Thursday, July 31, 2008


  • Mel will be featured on the NBC Today Show, tomorrow morning (Friday, Aug 1). And there should be a clip or two of video from Iron Maven included in the segment.
  • Mel called from Beijing Monday. She is training well, hitting 162.5 kg PR back squat yesterday and an easy 110 kg CJ the day before. You can read her blog here.
  • Carissa Gump, 63 kg Olympian, has her blog here!
  • Great post by Vern Gambetta on the difference between coaching and training. Everybody wants to get certified so they can "train" people. It all seems so cool and glamorous to be a trainer, right? ROTFLMAO. But what they are really learning to do is dole out canned workouts and exercise combinations. Is there really any substance there? Do they know what they are doing and why? Is a particular exercise appropriate for a particular person? Remember, people will get better at anything if they repeat it enough; particularly if they are starting from an untrained status and the measuring stick is only as blunt as volume of activity for time. General fitness and work capacity are a good start. But we can do better and give them so much more.
Editorial: On that note, I think use of the term coach, as a proper noun, should be reserved for someone who actually leads a team or an individual in a seasonal or year-round, competitive endeavor within an organization, be it a club, school or whatever. And this usually when leading the college-age level teams or individuals and below. Young people should refer to an adult coach as "Coach" just as they would use the term Mr. or Mrs. It is a sign of deference and respect in the athletic setting. Kids at DeSmet call me Mrs. Fober or Coach Fober because I have actually acted in a coaching capacity and I am an adult.

Adult athletes who actually compete in a recognized sport will typically refer to their coach by his or her first name. The relationship here is more of a partnership and collaboration and there is no need to establish formal boundaries of respect or delineate who is in charge. This is unless there is a need to establish and maintain control, and there is a very formal team coaching situation. For example, I can see the USA Basketball men calling Coach K, Coach K. I would sure as hell have no trouble calling Pat Summitt "Coach." But these people are true coaching professionals and their job is to lead a group of collegiate and professional athletes in a designated competition.

Former athletes may refer to a respected and long-time sport coach as "Coach" after they have graduated, most often as a sign of affection and respect; but most of the time, that person will encourage former athletes and other adults to address them by their first name. And I'll admit, it is hard for me to call my college volleyball coach by her first name, something she has asked me to do. She will always be my coach and mentor; I respect her immensely. But there is no longer a need to delineate boundaries of rank between us. I can still learn and take direction or mentoring from her, but we are both adults now and I acknowledge that by addressing her by her name.

Adults who coach in a school setting may refer to colleagues as "Coach". This can be out of true respect, especially if that person is older or a well-established sport coach professional; but many times it is in jest and for the fun of it, almost in a mocking manner, when student-athletes are not around. If students are around, then we refer to each other as Mr./Mrs./Coach Fober. Otherwise, we refer to each other by our first names.


GMG said...

I think you are right on the money re: the use of 'coach'. It should represent a show of respect at all levels including collegiate. I see the lines blurred between coaches and athlete at the D-I collegiate level due to an increasing lack of formality (which is somewhat the current culture socially) and the desire of some coaches to want to be 'accessible' which translates into being considered friends with the athletes...therefore comfortable being on a first name basis. I can't imagine any athletes calling John Wooden anything but Coach Wooden when they were under his tutelage.


Anonymous said...

I'm with you and Vern on the distinction between coach and trainer. Your posts make me think about Ken Doherty's 9-9 coaching in his Track and Field Omnibook. Always look forward to reading your thoughts on the blog.

Tim Clark

Trihardist said...

Great article. I never really thought about it; I think my (adult) athletes call me coach mostly as a joke, but there's some underlying respect there, as well.

I agree with Vern re: coaching vs. training, but not with the use of language (I think your use of language is spot-on). I wouldn't consider what he refers to as "training" worthy of any name at all. I'm lucky enough to work with a group of professionals who are intent on continuously improving their understandings of biomechanics so that they can move further and further away from that canned workout approach of personal training.

"Trainers" who don't do that, I think, aren't really training anyone; maybe we should call them workout buddies for hire, instead.