I want little things that will tweak and refine my system to take it to the next level.

Quite simply, continuing to educate yourself is a sure-fire way to make sure that you continue to grow and evolve as a coach.


So there you have it, three simple things you can start doing now, TODAY, to Level Up your coaching.

Can you do one of these and get better? Sure.

Can you do two? Absolutely – and you’ll see a difference.

But I’ve found over the years that the best coaches in world do all three of these things on a consistent basis.

Challenge yourself to do all three of these things on a weekly, or even a daily basis.

And then be prepared to see your coaching success skyrocket!

All the best


(Lead photo courtesy of JD Hancock)

(If you want to see the most awesome bedroom EVER, look at this ==> Casey Fleser)


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