FIve Lessons From 2015

If your social media feed is anything like mine it's been clogged up by every man and his dog offering words of wisdom and motivation for 2016. Do this, sieze the day, make your plans etc, etc, yawn, yawn.

I always find it useful to have a look at what I've done each year, a gentle reminder that stuff did get done and lessons were learnt. Here are five things that I learnt in 2015 that will make me a better strength and conditioning coach.

Fundamentals Rule

In 2015 I was fortunate to speak at a wide range of international conferences and workshops with diverse audiences (foootball coaches, dancers, physiotherpists, strength and conditioning coaches and business owners). The underpinning message that applied to everyone was this. Make sure you have the fundamentals in place before you get all fancy shmancy! I've know this for years so it's not really a new lesson that I've learnt, but 2015 reinforced for me that whilst many practitioners are busy chasing marginal gains, they've forgotten the basics. Anyone that is trying to make their programme sound super duper clever is doing that for a reason. The majority of people don't need super duper clever, they need super duper simple, applied consistently.

Greatest Love of All

I believe the children are our future

Teach them well and let them lead the way

Show them all the beauty they possess inside

Give them a sense of pride to make it easier

Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be

At the start of 2015 I was asked to deliver a CPD session at Leicester City FC on the physical preparation of young athletes. That one workshop exploring strength and conditioning in young athletes turned into a bit of a monster and couple of months later I'd clocked up some serious mileage on my motor and spoken to hundreds of coaches across the UK on how to train young athletes. It would seem that youth physical preparation is a bit of a hot topic!

It's pleasing to see some of the great work taking place at academy level and to see clubs like Manchester City FC and Bath Rugby taking the physical development of young athletes seriously. Whilst there are some beacons of hope, not every sport is up to speed on what it takes to create future champions. Progress is being made and the physical preparation of young athletes is getting the recognition it deserves. I've seen first hand what a simple and effective support programme can achieve when the coaches driving it are of the highest quality.

I wrote a bunch of posts in 2015 (why early specialisation is a bad idea, I don't care if you're a 13-year old superstar, just play to get fit, Jose Mourinho, Pianists and Football Players).

Maybe It's OK to do Crossfit

For years now, CrossFit has been an easy target for 'elitist' strength and conditioning coaches and I've sat and listened to friends and colleagues rubbish Crossfit - do you know what, I've probably even had the odd dig myself and I would suggest that many of those comments (mine included) have come from a position of ignorance. I was lucky enough to spend some time at the start of 2015 with two of the best Crossfit competitors (Josh Bridges and Matt Fraser) and their coach CJ Martin and what I saw made me sit up and have a word with myself (you can check out what I had to say on the matter back - Crossfit Sucks).

We attack things that we don't fully understand or feel threatened by Watching a montage of CrossFit 'fails' or reading a couple of forum posts from an industry expert doesn't always paint the whole picutre. This applies to any training system that we haven't taken the time to fully understand. It's easy to throw stones (that coach sucks, I can't believe that club use that training strategy etc). Take some time to understand what is actually going on, expereince it for yourself and then make a comment from a position of understanding.

Put your balls on the line!

2015 was all about getting them out and sticking them on the line. In September I launched The Professional Fitness Coaching Academy, a coaching programme that develops an underpinning understanding in the key areas of effective coaching. A couple of months later in November I launched my first proper grown up book (don't worry, there are still loads of pictures), The Strength and Conditioning Bible, a book that cuts through the BS and offers solid strength and conditioning training advice that anyone can follow. I struggled to push the button on both products, worried about what others may say. But then I went back and read some great advice from Seth Godin about 'failure to ship' and I realised that at some point you just have to push the button. I'm proud of both products, they add something and will help coaches, athletes and fitness enthusiasts to become better. That's got to be a good thing right?

You can teach an old dog new tricks!

I've sat and watched technology creep into strenth and conditioning coaching and for many years I wasn't really having it! I was in danger of becoming a dinosaur! In 2015 I embraced technology - I became a cockroach (check out my TEDx talk if you wondering what the hell I'm talking about!) and got stuck into Velocity Based Training. This is the way forward and wearable technology can now add some objectivity to our strength and conditioning coaching. We still need to be great coaches and there will still be times when we use that funny feeling in our gut to make a training decision but I've seen the future and it has numbers attached to it!

OK, I'm super psyched and pumped for 2016. Sieze the day, this year is yours blah blah blah, go get it (add additional motivational BS if you need to!).

I hope you found the lessons I've learnt helpful - what strength and conditioning lessons did you learn in 2015?