I want to set the record straight with this blog post on some assumptions that have been made on how valuable I find personal programming to be for a successful athlete. Clearly, I believe that programming plays a huge part in one’s success and is largely irreplaceable in many aspects. However, I do not believe it to be the top priority. Today I wanted to post a quick synopsis of what I believe to be the top three priorities for successful training in any sport or fitness endeavor.
First on the list is coaching. Eyes on and consistent coaching from a qualified, passionate, invested coach is the most invaluable thing an athlete can have. Nothing replaces the eyes of an experienced coach watching you complete workouts and compete on a regular basis. The consistency of a coach whose eyes know what to look for and who knows how to correct common errors in your movement; ironically, is not an exception in major sports, but it’s the rule. There is no baseball team in the MLB without a batting coach. There’s no basketball player in the NBA without a shooting coach. There’s no NFL team in existence without a defensive coordinator. Successful sports teams and athletes have found that acquiring eyes on coaches, who know what they’re doing, is crucial to their success. I believe the same is true for weightlifting and CrossFit.
Secondly, a positive and success driven training environment is crucial for success in competition. I recognize that there are exceptions to this rule as there are many who have trained by themselves or train in a less than ideal training environment and have succeeded still. However, the vast majority of successful athletes are surrounded by other successful or striving athletes with the same passions and desires for the sport. This is obviously a requirement for any team sport but even sports like wrestling or golf or weightlifting work to create training environments conducive to success. The more people you can surround yourself with who are driven the same way that you are, the more likely you will succeed on days when all you want to do is quit or fail. Training environment goes so far as to include training partners. On the same note as the importance of a consistent coach, and importance of a consistent training partner or a consistent team of partners is invaluable. People who will push you to beyond your limits on a regular basis are crucial to success. Furthermore, training partners in a consistently positive training environment will help make your bad training days better and your good training days exceptional.
The third priority on this list is programming. I recognize that this is likely the aspect of peoples training that gains the most attention in the sport of weightlifting or CrossFit, but without the other two previous aspects, programming will do very little for your success. However, given the right coach with the right training environment, the right programming can be the last missing piece to your success. Ultimately, having a wise coach who is experienced in their field writing your workouts is much more beneficial than you writing your own, or worse a coach that doesn’t know what they’re doing writing your workouts. Programming is however, only as effective as the athlete who performs it. The best program in the world will fail with an athlete who doesn’t give all they can to the program. The importance of programming really is built upon two assumptions. The coach who is programming knows some of the basic tenets of strength and conditioning, and the athlete who is performing the programming is giving it all the effort they can.
I have always stated that my priorities for athletics rank in this order. Unfortunately, all three of these are often hard to find and bring together for one athlete. Furthermore, a good coach, a premier training environment, and smart programming will still only create success if the athlete applies themselves. Even the best of situations can fail if that athlete isn’t willing to commit. So I guess really the number one priority is a mindset for success before any of these markers are part of that athlete’s life.