When I got started in strength and conditioning (back in the late 80's), what now seems like a life-time ago, I was always amazed how the "gun" coaches of the day (Charlie Francis, Kelvin Giles, Charles Poliquin v1.0...when he coached NHL athletes primarily) were so clear on what needed to be done with each athlete. Maybe more than that, I was always perplexed by how they were able to synthesize all the available information into singular, cohesive thought process. Mind you, at that time the only real sources of information were from a handful of journals that you either read in the library or photocopied for later.
These days with the prolific explosion of social media into our lives, I genuinely feel for the young coaches of 2017 as they are constantly bombarded with information that is diverse both in it's quality and source. No matter the medium (Facebook, Twitter etc) the volume of information is simply staggering.
With this plethora of information at our finger tips, the ability to synthesize information into a usable format is paramount to success as a coach. The number one question I get repeatedly asked is "How do I put it all together?".
Here is the advice I give every time...Develop your own Training Philosophy!
Think of a Training Philosophy like the operating system for your computer (Microsoft Windows, macOS or Linux). It runs all the basic functions and keeps things working efficiently.
An app or program may be downloaded to your computer to serve a specific function, and deleted or retained for future use as necessary e.g. Excel, Matlab, R etc. Consider training concepts e.g. Interval Training, MAS, Cluster Training, Velocity based strength training etc etc... simply as "programs" that you might run within your operating system (Training Philosophy).
As most people would know, there is solid, reliable software from reputable companies and there is also shoddy, rubbish software that causes you nothing but grief. There are programs that are nothing more than a blatant rip-off of classic, established software, and for those of you really dialed-in, there is the possibility to write your own code which is designed to do exactly what you want.
As you gain more experience with apps / programs you decide on the ones you want to keep, you update them, and you inevitably become very skilled in their operation and biased toward their abilities (kinda becomes a bit of a ingrained part of you...Ford vs. Holden, Mac vs. PC, Elvis vs. Beatles...you get my drift).
In a nutshell your Training Philosophy becomes the center of your universe. It is the filter through which every decision you make is passed. It is WHAT YOU BELIEVE TO BE TRUE!
In my mind's eye, I always visualize this concept in terms of Arnold Schwarzenegger's view in TERMINATOR. He sees something, evaluates it's properties, matches it against what he wants, needs or understands, then makes a decision to use it, leave it...or in Arnold's case blow it the f$%k up!
Just like in TERMINATOR, creating a more advanced operating system (Training Philosophy) allows you greater capacity to make decisions and a broader field of view through which to filter incoming information (programs, methods etc).
Building a Training Philosophy is a life long journey, and not one I believe that is ever complete. Just like an operating system needs upgrades, so does your Training Philosophy...and to be clear here, an upgrade does not constitute a complete rebuild. Adding, subtracting, tweaking, contextualizing, optimizing, individualizing are all methods of upgrading your Training Philosophy. Never throw the baby out with the bathwater!
Here's a practical guide to building your own Training Philosophy...
In his book "BLINK" Malcom Gladwell describes the critical component of rapid cognition known as "Thin Slicing". Thin Slicing refers to the ability of our unconscious mind (preferred term of psychology professionals to subconscious) to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very thin (rapid or incomplete) slices of information. These "thin slices" of information are compared back to what we know and have experienced, often creating biochemical responses (nausea, tingling, sense of foreboding etc) which may be interpreted as intuition. Despite the scientific community not being able to measure it in absolute terms, the unconscious mind is generally considered to have a capacity for data processing that far exceeds that of the conscious mind by an unfathomable margin (one estimate places the unconscious mind at 500000x the processing power of the conscious mind).
Therefore the greater the depth of data that both the unconscious and conscious mind is comparing to (experience and models = Training Philosophy) the greater chance you have of solving complex problems quickly and accurately.
Invest in documenting your own Training Philosophy today!
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