Coach's Log 9/23/16: Don't Make Things Harder

The Coach's Log is something I've done privately, nearly every week, since I began training professionally. It's a debriefing for myself, with reflections from the past week and notes on things I learned from my clients, research, and my own training reflections. I thought it would be beneficial to share with everyone, as you can get a better idea of the things I think about as a trainer. 



There's something I have to remind myself of pretty often. I know better, but there's always acute reminders of this reality slapping me in the face:

There's a difference between being unable to do something because of physical or orthopedic limitation, and being unable to do something because you don't know how. 


As sometimes over analytical trainers, we often assume a faulty movement pattern on the part of a client or trainee is the result of some old injury, tightness, knot, or impediment. But sometimes, it's just the result of a person not knowing what you mean, or what you're asking of them. That's a problem of coaching. As Rorion Gracie famously said, "there's no such thing as bad students, just bad teachers". 

So how can you tell if it's bad coaching vs faulty movement pattern due to impediment?

I ask these questions of myself:

1) What's their training history?

  • In some ways, this consideration may be more important than their health history because it informs you of what patterns of movement they may have picked up and overly relied on, which in turn, we have to undo. If they're veterans of the gym or any sports, it may be a dead giveaway that they're struggling because of bad development, Motor skills or otherwise. 
  • If they're "blank slates" and are learning the art of movement for the first time, you may just be dealing with someone acquiring new motor skills. Remember learning to write, ride a bike or swim? That's what you're dealing with here. 


2) What's their health history?

  • Surgeries, childhood injuries that were never dealt with, or any number of medically diagnosable health issues can also affect movement and be signs of bad movement patterns needing to be fixed. 


From these two questions, I can usually figure out if it's a poorly learned pattern, injury induced, or just someone not knowing how to do something.

If you're a trainer and you're reading this, you may very well be a very "active" thinker. We spend a lot of time studying, analyzing and coming up with programs, all for the good of the client and the knowledge we bring to the table. Sometimes though, we get caught up in whatever higher-level concept we've been pondering that week, and we forget how there's also a world of simple problems we are more than qualified to fix with the knowledge we already possess. In other words, we're making it harder on ourselves!

To put it simply (pun intended): Don't make things more difficult unless the situation is actually difficult. Simplicity is usually the remedy and really the only place to start.