Wednesday, August 6, 2014

S&C Internships: The 'Difficult' Coach

By: Josh Trammell

For part I of the S&C Internship series, click HERE.
For a fascinating look into the world  (and exploitation) of your fellow interns, check out this book: Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy

Let me introduce you to Coach Jay*. Coach Jay is an archetypal example of a coach who just couldn't care less about you. He's a dick and he knows it. 

"Stop bein' lazy man! You keep that up and you'll be an intern for the rest of your life." 

(said in front of the ENTIRE football team)

He went on to tell the intern to "go eat some donuts."

Obviously, this is a rather extreme example of a coach who really doesn't give a crap. But, while this is extreme, there are difficult coaches out there, and the goal of this article is to present some options on how to deal with those same coaches.

Option 1: Avoid the Coach in Question

...I would not recommend this option, for the simple reason that you'll be spending the next 2-3 months (or longer) working with this person. Also, you're an intern, which means you're not worth much - there's no reason to dig yourself an early grave.

Perfect example: after the coach in the intro did this to one of the interns, I actively avoided him...for about a week. Unfortunately, this coach used me as an example of what NOT to do when coaching a particular movement for another intern (even though I was teaching it the way another coach requested). I'm definitely human too, and this was a huge mistake that I quickly corrected.

Option 2: Ask for Advice from the Coach in Question

Once I saw how badly option 1 worked, I changed tactics. For every exercise I wasn't 100% clear on, I approached Coach Jay and asked him how he wanted it performed. Everything from depth for front squats to bench press, coaching cues, and so on.

This approach works much better than the first. For starters, by going to the coach for guidance you are establishing him as the expert and presenting yourself as being a humble intern. 

Many interns (myself included) go into the internship thinking they know everything about everything... and while you may know a lot, context is important and you may suck at applying what you know in a team sports context with lots of constraints. So, shutting your mouth and listening while establishing that coach as an authority is a very valuable skill.

Option 3: Does the Coach have an ego? Yes? Show off.

This one may sound funny, so I'll just use another personal example to illustrate the point.

Coach Jay was a former NFL pro for a few years before turning to coaching. He has a lot of confidence (rightly so) and thinks he can do pretty much anything he tries. Awesome.

One day, another intern and I were practicing some handstands, and he comes up and says "Hey man I can do that too. That's easy."

"Sure thing Coach Jay."

"What, you don't believe me man? Watch me."

He proceeds to kick up to a handstand...and falls over. He decides to try again...and gets the same result.

"Dang man! This is harder than I thought. Can you show me again?"

"You want me to show you the same thing, or do something else?"

"Show me something else man."

"Alright Coach."

I then proceed to do the following: Handstands Galore

Coach Jay tries it again...and fails. 

"Mad respect dawg." Bro hugs ensue. 

...And that's how I got Coach Jay's respect. Seriously. Immediately after that, he started talking to me, asking how I was doing, etc. 

Is this option appropriate for most coaches? Probably not. BUT, in certain situations this may work (but KNOW the coach's personality first).

Option 4: Always be seen Working

You'd think this would be obvious, but from stories I've heard from other internships and about past interns, apparently, it's not. One of the biggest keys to getting on a coach's good side is to be working AT ALL TIMES when you're out on the floor. 

Towels need to be picked up? Pick them up.

Weights on the floor? Pick them up.

Working out? Don't rest for 10 minutes between your sets while that coach is around (even if you are a powerlifter).

Does an athlete need a weight gain shake? Make him a weight gain shake.

The point: ALWAYS be moving around, doing something. Don't wait to be told to do something, show some initiative. This, more than anything else, will get you noticed and respected.

Is this stuff simple? Yes. Should I really have to write about it? No. Some of you will run into difficult coaches, and my hope is that you remember these lessons (and my blunders) and find a way to make it work to your advantage. 

*Fictitious name for a real coach.

Have some questions? Want to learn more about S&C internships and what they're all about? Shoot me an email at and I'll help you out as much as I can.

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