Why Specialization Will Be the Death of the Athletic Coach

From there very first time I was in school, everyone told me to learn as much as I could and then find something to specialize in, which never made any sense to me. It sounded like I was never going to make any money or be successful if I didn’t put my focus in one thing. This always sat a uncomfortably with me because it didn’t fit with the way I wanted t live and teach. I wanted to learn about everything. I’m sure I would gravitate to certain disciplines and styles but I wanted to be able to do, teach, and learn anything.

From the woods:

I was always the curious kid growing up. I had questions about everything and how it worked, why it that way, any activity that came up was fascinating to me.

My curiosity continued on through college where, even though I was in the radio production program, within one semester I was in the TV and music recording studio, out in the field setting up staging for live shows, I had my hands in everything and I loved just about every second of it.

When I began down the path of exercise and movement science, I began with what I saw other people doing and quickly progressed into modifying and changing things to see what would happen. I was amazed there were so many things that could be done with just a barbell and some weights. This transitioned me into the world of mobility, yoga, and gymnastics training, all of which have a strong foundation in experimentation.

From there I progressed into CrossFit and Olympic lifting where I feel I will probably be for a very long time. CrossFit combines any and every element of movement into a workout and, as skill permits, pushes the intensity up to the maximum level. There is beauty in that push because it begins to have deep ties with the meditative and body control aspects of yoga and gymnastics.

After that first time:

As graduation started creeping up, I started to think about what I wanted to do, what specialty I was going to settle into. I was having anxiety over the decision because everything was interesting. It made me nervous, depressed, and just uncomfotable .

Then I decided:

It seems like it came down to realizing that the people who were “mentouring” me in choosing my field were operating on what I’m not realizing is an outdated system. With the growth of fitness in the past 5 years, coaches can’t just teach one modality. It limits the population we can work with and where we can find income. We need to be able to teach someone how to squat, a breath later show someone how to walk on their hands, and a moment after that do some detective work on an athlete who is complaining about shoulder pain that didn’t used to be there.

There is still a strong need for specialists in the fitness industry. No one person is able to do everything at the highest level. But we, as coaches, need to be more fluid. Our clients all have different goals, different bodys, different histories, and different skill sets. It is our job to adapt and teach anyone who walks through our doors with a goal of self improvement, be it through exercise, injury prevention work, or anything else related to how their body functions.

If I can not do that as a coach, I feel like there is a large deficit that needs to be fixed. I signed up to do this because my goal is to help people to the greatest extent that I possibly can. Anything less then perfection in that regard for me is not allowed. There are limits to what we can do and the issues we can fix, but I believe that limit is far higher then most say it is.

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