Over the course of my career, and particularly in the early stages, I have been fortunate to have some very knowledgeable and experienced mentors. All of them have gone above and beyond to help educate me in the field of human performance.
With this in mind I have always had the idea that I too should give back and have made it a priority to take on interns and young strength & conditioning coaches.
Besides the sets, reps, coaching cues, program design, exercise technique, etc. young coaches should understand:
1) You don’t have an opinion until you have 10 years (10,000 hours) experience
(And I wish someone had told me to keep my opinions to myself in my early days.)
We are all aware of Anders Ericson’s research that has been quoted in books such as Outliers, Bounce and The Talent Code. We’re also all aware of the exceptions to this rule – athletes or experts who have succeeded despite not yet reaching this target. Now, despite your opinion regarding the robustness of Ericson’s research, I like the thought process of aiming for 10 years before claiming to be an expert.
I like it for the young athletes I work with – it allows them to enjoy the journey.
I like for parents of talented children – it gives them perspective.
I like it for young S&C coaches – it keeps their minds open.
According to the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition, and I am paraphrasing here, the novice progresses from seeing the situation in either black or white, right or wrong; to the expert who sees all shades of grey, and different situations requiring different methods.
So what might seem ‘white’ and ‘wrong’ when we’re a young coach might actually be ‘grey’ and ‘correct’ as we gain experience.
The point is, the young coach should refrain from judging programs and paradigms, and focus on trying to understand the philosophies behind them.
Hence, no opinion until you have clocked up your 10 years.