Learning a new skill and mastering it is one of the most powerful human experiences we have. The challenges involved with solving new puzzles, fine-tuning new movements, and playing new games keeps our minds fresh and our bodies young. At some point in time, however, our own resources come up short – our natural abilities and talents can only take us so far before we need to employ the help of an expert. Having a coach in your corner who understands the skills you’re trying to possess and, more importantly, how to teach those skills, is paramount if you want to take any game to the next level. We all know this intuitively – we are where we are now in large part because of what we learned from teachers, classmates, mentors, and peers.
The importance of having a well-rounded team cannot be understated in modern sports, whether you are trying to play competitively or just stay healthy and active. Professional athletes have dedicated specialists to help them with their physical strength and conditioning, their nutrition, their muscle and tissue health, and their sleep, all above and beyond their normal sport coach! While it is certainly not necessary for your everyday golfer, tennis player, or runner to have this extensive of a team, there are certain boxes that everyone should check off.
Most people will reach out to a sport coach at some point if they want to get better. Having someone else take a look at your swing form and provide their expertise can obviously make huge leaps in how you’re playing. But, because of how our daily lives have been structured, we simply do not get the amount of physical activity necessary to sustain a healthy lifestyle. This can be extremely frustrating when it comes to being active – our bodies are simply not put in a position to be successful when it comes to the athletic movements we are asking it to do. Combine this with the fact that we are living and trying to stay active longer, and you see why physical therapists and strength coaches have become so popular.
Have you ever been frustrated that you just can’t quite get a movement down? Maybe it’s something you’re working on on your own, or maybe it’s something your coach has asked you to do. Oftentimes, there is a physical limitation keeping you from achieving those positions! This is, again, where a movement coach comes in handy. We can evaluate and observe how you move, your strength, endurance, and power, and come up with either a simple or a very robust plan to get you in the best shape possible to be successful and keep you injury and pain-free.
When looking for a coach, three things stand out to help you decide who to go to. First, you want to find someone that understands the unique demands your activity requires of you. You would not ask a golf professional to show you how to shoot a basketball! Similarly, a movement coach who does not understand the fundamentals of your sport will have a hard time coming up with the optimal program for you.
Second, finding someone with a network of professionals of various practices can help you form a team without having to go search for that team yourself. Having someone who communicates regularly with other professionals that you work with makes the whole process seamless and efficient, helping you get the most out of your time and effort.
Finally, a good coach will see YOU and your individual strengths, weaknesses, learning styles, and personality, and adjust their coaching style to you. Each person interacts with their environment in different ways, and understanding the individuality of every person makes sure you get the best results in the quickest time possible.
These are just some of the things a coach can do for you. I will leave you with a quote from one of the most legendary and respected individuals in coaching history, John Wooden – “A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.”
Bobby Prengle, PT, DPT, CSCS, TPIMP