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“I don’t know,” Can be a powerful and underutilized phrase in strength and conditioning. Why it’s ok to not have all the answers.

Be Okay With Saying I Dont Know

As strength coaches, people come to us for answers on how to fix things or at the very least, on how to improve things. This is a reason we believe that continuing education and practical experience should be constantly honed in the facility and always a work in progress. As a coach, I have noticed that too often we allow ego, a fear of appearing unsure or that not knowing everything is a weakness we must never show our clients. This happens a lot with less experienced coaches, but I’ve seen it in some veteran coaches as well.

However, “I don’t know,” is a powerful phrase because while it does admit ignorance in the moment, it is a catalyst for discovery. Asking questions and trying new ways, when others don’t work, can lead to some amazing advancements with your athletes.

Here’s the thing, the body is incredibly complex and each individual is just that, an individual. Meaning what works for some people just won’t work for others, no matter how many cues or explanations you provide. Even shorter, it is impossible to have every answer immediately at your disposal. Let’s not forget, strength and conditioning is a science, so we need to do some trial and error and observe feedback to help better guide our next hypothesis and formulate a strategy to achieve our end goal.

How do we apply this to coaching on the floor?

A common example is adjusting your cues during a set. For instance if the first cue you used didn’t help you both achieve the desired result, it’s perfectly ok to say, “scratch that, let’s try this instead on the next set because I want x to happen.” Then re-evaluate to see if the new cue worked or not. There will be times you strike out, but as long as you are communicating with your athlete and trying to address the problem in a symptomatic, logical process, they will at least know you are actively working towards a solution. Often times, admitting you don’t know, but are working towards a solution will show your clients that you are engaged and dedicated to finding the proper path forward and will buy you some hard earned trust. This “shared ignorance,” can be a huge buy-in tool with your clients and athletes. Now, it’s up to you to find those results and problem solve as efficiently as possible and grow your library of cues and types of cues. More on that in future posts.

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