There’s a funny aspect of coaching where you need to strike a balance between your involvement and your objectivity. I think the best coaches are driven by a passion to make those they have the privilege of working with better, but they then need to take the proper steps back not to let their own desires become the focus. That’s a little bit of the secret sauce of it all, really. You are trusted with being the steward of your trainee’s talent and desires. To use a legal concept (because why the hell not), you are like the executor and manager of a trust – you have a good faith obligation to what has been entrusted to you.
And trust is such a perfect word and concept because it hits the dual-meaning of duty and also that you are entrusted with the faith your trainee placed in you.
This takes on a new level if the trainee/athlete/student is personally very close to you. The thing that drives you as a coach adds in a new, very strong variable of that relationship… which can be good and bad. Good in that you are even more committed than usual to a great end result, but bad if… again… the objectivity is lost or the desired end state of your trainee gets steamrolled.
I just started working with my oldest nephew just over 2 weeks ago to really get him weight training for the first time. He did a little bit in fits and starts with the high school baseball team this past year, but this is his first foray into a structured and very consistent program. I had my own coach work this up for him as I guide him through it.
Each session we’ve had is a learning experience for both of us. For him, he is seeing what a well-thought out program of strength, power, mobility, movement prep and conditioning looks like. For me, I’m seeing what it means to consistently coach someone else on all aspects of strength & conditioning and figuring out how to do this for what he wants… not what Uncle Kevin wants.
It’s essentially a twist on the baseball coaching I’ve done with my 2 oldest nephews for the last 8 or 9 years. The difference here is in baseball, it’s balanced by the need to focus on all the players. In this case? It’s one-on-one. It would be easy to get all out of sorts and take every bit of how each session goes overly personally.
So what to do? How to find the magic point in all of this between passion and objectivity? I think for the near future (and maybe longer), it’s going to be fairly simple: focus on getting my nephew to enjoy the whole process. That’s honestly it – if I make that my success criteria, the rest of the details will take care of themselves. Progress will be made and progress, my friends, is the great hook of hooks.
Sometimes your best course of action as a coach is to get out of your own way, stop spending so much time overthinking every nuance with your trainee and just let their enjoyment be the guide. And maybe you’ll have a little fun more coaching fun in the process too.