Kaizen: a Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement of working practices, personal efficiency, etc.
Continuous education in the coaching field is a must. The obvious reason why is because nothing ever stays the same; we are always evolving and adapting, making the need for constant upkeep of our knowledge paramount. With a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips, finding the information we are looking for is pretty easy. Finding good information, though, can sometimes be a challenge. There are some resources that are a must for both CrossFit and Strength and Conditioning Coaches. Here is a list of the ones I have found to be the most useful, and how you should read it.
- Practical Application: Clearly practical application is not a book per se, but this may be one of the MOST important aspects to becoming a great coach. With that said, having time “in the trenches” will help you identify with you clients’ struggles, explain how a particular workout should feel, and give them advice to ensure their health and success. This is without a doubt a huge aspect of becoming a “great coach”, as any great coach has been through just about every scenario when it comes to their own struggle of making progress and overcoming adversity. Similarly, practical application will also better prepare you with training individual clients to understand bioindividuality more effectively, and prescribing the correct programming to match your clients psychological profile. How long is enough? There is no answer to this one, as the learning never stops and we will never have all the answers. We are always receiving new information that allows to continuously evolve. At the end of the day, practicing what you preach is a must.
- Supertraining: This book is a staple for coaches, but I would not recommend trying to read it all the way through. Go through the table of contents, which is quite lengthy, and highlight 10 chapters that you feel to be most beneficial and useful for you. Read those in any order you choose. After you’ve completed those 10, I’d recommend moving onto the next book and coming back to “Supertraining” later, so as to not burn-out on the same text. Overall, this book has it all from bodybuilding, aerobic/anaerobic training, various forms of shock training, and even some history on where weight-lifting actually came from.
- Science and Practice of Strength Training: This is a book that you can read from beginning to end, as the pages are much shorter and easier to follow than “Supertraining”. This book has a ton of great practical information that helps explain the significance of joint angle, as well as many other noteworthy strength and conditioning principles. I would recommend reading a chapter a week and going through the material slower than you would if you were just reading a regular book.
- The CrossFit Journal: There is a great deal of information in the CF Journal and the best part about it is that there is information for every aspect of training, so wherever you feel the weakest as a coach is a good place to start for your searches. A CrossFit coach is expected to be a “jack of all trades”, having expertise in gymnastics, running, weightlifting, powerlifting, rowing, etc.. Following the Journal regularly will allow you to read articles and watch videos to further your coaching ability. It’s highly recommended that you try practicing what you learn though before using on your own athletes. The delivery will be much smoother and you’ll have a much better grasp from a pratical stand-point when coaching.
- Special Strength Development For All Sports: Some find Louie Simmons hard to follow, but I’d say this book is immensely easier to follow than “Supertraining” is, and the best part is that many of Louie’s principles have been derived from “Supertraining”. This book applies to ALL athletes, not just powerlifting. Compared to Louie’s other books, this book show a much more broad application of these methods. I would focus on reading the first eight chapters, as the remaining chapters go a bit outside the methods and include excerpts from other authors.
- EliteFTS.com: I you haven’t read any articles from Dave Tate’s site yet, start right away. There are over one million articles for free! This means you can basically read about anything training related here from some of the best coaches in the world.
- NSCA.com: Obviously the NSCA and CrossFit have their issues, but all that aside you’ll find some great content here (but you do have to pay a subscription). If you need to fullfil CEUs for other certs, the NSCA has plenty options.
- T-Nation.com: I can’t not include T-Nation, as this was one of the first sites I started reading from as a young coach! I would highly encourage you to check out the archives and read everything from Dave Tate, Charles Poliquin, Dan John, Christian Thibadeau, Eric Creesey, Jim Wendler, and Chad Waterbury. From time to time I go through and read articles I read over 10 years ago again, many times to learn something I didn’t pick up the first time I read it.
In short, continuous education takes consistent effort. Start by devoting a small amount of your time each day (based off of what you’re comfortable with) and stick to it just like you would your training plan!