Stay in your lane!

I heard someone mention the title above in a podcast I listened to last week (can’t remember which one). I also automatically knew what image I was going to use for the post… I still can’t quite work out what VCB was thinking… Anyway, it was an analogy which I fully believe in and one which I’ve seen regularly in the coaching industry and one which I try to avoid. Just ‘Stay in your lane!’… Do the job which you are good at, have expertise in, have passion for, or being paid to do; don’t tell other people how to do their job or venture into an area of expertise where you really have no business being.

My background is in Physical Education and then Strength & Conditioning. These are my two lanes. I feel like I can provide a pretty good ‘service’ in both of those industries. Only a month ago, I completed my online tax return and waited for the money to be deposited into my account. This doesn’t make me a Tax accountant. I have many mates in the finance industry but I’d be stupid to think I could give them financial advice due to my experience doing my annual return. They wouldn’t listen to me because it’s not my lane. Similarly, I just re-planted some small trees in pots in my backyard yet I know stuff all about plants, horticulture or soil. But I can still do it but it’s not my lane either. This might be an average analogy but I am sure you get the idea. However, when it comes to Strength & Conditioning there are a lot of online experts or people with minimal background or understanding in the profession, who seem to display and push the ‘it is not that hard’ approach. Write program… Lift weight…Lift more… It really is a fascinating dynamic; and I find it seems to happen in the physical performance/preparation industry A LOT (social media partly to thank here).

I know my strengths in the S&C profession. They are teaching Speed, Programming and ‘the art of coaching’ (this is a great term I’ve borrowed from the guys at EXOS; and it’s not to say that I’m an expert, but I feel my background in education and pedagogy has given me a great sense of how to ‘teach people’ to do things. After doing it for 10 years; you would hope you have an understanding of how to do it. There are ways which are more effective than others. These are things which I can confidently give people advice on; knowing that it is backed with experiential or evidence based research. I rarely stray too far from my pillars of knowledge or my lane when giving advice to the athletes I coach or others who ask. I have an ever expanding network of colleagues, some who have contributed some great information to this blog, who I can reach out to when I don’t know the answer. I am quite happy to admit when it’s over my head and I’ll refer it on or reach out to one of these people. As I did with the great Dan Pfaff via Twitter just last week.

From all the S&C professionals I have come to known; I would suggest they are some of the most well researched people in the performance industry. They have their niche areas, but most if not all have a strong understanding of many other key areas e.g. Manual Therapy, Nutrition, Sports Medicine, Analytics, Business Management, Technology. Generally, this is due to high level teams or athletes trying to cover several bases with the same person; whether right or wrong, it seems to be the way. But I think as the S&C coach, you need to be able to talk the talk (and walk the walk) with the athletes across a range of pertinent topics, but it also adds to the dialogue between other performance staff members. Some S&C guys I know of take this too far and start to preach and prescribe outside of their lane. If this was at the professional level, I imagine this would be the same as surfing in shark infested waters… it would only be a matter of time. Plus, it is just stupid. And vice versa when for example, Physios begin pretending they know more about physical preparation than the fitness staff. Also dumb.

On the other side of the equation; it drives me crazy when people start giving or voicing Strength & Conditioning advice (or get ‘given’ jobs) which is outside of their lane. Generally, it is good natured advice but refer back to the above where I did my tax and re-planted some trees. The people in the S&C industry work bloody hard to get to where they are and are passionate about the profession. It is a complete joke when past players or the un-qualified are given industry jobs which should be available for the ones who have skin in the game. I can’t imagine being given an accountancy job at Deloitte’s because I did an online tax return. These people are in the wrong lane. Playing the game is a different lane all together.

I think I’ve strayed into a few different lanes throughout this post 🙂

Anyway…Work hard…Do the job you are in right now bloody well… Stay in your lane!!

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