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Coaching and Leadership


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“Leadership is the art of getting someone to do something you want done, because he wants to do it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

As the MFCEO of Derby City CrossFit, Darkside Strength, Darkside Performance Enhancement Center (D-PEC), and Darkside Worldwide wide wide…, I have the opportunity to have several really great coaches working for me. I also get the opportunity to work with several other coaches from the area, as well as members/athletes who have the desire to become coaches. A question I get from many of them is,  “What is the most important things that I need to learn are in order to be a good coach?”

I can say with great confidence that the one quality you must develop is Leadership. A great coach is always a great leader. Look at the great sports coaches throughout history: Rick Pitino, Vince Lombardi, Charlie Strong, and Mike Ditka, to name a few, have all proven themselves great leaders. Just listen to interviews from their former players. Years later their loyalties still exist because of the impact that they can make on their athletes lives. That loyalty is what gets your athletes/clients to buy into your system, to do everything that you tell them to. I often say that I want to have control of everything that my athletes are doing. Before Brent Weedman’s last fight I was obsessive about exactly how much/what/when he was doing. That control, like most systems of control, is just an illusion. Sure, Brent was doing everything that he was told, but that was built with gaining his trust and getting him to believe in what he was doing.

I don’t want to bullshit you, my life kicks a ton of ass these days. I have always credited every single bit of it to my time in the Marine Corps. I feel that the leadership ability I gained there is what gives me the qualities needed to be a successful coach. Nothing will develop your leadership better than leading your squad and a squad of jank-ass soldiers from the Iraqi Army on a patrol. Everything usually goes wrong, you learn to think on your feet and get the greatest possible performance out of everyone you have, regardless of their skill/competence level.

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The Marine Corps is know the world over for it’s ability to make sweet acronyms that boots (junior Marines) forget and you can haze them for. This is one such acronym (the 14 Leadership Traits) that I find to be one of the most valuable things that I think the aspiring coach can know.

JJ DID TIE BUCKLE

 Justice –  Just be fair and consistent.

Judgement– Your ability to make decisions

Dependability– you can be relied upon to perform your duties properly. It means that you can be trusted to complete a job

Initiative– meeting new and unexpected situations with prompt action

Decisiveness– you are able to make good decisions without delay

Tact– Tact means that you can deal with people in a manner that will maintain good relations and avoid problems. It means that you are polite, calm, and firm.

Integrity– you are honest and truthful in what you say or do. You put honesty, sense of duty, and sound moral principles above all else.

Enthusiasm– a sincere interest and exuberance in the performance of your duties

Bearing– the way you conduct and carry yourself

Unselfishness– Be considerate of others. Give credit to those who deserve it.

Courage–  allows you to remain calm while recognizing fear. Moral courage means having the inner strength to stand up for what is right and to accept blame when something is your fault. Physical courage means that you can continue to function effectively when there is physical danger present.

Knowledge– the understanding of a science or art. Knowledge means that you have acquired information and that you understand people. Your knowledge should be broad, and in addition to knowing your job, you should know your athletes/clients jobs

Loyalty– this marks your devotion to your athletes and is the single most important quality in a human

Endurance– the mental and physical stamina that is measured by your ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress, and hardship

 

Some of those things apply more than others to the world of coaching, but let’s just focus on the important shit that is going to make you a great coach. Because, well, let’s face it, tact is not a very becoming quality of a young, budding MFCEO. I usually outsource that shit to Slater, he is great at being nice and pretending to like people. Sometimes I accidentally allow my integrity spill over into my tact and screw it up a little.

Loyalty- the single most important quality any human can ever posses. The beauty of loyalty is that all other qualities seem to start to line up after you have it nailed down. You always have to have your athletes best interest at heart, regardless of what that means. If you do, it will drive you to learn more, and become better daily.

Enthusiasm- I am not talking about that fake ass enthusiasm where you pretend to love waking up at 430am in the morning and coaching 18 classes in a day. I mean that you need to have a genuine love of what you do. People dedicate a lot of time to their training and it becomes a big part of their life. Your general excitement for what you do and what the future holds is a big piece of what keeps them coming in the door everyday.

Knowledge- this has two aspects. One is the knowledge of your craft. Your ability to answer questions intelligently. This is obviously very important. Your knowledge is what is going to develop the trust of your athletes/clients that will get them to buy into your program. You have to demonstrate knowledge to build their confidence in what they are doing. The other, and perhaps overlooked, aspect of your knowledge is your knowledge of people. Most leaders don’t pick and choose who they lead. You get dealt and hand and have to find a way to squeeze the best out of it. The great leaders all do that. Michael Jordan was able to make the 7th whitest guy in the history of earth relevant in the game of basketball (Steve Kerr). I rest my case. Great leaders understand people’s personalities and have to recognize differences in their athletes and clients, then deal with them accordingly.

Courage. Honestly, I’d like to change the word “courage” to “confidence”. Your confidence will inspire those you lead. Your confidence gives them confidence and makes everyone perform above their ability level. I know that I have coaches who have all the skills, and just lack the confidence in those skills to take shit to the next level. I can promise you that you won’t convince anyone that you are the best until you convince yourself. After that, it is just a matter of time.

Anyone can learn the X’s and O’s. Squat technique is simple, and their are hundreds of effective programs on the internet. These are the qualities that set the great coaches apart from the rest. Great coaches don’t just get some gains in performance, they affect positive change in peoples lives.

 

 

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Ryan Brown is the head physical preparation coach and owner of Derby City CrossFit / DarkSide Strength in Louisville,Ky. Ryan’s focus is on correcting and perfecting movement/motor patterns to get the most out of his athletes. He has competed in CrossFit, Powerlifting, strongman, and currently Olympic lifting. His clients include; elite level power lifters, national level Olympic lifters, pro MMA fighters, college football players, HS athletes, CrossFitters, old broke people, and pretty much anyone else who wants to do something better.
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