It’s that time of year again. The gifts unwrapped, the trees and lights have been put away, and the N*SYNC Christmas album placed back on the shelf. The tidal wave of Christmas might be gone, but that means a new one has appeared on the horizon that coaches and gym-goers are all too familiar with: the Resolutioner, aka the Resi. New Year means New You, and there is never a shortage of people who want to get healthy, get back in shape, or try something new.
Unfortunately, the word Resi has a negative connotation, and these folks have earned a reputation of not making it past the first month before slipping back into old habits. But, what if as a Mercenary Coach, you could change that? In today’s article we’re going to touch on some of the common categories of Resi, expanding the definition a bit, and discuss how you, as a coach, have the power to help make this year different. And, we’re going to do so using the Competency Model taught in the Power Athlete Methodology - Level One course.
Unconscious Incompetence: The Newbies
This first stage of the competency starts here. When I say unconscious incompetence, I don’t mean it as an insult. Put simply, individuals at this level don’t know what they don’t know, and that includes how to move. Maybe they were walking by your gym, heard the weights dropping and loud music, and decided to poke their head in. Or, maybe joining a gym has been on their to-do list for awhile and your gym popped up first in their internet search. Whatever the case, they are starting at ground level, and as a coach you have the ability to build them up to be Towers of Power. They are craving someone to coach them, and you get to be the one to do so.
Your coach’s eye will be working overtime with these folks, while still having to coach the class at large. Pairing them with a veteran mover can help ease the pressure, but it’s still imperative you don’t let them slip through the cracks. Treat them like all your other athletes, circle back to them regularly during class, and show them that you care, rather than looking at them as someone who will be gone in a month.
Conscious Incompetence: More Newbies and Returnees
Here we have our “veteran” white belt; individuals know how they should move, but they also know that they aren’t doing it. Maybe they’ve done this style of training before (around this time last year), but have been off for a bit. Or maybe they are a veteran of the weight room and know how they’re supposed to be moving, but just can’t figure out why they aren’t. More often than not this group needs a little more in-depth assistance. This is where using things like tactile cues and isometric holds, to help these athletes locate the movement, comes into play. And just like before, make sure to keep checking in with them regularly during class. These individuals are the cusp of competency; they just need us to get them there.
Conscious Competence: Anchors and Old Faithfuls
We’ve now transitioned to the third stage of competency. In this stage, the athlete knows how to move well, and can do so, but must consciously think through each step as they execute, almost as if they are going down a checklist. You may not think of these as typical your stereotypical Resi, but remember resolutions aren't just for folks new to fitness. Think of these as a seasoned member of your community who wants to try something new (ie compete in their first lifting competition), or an experienced lifter who may be using the new year to try a new gym.
They might not need your coach’s eye as much as people in the first two categories, but that doesn’t mean you don’t coach them at all. At this level, the biggest thing they need is deliberate practice, and you control the perfect scenario to provide it: the warm up. You can do things like layering in more challenging variations of our isometric holds during the warm-up, providing more opportunities to practice maintaining posture and position in a low-stress environment. These folks are poised to move to the final stage of competency, and with just a little push from Coach they’ll get there. And, as a #sidebonus with this crew, especially if they are long-standing members, is that during these high-transition months you can rely on them as your anchors in your class; they know what’s going on, and what needs to happen to help things run smoothly.
Unconscious Competence: The Go-Hards and Blow-Hards
Finally, we reach the last stage of competency. Individuals at this level know how to move, move well, and do so without thinking about it. Collegiate and professional athletes, and your vets with long training ages who put in the work to develop proper movement patterns and positioning, fall into this realm. More often than not, their resolutions revolve around performance points; hit a certain number on a squat, or under a certain time on their 40yd dash. I’ve subdivided this into two smaller categories, since I think it best encapsulates the folks you’ll see at this level. Despite their proficiency, both still need your coaching...how you go about it will just have to be a little different.
The Go-Hards are your ones who burn the ships and leave it all on the floor, but are still receptive to your coaching. Any little tip, tweak, cue, enchantment, or rain dance you can offer them to help better their game, they’ll take. They’ll dissect it, ask questions about it to understand it, and embrace it if it means giving them any sort of edge. With athletes in this category, they’re going to want to know the “why” behind your cues and tips, so you better have them ready. Be prepared to articulate the purpose of a cue or correction, and explain how it’s going to help them.
I should add a caveat to what I said earlier about knowing how to move; sometimes your best athletes aren’t your best movers, but your best compensators. They are still able to perform not because of, but in spite of their movement. And, they know just enough to be dangerous. While they may initially blow off your coaching cues, don’t look at them as lost causes, as they provide an amazing learning opportunity for you as a coach. But, much like Maverick buzzing the tower, it’s all about the approach.
Yes these individuals might be compensating, but the bottom line is that they are still top-level athletes, and your chances of making them better by focusing on improving their in-game performance slim to nil. Instead, utilize their performance on the field to highlight their limiting factors, and then focus the warm-ups and movement preparation as targeted, low-stress opportunities to systematically attack them, shoring up those holes in their game and making them even more unstoppable.
Time For a Change
Studies suggest that about 64% of people who make a resolution will stick to it beyond one month, and only 46% will last beyond six months. As a Mercenary Coach, you’re literally on the front lines with these folks helping them to accomplish their goals. Invest in them, coach them up, and you might be the one that helps them make that temporary change a permanent one. But, don’t lose sight of your core group of athletes. They may not need as much coaching, but they are a big part of your culture. And if there are any big dogs in the yard, you’ve got to let them bark. These are just five general archetypes of the New Years microgym scene, to provide a quick reference that will allow you to connect on a personal level with each athlete and ultimately becoming a transformational coach to your athletes.
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In the Navy he began working one on one with individuals who wanted to make positive changes to their fitness, discovering his passion for helping people improve their performance and health. He continued to work with individuals and small group through the rest of his career in the Navy. He currently coaches at two gyms in San Diego, applying the principles from the Power Athlete Methodology to both general population and field sport athletes.