Appreciate the Opportunity/Understand the Assignment
You do have to know your role. It doesn’t matter if you are experienced or a newbie. Listen carefully to what the people in charge have to say. At MBSC, Mike runs the show. You are there to learn. Take in as much as you can. Know the ins and outs of the program. What’s the workout for tomorrow? How does it fit in with what you are doing today? Or next week?
If you are at a “working” internship like the one at MBSC and trying to get experience, your assignment is to help the program move along smoothly, in whatever capacity you are asked to contribute. Sometimes it’s making sure the floor is mopped, squat racks and equipment are clean, or sometimes it’s making sure that the clients get the protein shake that they paid for. Not the most glamorous jobs but they need to get done. As you progress, and they start to trust you, you’ll get more opportunities to coach and lead.
As an experienced coach, I had a different problem, I’ve been in the business for 20+ years so my challenge was to apply what I know within the structure of the program and try to do it seamlessly. I’m not there to change their program. I am there to make it run smoother within their framework, not differently.
Putting The Ego Away
This next part mainly goes out to the young coaches out there, (and this is going to sound harsh) no one cares what your opinion is. It’s a rough take, but it is what it is. Me, I’m trying to hide in the corner and listen. I want to hear Mike Boyle, Dan McGinley or Ben Connolly speak. I want to see the younger staff coach athletes and other clients. As the padawan (learner) I am there to listen, watch and absorb, not talk about how I run workouts back at home and show what I know. The more I talk the less the people who I want to learn from are talking. If I don’t agree with something, I keep my thoughts to myself. If I did disagree and wanted to know more, instead of arguing with the presenter I would ask them to expand on the idea that I am concerned about and try and see it from their side. If I’m still not satisfied, or I don’t understand I’ll go and do my own research on my own. In the end if you don’t like something just don’t use it when you are running your own workouts. Arguing with the person in charge doesn’t make you look smart. It just makes you an asshole.
I don’t try to run stuff because it’s not my responsibility, it’s above my pay scale as an intern. As a young coach, I would offer my opinion as often as I could as I tried to prove my worth to whoever I was talking to. Now as a veteran coach, I know my worth and I typically don’t express my opinion unless I’m being paid and it’s my role in the situation. Truth be told, it was nice to not be responsible (in a macro sense) and to be a minion again. It’s like riding in the passenger seat of a car when you are used to always being at the wheel. You get to look around and you notice stuff that you didn’t when you were in the driver’s seat because you are so focused on driving.
You don’t have to be perfect; you are going to make mistakes.
Mistakes are ok. Failure is ok. I’ve failed in classes, business ventures, relationships and much more. You are going to make mistakes and that is ok. In fact, it’s expected. This works for both coaches and clients. The expectation is for you to work to the best of your abilities and if you do make a mistake, make the correction, and move on.
So many coaches and athletes fear making mistakes. Typically, in their first session I tell my athletes, “If you push yourself hard enough, you are bound to make a mistake and as long as you don’t hurt yourself or anybody else that is totally fine.” Mistakes are an essential part of learning. New clients often want to start a drill over if they make a mistake. I don’t let them. Acknowledge the mistake and move on. This approach works better for sports and life in general. Typically, I try not to feel bad when I make a mistake the first time. An athlete doesn’t get to start over if something doesn’t go right after the competition has started. Being able to move on after the mistake and get the job at hand done is important. The best coaches can do this so well that you may not even notice that a mistake has been made. Then when appropriate, you should go back and see what you can learn from that mistake. This tends to be more important than the mistake itself. Making one mistake doesn’t make you look bad, not making the correction or adjustment and making the same mistake over and over will though. I try my very best not to make mistakes, but I understand that making errors are not the end of the world.
Coaches Need to Be Coachable
What happens when you make a mistake? When I make mistakes, admit the mistake to whoever caught it and to myself, then I do my best to make the correction and move on. The one that comes to mind was right in front of Mike and I am pretty sure I am personally responsible for an all-staff email to go out regarding the mistake. While a middle school group was benching, I helped an athlete bump out a couple more reps past their personal ability to do on their own. Mike quickly and without anger informed me that’s not the way, and that MBSC doesn’t allow forced reps. I acknowledged the mistake and thanked him for the correction, and we moved on. He never had to mention it to me again. I didn’t take the correction personally. I appreciate the feedback; I’d be more worried if he wasn’t correcting me.
It was a group of about 20 interns. Ranging from undergrads to me. People traveling as far as Spain and Italy to learn and contribute. MBSC’s biggest challenge for the summer is to prepare for the high volume of clients that come through the summer program. The interns help keep the machine moving smoothly. It’s much like an assembly line and was very busy even during the first week as the program ramped up. There were essentially 5 groups of customers including middle school, high school, college, and pro athletes. Also, there is a robust adult program that is woven into the schedule.