Anthony Donskov is the founder of DSC where he serves as the Director of Sport Performance. Donskov holds a Masters Degree in Exercise Science & is the author of Physical Preparation for Ice Hockey.
Evolution of an Ego: The Importance of Attitude
There is an evolutionary process in the strength and conditioning field that when nourished provides growth, insight and direction. This “growth” not only comes in the physical form (bodybuilder phase, power lifting phase, functional training phase), but also from our mental and personality traits. Unfortunately, this is an area where most coaches fail. I’m not suggesting that we meet with Dr. Phil to iron out our issues, but what I am suggesting is that many of our attitudes need adjustment (including my own at times).
I had the privilege of attending the 2011 Perform Better Summit in Chicago this past June where I heard Mark Verstegen speak. I will never forget him saying that “we have too many Type A Coaches in this industry.” Maybe the reason it surprised me so much was that I was one of them! It got me thinking that many times we as coaches focus on physical growth, program design, and energy system development without focusing on the strongest weapon we have, our attitudes! Below are 4 stages of the mental evolution of the rise and fall of a Type A Coach.
Know It All:
When I first started my career in strength and conditioning I knew everything! I was the first and foremost industry leader training hockey players’. Why, because I played the game at high level. Never mind the fact that I was green and my only experience was training in my University weight room. I knew everything! The first phase of my mental evolution started right here! Coach John Wooden once said: “Don’t confuse professional experience with your ability to teach it.”
Knowledge vs. Aesthetics:
This started out the second phase of my mental development. If you didn’t play the game, you had to look the part. Wow, was I ever wrong! Getting information from former players or bodybuilders was due to aesthetics, not knowledge. Big arms, big legs and hollow heads don’t make for good coaches!
Wrong Info. Right Info.
Seek and You Shall Find:
I made a lot of mistakes leading up to the third stage of my mental development. What I should have done was realize how little I knew and looked for help back in stage one, but my attitude would not allow for this. In order to jump to stage 3 simply ask: Who is doing what I want to do and is successful at doing it? Take your attitude and readjust it. This is how we grow and develop as coaches and as people. “There’s a quicker was to gain the information experience provides, namely, ask somebody who already has it.” (John Wooden)
Ideology vs. Practicality/Best Practices:
We all have our unique philosophies, ideologies and attitudes as coaches. It makes up our Coaching DNA. Remember however that failure to adapt and grow is a disservice to our athletes and ourselves. One of the most important lessons that I have learned is the ability to adapt. This is an art that needs to be tempered with the right mental development. Two ears, one mouth! Leave your egos at the door and make it a win win situation for fellow coaches and athletes.
Strength and Conditioning is a passion shared by fellow coaches in the industry. We have a powerful purpose. We control exercise prescription, exercise design, safety, testing protocol, and nutritional advice. Let’s not forget the most powerful element we control on a daily basis, our attitudes. Nobody wants to train with a know it all who cannot adapt. No one wants to train with someone who doesn’t listen. No one wants to train with someone who doesn’t care. The beauty about all of this is that WE control our attitudes!