Barbell Life Skills: Be Wary of The “Nice Guy” Coach

Most humans are inherently the same, it’s just in our nature. We tend to seek approval from those around us and naturally, it always feels nice when someone is encouraging rather than critical when working together. This can be seen everywhere, from sports teams to our jobs. It’s always easier to get along with the boss or coach that only has nice things to say to us. However, this is not the best way to develop into the best version of ourselves that we can be.

As someone new to the gym, a “good job” from our coach may be the best thing that that we’ve heard all day! This is why places such as Planet Fitness or Gold’s Gym have the huge following they do. Many of their coaches are simply “pay-roll” coaches who just pat your butt all the way through you training session. The issue here is that there’s no investment in the development of the athlete. Although it may be nice to hear, how much does a “good job” actually help you to become a better athlete?

As an athlete, you should be looking for the coach that may be a little more intimidating, a coach that is not afraid to speak their mind. A good coach will strive to find flaws and correct them. This creates a training session that can be full of “fix this” or “add more weight to that”, and it may not sound as warm and fuzzy as “good job” or “keep up the great work”, but constructive feedback from your coach is what brings body-awareness to the athlete. Without it, how will you know what you need to work on? How do you learn what needs to be improved?

This brings us back to the time-honored question: why? Why are we training? Why are we in the gym in the first place? A meaningful why will bring to light what we really need as humans and developing athletes. If we have a good why, we should inherently seek out that coach who drives us, the one who may make us work for weeks before we hear the elusive “good job”. This is because it requires both positive and negative feedback to foster improvement.

This same principle can be applied to the workplace. Although many of us may not love our jobs, being the best at it yields the benefits that we do desire, things like raises, bonuses, or a promotion. A constant flow of “good job” is lazy on the boss or coaches end; it gives us nothing to improve upon, and it’s likely to keep us in a stagnant position that we’ll soon grow bored of.

In short, whether on the field, court, gym, or jobsite, it is always in our best interest to surround ourselves with the people and mentors that will drive us to be the best we can.