Reflections: The Performance Training Journey

As we head into the final quarter of 2018, it is a great time to sit down, reflect, and reset your life compass. Time doesn’t seem to be slowing down, so unless we make a solid effort to set aside time to reflect, it won't happen on its own. As a performance coach or a striving athlete, reflection is absolutely important as the field of performance is constantly evolving. Each year coaches start with a new skin and over the course of the year that skin becomes worn, stretched, and challenged by the journey. 

At the end of each year, journeymen and women shed this skin and start fresh with acquired skills, sharpened training philosophies, and eyes pointed towards the horizon. As you continue on your journey, whether a coach or an athlete, I challenge you to always strive for growth but grow with caution. 

It’s funny, as I look back on training programs from this year, my training gets more and more simple. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing around with new variations and trying different modalities. Simplicity just becomes more and more of a focus. 

Practice simplicity with your training. 

Coaches and athletes want what is going to make them better in the least amount of time. Coaches and athletes also get trapped chasing flash over foundation. I also struggle with that trap from time to time. As a coach, I want the best for the athletes I work with. Wanting the best for someone is a difficult drive to balance. 

Don’t let the drive of wanting the best cloud your reasoning for performance.

Let this drive help you progress through performance speed bumps but do not let it negatively impact the effectiveness of your programming. 

Surround yourself with individuals that challenge you to be a better person AND coach/athlete, not coach/athlete AND person. 

This has been the most interesting piece of advice for me to follow this year. Earlier in the year, I realized what I valued was not lining up with the values of influences I held close to me. I realized I had become quite stagnant in personal growth, relationship growth, and had hit the ceiling on development in my current roles. When the goal isn’t a better person first, growth as a coach/athlete will only continue for so long. 


GAIN 2018

This was my best professional development experience of the past few years. I attended GAIN 2018 and got to listen to gold medal coaches from multiple sports.

Coaching and athletic growth are limited by the person not the limiter of the person. 

Making this realization resulted in many sleepless nights and what seemed like monumental changes. That being said, I have found what lies on the other side of tough decisions is way better than we ever imagine. I credit my trip to GAIN 2018 with opening my eyes to this need for a reset. Surrounded by coaches and practitioners from all over the world for a week was just what the doctor ordered.

Focus on nutritional improvement goals, not a nutritional overhaul. 

The biggest thing I have taken away from 2018 is that nutrition is real and if you’re not focusing on it, you’re already behind. With that in mind, I think we overcomplicate this piece of performance. 

As a coach, it is easy to over-inform athletes. As an athlete, it is easy to over-inform ourselves. What I have found to be most effective is to focus on nutritional improvement goals. This involves taking ONE aspect of nutrition and going through a four-week progression. 

For example, let’s look at hydration. 

  • Week #1: Drink three cups of water at the start of each day. Literally do it first!

  • Week #2: Men aim for 16 cups a day and women aim for 11 cups a day. 

  • Week #3: Use a hydration formula to calculate your specific needs.

  • Week #4: Limit calories from liquids outside of training (ex. soda). 

This approach is much simpler and keeps the engagement. The task shifts slightly each week and builds upon the previous week. Instead of completely overhauling hydration practices right off of the bat, this is a gradual, sustainable progression. 

Don’t fear strength and manage compartmentalization.

One thing that I still wrestle with is how fearful people are of getting stronger. Whether it is because of the thought of injury or mounds of muscle, people still fear strength. One thing I urge you to think about is that strength doesn’t have to be compartmentalized to barbells and a fancy training hall. Yes, these are two tools in the toolkit but the toolkit has infinite tools. 

Getting stronger doesn’t have to be this monster we stash in the closet and shy away from. Embrace strength and realize that strength is a valuable tool for performance and life. 

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You don’t need barbells, dumbbells, or a fancy gym to capture the benefits of getting stronger. Your bodyweight is a great starting point and can be manipulated in many ways to provide a stimulating challenge like none other. 

Embrace strength. Don’t fear it! 

Do not just talk about your goals. Write your goals down! 

My final piece from 2018 is that a goal is not a goal unless it is written down. This year, I found myself gravitating back towards daily lists of things to accomplish. I went through some mental highs and lows over the past year, and daily lists helped me stay the course when emotion could’ve derailed my overall progress. These daily lists funneled into my overall goals for the year. 

This applies to daily life and performance training progressions. Start with the finish line and work backward to the building blocks of a goal. Think about what you’re willing to do to accomplish a goal. Even more important, think about what you’re not willing to do to accomplish that goal. 

As we head towards 2019, I challenge you to take some of these tips and apply them to the year ahead. 

What is my big goal for 2019? 

My goal for 2019 is to reset my compass back to the roots of why I got into this field. I am filled with immense joy when I can play a small part in helping others accomplish things they didn’t think possible. Whether that is a new personal best in the pool, completing an unassisted pull-up, or playing with grandkids without fatiguing too fast, these things get me out of bed in the morning and have my heart on fire for the day ahead. While business and profits are critical, serving people is the most critical piece of being a performance coach. 

Thank you for journeying through 2018 with me. I am looking forward to all of your success in 2019!