Coaches: Use Your Quarantine Time Wisely

Fun fact: the daily routine in our house hasn’t changed much the last four weeks other than we are training at home rather than the gym.

Lack of Control

As I sit here writing this article, my family and I are on day 29 of a quarantine – which was initially voluntary but then turned into a mandatory policy to stay at home. The world has stood still and life has slowed down for almost everyone. The end date is yet to be determined.

All eyes are on COVID-19 and how it is tearing through the world. There are amazing and brave people out there. One of our athletes, Courtney Haldeman, goes to work daily as an RN here in our city, just waiting for the fallout to happen. So far, they are not overrun so they have had a bit more time to prepare than some of the hot zones like New York. The bottom line is this: there are so many things going on with this virus that are out of our control. The virus doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, black or white, homeless or live in a fancy mansion, famous, an athlete, young or old, etc. We are all facing the same thing. Unfortunately, some have been hit harder than others financially, and it breaks my heart to see so many people struggling in this industry who were thriving just last month.

The fitness world has been hit hard by this pandemic. For anyone who works in a setting coaching athletes face to face, you have had to be quick on your feet, think outside the box, and learn to adapt to the new normal. For those of us who have an online presence, we have also had to think on our feet as some of our athletes lost access to gym equipment and some have been hit financially with job losses. There are definitely more things that are out of our control than are within our control.

What We Can Control

At this point, all we can do is focus on what we can control. Two of the things we as coaches can control are:

  • Our perspective and attitude
  • How we utilize our time daily
Keep Improving!

Professional development is so important to us as coaches. Many of us are consumed by our daily commitments to our athletes and/or to our gyms that we don’t have the time (or we don’t take the time) we would like to advance our own learning or to create content. This is a chink in a lot of coaches’ armor, and now is the time to change that. There are so many resources at the touch of a finger.

Now, there are two sides to this coin. There are the new coaches who need to be sponges and soak up as much information as possible. Then, there are the coaches with years and years of experience who can take this time to teach the new coaches. I personally fall in the middle – but more toward the former. I am knowledgeable and have experience under my belt, but I still have so much more to learn. The day a coach stops learning is the day the coach needs to stop coaching. The tool box can never be too big!

STRENGTH UNIVERSITY VIDEO CURRICULUM

THE PERFECT WAY TO GROW IN KNOWLEDGE DURING THIS TIME OF SOCIAL DISTANCING

It's finally here... Learn about technique, programming, assessment, and coaching from a master. For strength coaches and for athletes, these 53 videos (7 hours and 56 minutes of footage) will prepare you to understand the main lifts for maximum performance and safety. Get ready to learn...

Here are ways to advance yourself during this time:

  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Be honest with yourself.
  • Create content on subjects you identify as strengths. This will help you to enhance your own knowledge while helping younger coaches expand theirs.
  • Look for resources you can use to further your knowledge in areas that you identify as weaknesses. Even the most experienced of coaches have areas they can improve on.
  • Create a daily schedule for family, work, and professional development. This will look different for everyone based on family and work obligations. Put aside 30 minutes to an hour minimum daily to work on your professional development. This could include taking a course, reading a book, reviewing articles, or watching roundtable videos.

There are many resources out there – some are good and some are not so good. Make sure what you choose is backed by science and is evidence based. Young coaches can often make the mistake of taking a seasoned coach’s opinion as science. The mistake comes from following blindly rather than doing their own research. When you read or watch something, don’t just take it at face value. Follow up with your own research and make your own conclusions based on your findings. Seasoned coaches, provide content to newer coaches that is backed by science and not just your opinion. Just because you teach something a certain way or include/exclude an exercise based on personal preference, does not mean that it is an absolute or the law. There is nothing wrong with sharing an opinion – just be sure to express that it is your preference or opinion rather than a “should” or “must.”

