” A Coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, and has you see things you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you can be.” – Tom Landry
Never Let Your Athlete Train Without A Coach
First off, let me clarify that statement a bit. I’m not saying athletes should not practice without a coach. Some of the best time spent learning is when you are learning to do things on your own. This is especially true the younger the athlete is; they need to spend time trying to do/learn things on their own. What I am talking about is training, specifically speed, strength, athletic or power training; although higher level practice should probably be grouped in this, but since we do not teach sport specific technique I’m going to leave that out.
Well of course, as a youth athlete development business we are going to say that. I’m sure that is what you are telling yourself right now, and you are right. It does make business sense for us to tell everyone to use Red Zone Training, but that is not what I am saying. I am saying to not let your athletes train without a coach, doesn’t have to be with us – although we would prefer that. ;). As long as the coach is qualified to train your athlete then that works.
Quick side note:
Qualified to train your athlete is pretty important. Just because someone holds a certification does not make them qualified to train you or your athlete, no more than having a driver’s license qualifies you to teach someone to drive. A qualified coach is one who is knowledgeable in training athletes for sports. They spend their time studying how to train athletes. They spend their time learning how to communicate with a youth athlete. Most importantly they spend their time actually training youth athletes, not as a side job or additional revenue stream. When your livelihood depends on training youth athletes, you make darn sure you know what you are doing. So anyone who fits that description is definitely someone to check out. End side note.
Why is it so imperative that your athlete train with a coach? The same reason you don’t leave your kids to get their education on their own, they won’t learn optimally or at all. Middle and high school athletes still are not experts on their body, how it moves, what it is doing, or what they are doing for that matter. In other words they don’t know, what they don’t know.
What They Should Do and What They Actually Do Are Often Miles Apart.
You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve said, “Now bend your right leg.” Only to follow it up with, “Ok, now straighten that leg out and bend your other right leg.” Or telling any athlete to spread their feet just a little farther apart only to have them spread their feet like 24″ apart?!?!
So if athletes have a hard time making minor adjustments when a coach is telling them what to do, how well are they going to do that with no one telling them what to do. Even more important how will they even know what to adjust in the first place? How many times have you as a parent had to tell your kids to clean their room, only to find out what they think is clean and what everyone else in the world thinks is clean is completely different.
Their Focus Needs More Focus
Let’s face it, middle school and high school students are not known for their extreme focus on things they have to do, because they are still kids. There are way too many other things to be doing than to do things they have to do. We are always keeping athletes on task. Sometimes they focus well, other times it’s like herding cats with feathers, while birds covered in catnip are flying circles around them.
They Are Not Accountable to Anyone
Whenever an athlete works out on their own there is no one to hold them accountable, not only for completing their workouts, but their level of effort or the strictness of their form, and their progression through the workouts is compromised. Youth athletes need a coach to hold them accountable for their effort level, their level of focus, and to help push them when needed. Without this accountability, most athletes who work out on their own often just go through the motions and chit chat with friends the whole time, not much else gets done.
Their workouts are horrible.
We have had several athletes over the years who get to that point where they have the desire to go workout with their friends. We completely understand where they are coming from and don’t talk down to them about it. What we try and do is to remind them to keep doing things that they have been doing here and to keep progressing. Sometimes these athletes end up coming back and sometimes they don’t; but either way, more times than not their workouts routines became bicep curls and bench presses and not much progress was made in anything.
They Get Hurt
When focus is absent, time is spent on redundant or extreme progressions of exercises, inevitably injuries will occur. Coaches are supposed to be that voice of reason that says, the risk is not worth the reward. Risking injury is not proper training.
Obviously a lot goes into the decision of letting an athlete workout on their own, with money usually being the major factor. We do completely understand that it can be expensive to have a qualified coach train your athlete, just as it is expensive to have a qualified pitching coach, or hitting coach; however you do get what you pay for. There is much more to an athletic training session than moving a weight and it’s often the little things that set up your athlete for success or set them down the path towards injury. We don’t say this to scare anyone, we just want you to be informed so that you can make whatever decision you feel is best for you, your athlete, and/or your family and also have a plan of action to make sure the issues that we see with athletes training on their own don’t happen to your athlete.