Being A Dangerous Coach
“A jack of all trades is a master of none, but is often times better than a master of one.”
I post a lot of training content and information online. Definitely not as much as many in the industry do, but I try to put out information in multiple formats and on multiple platforms that make it easy to understand training. Recently I realized
something though, because as I was posting something on Twitter I came to realize that there are multiple sides to my coaching and training and they are reflected differently across the varying social platforms. On Instagram, I am a weightlifting coach or Personal Trainer. On Facebook I am a High School Strength Coach and Personal Trainer, and on Twitter I am a High School Strength Coach and Youth Coach (doing work in Long Term Athletic Development).
So which one is really me? What kind of coach am I?
I struggled with that for a while, until recently I realized that I am not any of them and all of them simultaneously. All of what I do is interlinked. My knowledge of training kids has had a profound impact on how I train weightlifters and athletes. My background in strength sports has a huge impact on how I train high school and youth athletes. All of these things have impacted how I train general population personal training clients. I’m not a coach in a specific arena, I’m just a coach. And there’s a lot to unpack there.
We live in a world of hyper-specificity. We specialize in sports and even career fields early in our development, never branching out to develop a wide array of skills. But here is the thing, what if those broad skill sets made you better in any skill set when the time arose? What happens when you get so specific into a sport, or a field of work, that you begin to lose the ability be the best in that chosen endeavor?
David Epstein (no relation to Jeffrey) outlines this extremely well in his book "Range: Why Generalists Triumph In A Specialized World", about how skills transfer from one domain to another. Epstein highlights scenarios in realms of sports, business, the arts, and more, that broad experience and lateral thinking leads to greater success across all fields. The more specific we get into a single field, the more we lose the ability to solve problems due to the lack of ability to think outside of it.
This brings us back to trying to figure out what kind of coach I really am. The beauty of it is, that it doesn't actually matter. Coaching, and life, in a way is like Mixed Martial Arts, except without as much head trauma and broken bones. The most "dangerous" in the octagon is the individual who knows enough about many domains to hold their own. In coaching, the individual who knows something about coaching kids and physical literacy development, and has experience working with strength athletes, may have more success in working with athletes because they can draw on skills in motor development and on skills in developing maximal power output. A skilled coach in sport performance with experience in training general population may produce some great weightlifters, because they can draw on their experience to help develop power and speed while also utilizing their skills in communicating with adults (who often make up the greater population of weightlifters and powerlifters).
The goal then, is not to be the coach with a hyper-specific focus on a special population. You may gradually become more biased in one, but the greatest benefit you can have is to be dangerous in multiple domains of physical development. To learn enough about nuanced topics that you can utilize that knowledge and apply it a different domain. To be dangerous as a coach is to be able to apply broad knowledge to specific circumstances.
So what type of coach am I? A dangerous one. And I hope you will be too.