Small Tasks Big Returns
Today I want to talk about some really small tasks that can create really big returns. These are the type of things that require very little effort or time, but can have a huge impact on the bigger picture. These are also the kinds of things that can go overlooked easily.
Working with Athletes/Clients
Talk to them
A simple conversation can go a long way. Make it a point to talk to and learn more about your athletes/clients. This is the easiest thing you can and should be doing. In one-on-one setting this will happen naturally, but in a team or group setting this may require a little bit more effort. I always make it a point to have a small conversation with everyone who walks through the door at some point during the workout. The most important thing about this is to listen! Don't just go over and talk, let them talk. Listen to what they have to say and learn about them.
Attend a practice/game
This requires nothing more than being present. While this can go a long way towards building trust and buy-in form the athletes, it can also serve another purpose. Watching a practice or a game can provide you with some insight into the athlete. Sometimes the weight room doesn’t give you an accurate view of someone’s athletic potential. The chaos of practice and sport allows you an opportunity to asses their movement in a way that is hard to duplicate in a weight room setting.
Working with Coaches
Learn about the Sport
Perhaps this goes without saying, but you should learn about the sport you’re working with. In order to develop a decent training program, it’s important to create a needs analysis for the population. This includes determining the common injuries and physiological needs of the sport in question. This should probably be done on your own time.
Learning about the sport from the coach can be a very different experience from traditional book learning. Coaches understand the sport at a much deeper level, understand various schemes, and have ideas about what they need from their players. Having these conversations and asking the right questions can re-affirm that you’re bought into the process and serving their team. You can also learn about the way they want to play the game. Depending on their principles they might require a different training protocol than other teams in the same sport. A quick example here would be training a traditional big-man in basketball versus training the big-men who might play for a team who runs a lot of press. These two athletes will have very different needs despite playing the same position.
Attend a practice/game
As I mentioned before with athletes, this can go a long way towards building trust and buy-in. Just being there and showing support is often enough, but don’t be afraid to help out. I always let the coaches know how long I’ll be there and ask what I can do to help them out. Most of the time I don’t do anything other than observe, but occasionally the coaching staff will utilize me. Most of the time I’m asking questions (be sure to not interfere with practice), helping to stay organized (shagging balls), or doing some other tasks to help the staff maximize their time. You can also make it a point to be there and run warm-ups/cool-downs if possible.
For the department/company
Keep the place clean
One of my favorite articles of all time comes from Adam Feit. It is called “Broken Windows and First Impressions”. This article goes over the importance of first impressions as well as the criminological theory of the broken window theory. If someone sees a broken window, they are more likely to think the place is a dump, break more windows, and vandalize more. A single broken window, left unfixed, can lead to more vandalism, squatters, and an increase in criminal activity. The same goes for your facility, campus, or neighborhood.
The main take-away is everything matters. Rather than walking by a piece of trash, pick it up. That takes almost no effort, but has a huge pay-off. By keeping your area clean you’re actually increasing the likely hood that others, even complete strangers, will help you. The first impression you’re giving off is actually much better as well.
This concept is very similar to our last bullet point. The main idea here is, we want the facility to be as clean and organized as possible at all times. If you always make it a point to put things back, or have the athletes/clients put them back properly, this doesn’t really require much effort. However, this small task can have a major impact. You never know when someone is going to come through your door. Having a clean and organized weight room says a lot about you and how you run your program/department/business. Maybe that person walking through the door is a potential donor, or a high-level recruit, or a potential client. If they see things out of place or just plain dirty they might decide to take their money or talents elsewhere.
Always be ready! Instead of taking the time to get the facility ready, keep it that way!
These are some really simple things you can do as a coach/trainer that can increase your productivity and worth in your setting. While none of these tasks are ground breaking, they are extremely important. As a young professional it is very easy to get caught up in doing your job and you can end up focusing a lot on the x's and o's. That is extremely important but don't neglect the small things that can really help you, your athletes/clients, and your organization progress.