Stay Productive

I’m not exempt from my own advice! I have been working on my own professional development the last four weeks in quarantine. It was challenging to start, but creating a schedule and making lists has made it much more manageable to be productive each day. Here are some ways that I am working on myself as a coach:

  • Coaching athletes – Technology has been absolutely amazing with applications like Zoom. Here at Mash Elite, we have started doing Zoom training sessions with our onsite athletes. We have also opened it up to our online athletes, which is a newly added feature for them!
  • Analyzing athlete videos – Travis started doing more of this the last couple of weeks with a combination of Coach’s Eye and Bar Path. It has been amazing. I do video analysis for our online athletes as they post in our Facebook group, but recently, I have started taking videos from the side or asking online athletes to send me videos. Using the apps I just spoke of, I can analyze videos in new ways to show my athletes how they can improve their bar path. It also allows me to post the video on social media and teach other coaches. This helps others – but it also makes me a better coach as I articulate the lift.
  • Reading content on subject matters I have identified as weaknesses – I don’t want to just be a one trick pony. One of my weaknesses in particular is speed work. When this is all over, one of my goals is to be more knowledgeable in this area.
  • Staying in touch with my mentors – Talking shop via phone, Zoom, or Facetime is an awesome (and entertaining) way to increase your knowledge. Just recently, while writing new programs, Travis and I had a great conversation about the parameters to elicit hypertrophy with a no-equipment or minimal-equipment program.
  • Seeking out online continuing education courses – Because of social distancing, many platforms have moved to being online. For most courses, you can get the same educational experience as you can with a live course (minus the networking and practical portions if applicable).
  • Creating an exercise library – this will be of benefit to our athletes and other coaches to better teach movements.

Will you be productive every minute of every day? No. But I promise you this: the time you do spend on your professional development will make you a better coach – which will in turn make your athletes better.

Resources

Here are some resources I personally recommend that have been extremely helpful to me. They are all based on science and all coaches involved are very reputable.

  • Strength University – we recently launched an eight-unit online curriculum that covers all the areas we at Mash Elite Performance are known for. Travis covers assessments, mobility, movements, flaws, fixing flaws, and much more. I can promise you I am not just telling you this for a sale. I spent several days going through the entire curriculum creating print-outs for the course – and I learned so much in subjects I already thought I already knew well!
    You can go here to purchase: Strength University

STRENGTH UNIVERSITY VIDEO CURRICULUM

THE PERFECT WAY TO GROW IN KNOWLEDGE DURING THIS TIME OF SOCIAL DISTANCING

It's finally here... Learn about technique, programming, assessment, and coaching from a master. For strength coaches and for athletes, these 53 videos (7 hours and 56 minutes of footage) will prepare you to understand the main lifts for maximum performance and safety. Get ready to learn...

  • Stronger Experts – This is a panel of strength coaches with expertise in various areas. They are always creating amazing new content. There is a monthly or yearly subscription that gets you access to all of their content. I have yet to watch or read anything on Stronger Experts where I didn’t learn something!
    You can learn more here: Stronger Experts
  • Stronger by Science (MASS) – If you follow us at all, you have heard us talk about Greg Nuckols. He is a researcher and is extremely good at his job. He and his colleagues do the work for you. They do all the research on subject matters and put it together in very well written, easy to understand articles. There is a monthly or yearly subscription that gives you access to all of their content.
    You can learn more here: Stronger by Science
  • Two Brain Business – I am late to the party on this business as they have been working to make gyms successful for a while now. I found them in the midst of this pandemic, and they have done an amazing job of providing valuable information to the fitness industry on how to stay profitable through it.
    Check out their Instagram page: Two Brain Business

Of course there are other resources out there, but these are most definitely my top four. They are also four very different platforms providing you with access to videos, journals, and multiple experts in their field.

When you emerge from this quarantine, will you be carrying a larger tool box? I know I will!

Author:
About Crystal: Crystal is Travis’ right hand person! She is a USA Weightlifting National Coach and holds her NSCA – Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification. She is an RN with a Masters degree in Nurse Education. She also holds multiple other certifications to include CFL2, USATF, Precision Nutrition, and Flex Diet. She is also an international elite ranked powerlifter.

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