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1/11/2013 1:17:09 PM -
Ten Pieces of Advice for the First Time Coach

It occurred to me this morning that some of you will be starting out as first-time coaches with new programs around this time of year. Whether you’ve been hired, or—like me—you’ve convinced some friend of yours to “hire” you on as some football team’s strength and conditioning coach, I thought of a few things you might want to keep in mind before you start assuming that everything is going to go your way. Here are ten things you need to know going in:

1. NOBODY CARES. Seriously, nobody gives a shit about you, or anything you have to say. You know why you’re a strength coach? Because you love this shit. You know why they’re positional coaches and players? Because they don’t love this shit as much as you do. Therefore, nobody in your program will want to talk about lifting weights as much as you do. Deal with it and move on.

2. YOU’RE THE DUMBEST GUY ON THE STAFF. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve been studying, how many clinics you’ve been to, or that you can squat 900 pounds. Everyone else on your staff played football, and they all think they know more about lifting than you do. You’re only there because they don’t feel like babysitting the kids. That’s how it works. From day one, your respect is going to have to be earned—and that includes having guys who can’t lift their way out of paper bags trying to tell you how to teach the kids.

3. MOST OF THE KIDS COULDN’T CARE LESS ABOUT LIFTING. On any high school team of 30-40 kids, you’re going to find five, tops, who care about lifting as much as you do. You’re going to have to find ways to reach the rest, and if you can’t reach them, you’re still going to have to get them results. Again, deal with it.

4. YOUR TIME WITH THE KIDS WILL BE LIMITED. By a wide variety of factors. You’ll be cut short, told you only have a half hour, and all kinds of other shit by people who, the way we see things, just don’t get it. My best advice? Get as much shit done as you can, right away. Use whatever time you have to the best of your ability.

5. YOU’RE NOT GOING TO HAVE ENOUGH EQUIPMENT. College coaches and private trainers, for the most part, don’t have to worry about this stuff, but you will. What if it’s upper body day, your primary upper body exercise is the bench press, and you have 40 kids to train and only two flat benches? This will happen. You’re going to have to figure out a way to get around it.

6. YOU’RE GOING TO GET BLAMED FOR STUFF. So, you don’t like static stretching, huh? You prefer a 30 minute dynamic warm-up that gets the kids’ muscles warm before they train? Sounds good, but when that first hamstring gets pulled, regardless of why it happens, you’re going to get the blame, and your head coach is going to cross off 10 moves of your warm-up and add 10 bullshit 1950’s style hamstring stretches. It’s reality, so expect it.

7. IF YOU BRING YOUR OWN STUFF AND LET THE KIDS USE IT, IT’S EITHER GOING TO BE STOLEN OR BROKEN. Trust me on that one. Don’t bring your brand new set of bands to the school. Go to your head coach, tell him what you need, and let it come out of your athletic department’s budget. This goes back to nobody caring as much as you do. They don’t care about training as much as you do, and they sure as hell don’t know that Christmas morning feeling of opening up a new box of bands. Leave your personal stuff at home.

8. GET MULTIPLE STOPWATCHES, AND MULTIPLE WHISTLES. You’re going to break them and lose them. They’re your best friends as a coach, so make sure you always have both around your neck or in your pocket.

9. EVERY COACH HAS A PLAN UNTIL THE FIRST DUMB KID REALIZES HIS DESTINY. You can plan every workout to the second, and it’s never going to work that way, so you’re going to have to learn to adapt—and you’re going to have to realize that you’ll lose time. Lots of it. Having 90 minute practices stretch to nearly three hours is the norm, not the exception. Be ready for that.

10. WIN YOUR LEAGUE, COUNTY OR STATE CHAMPIONSHIP, AND THE FIRST NINE TIPS HERE WILL MEAN NOTHING. Shit, even winning one damn game makes all of this worthwhile. Begin with that premise in mind, even now in January, and it’ll make going through those first nine steps a lot more meaningful.

Angry Coach

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