FMS.  SFMA.  PRI.  DNS.  NKT.  Most reading this blog will have no idea what these letters stand for, nor any clue on how they can be beneficial to them.  To clarify, these are acronyms for some of the most popular certifications available to us in the health & performance industry.  It is clear that formal post-secondary education leaves gaps that need to be filled by professional practitioners.  It is my belief that this industry is better than ever because of our collective willingness to continue learning, but more importantly, teach.  It seems that many coaches and therapists are going to great lengths to broaden their knowledge base to be able to help their clients/patients to the absolute best of their ability.  I find this very encouraging and admirable, but when is it enough?  Does an abundance of knowledge directly translate to your client?

As I have mentioned in a few of my past writings, as a coach I am spending less and less time on advancing my theoretical knowledge in the physical domain and placing more emphasis on the psychological, emotional and cognitive learning domain.  In short, I am becoming more of a COACH.  The Cambridge Dictionary defines a coach as “someone whose job is to teach people to improve at a sport, skill or school subject.” That is a very broad definition isn’t it?

What makes a good coach?  In last weekend’s stunning Super Bowl, the New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick demonstrated why many believe he is the greatest football coach of all time.  Is he the best at Xs and Os?  Probably not.  But he wins, and no one can deny that.  He and quarterback Tom Brady have become the best coach/quarterback combo of all time (trust me, it hurts me to say this, but it is true).  Brady was an unheralded player who showed very average physical abilities in his NFL Combine performance.  He was a slow, milk bag body quarterback with a chip on his shoulder, and was subsequently drafted 199th overall.  He has since gone on to be (arguably) the best player in the history of the game.  How?  Besides his exceptional intelligence, he displays outstanding leadership qualities and incomparable drive and desire to win.  My theory is that Belichick was able to bring these qualities which were lurking below the surface to light and mold Brady into the player that he is today.  Belichick was able to get the best out of Brady, to COACH him.

Coaching is more than knowing the Xs and Os.  It is more than providing discipline and structure.  It is about making meaningful connections with those who you are leading.  Many of my colleagues spend countless hours and dollars on new certifications to improve their encyclopedia of knowledge, yet cannot lead their clients to increased performances because performance is not proven on paper.  One of the best track and field coaches of our time is Dan Pfaff.  This is a guy who understands the most minute details of his sport, and can pick up a subtle mechanical error by simply watching 40 meters of sprinting, yet he understands that there is much more to his success.  This quote by Dan highlights exactly where I am going “The art of communication is every bit as much a science as that of the physical training of the body.”  Boom.

One of the coaches that I have become more and more fascinated with is Brett Bartholomew.  On top of being one of the most sought after strength coaches in America, Brett has been busy writing a book, Conscious Coaching.  I am very excited to read an entire book of his thoughts on the subject, as I know that this is the next evolution in my career.  This excerpt is what I expect myself to be as a coach “A conscious coach is someone who sees the big picture and is able to balance the science and art of coaching.  Someone who understands all the technical material but is also comfortable adapting it for a given athlete’s needs.”

In the coming months, my blog postings will be focussed on this journey and how I am becoming the coach that I want to be, and that my athletes need me to be.  Please stay tuned as I share this ride with you and hopefully enlighten you along the way.



Shane Pizzey