Coach vs. Trainer

I take the title of Strength and Conditioning COACH very seriously. I am technically a personal trainer as well, but I also do see a very big difference in the title of coach versus trainer. After being almost a full semester into my masters of coaching education, I've learned a lot about the importance behind being a successful coach - and let me tell you, it's far more than x's and o's, wins and losses.

When I was working as the head strength coach at WLU in the OUA, there was an OUA strength coaches meeting at the end of each year. Last year, one of my colleagues brought up the fact that we seem to be overlooking the coach part of our title. At that point, I had already accepted to do my masters here at Ohio and I knew I was on the right track to improving the coaching aspect of my job. Being a good strength coach is so much more than getting athletes bigger, faster and stronger - it's about teaching them to appreciate the process, set goals and work towards something they want. It's about teaching them consistency is key to achievement and that hard work does in fact pay off.

I've always said that I'm not a book smart person - I'm really not and I'm more than okay to admit that because I make up for it in other ways. I study hard and am constantly trying to learn, but I don't see myself as someone who can recite a textbook. Instead, I am a people-person. I love creating meaningful relationships with my athletes and building trust with them. Sure, I'll throw out some fancy kinesiology terms to them or explain the purpose behind something when they ask, but in most cases, that's not what they want to hear. I'd like to think I'm really good at making complicated and complex things (exercises, movements, etc) easier to understand by explaining it in a more relatable way. For example, instead of telling an athlete to activate their glutes, I would tell them to pretend their squeezing a $100 bill between their butt cheeks - totally different explanation, but it is accomplishing the same task.

I am not discrediting the title of trainer in any way. I myself am still involved with personal training, but I just think the title of coach encompasses so much more. In my experience in the strength and conditioning world, some of the ways I feel I had the most impact on athletes had nothing to do with the weight room. It was the heartfelt conversations I had after workouts and the things they confided in me about. I was honoured that they trusted me enough to approach me about it. Helping athletes set goals, and watching them succeed on their playing field is such a satisfying part of being a coach. Yes, it's awesome to see your program working as testing numbers and weights increase, but we have such an amazing opportunity to do so much more than that.

I am so thankful to be in a program that is teaching me the values of being a good coach, what it takes to build character and not just super-athletes. I will finish off this post by stating my coaching philosophy, something I had to do for one of my classes ...

I believe in the development and growth of athletes through strength; physically, mentally and emotionally. I believe athletes should be trained to be functional both on and off their playing surface and to learn the importance of resiliency, determination, and dedication.