Can coaches train others and be an athlete themselves? Yes, but it’s not easy and the harsh truth is you may not be great. The people who try to make this balance work become “jack of all trades, master of none.” Coaches must strive to figure out what is more of a priority. If both weigh equally the next step is finding balance. If a coach wants to be an athlete, they will be a great athlete and a good coach. If a coach wants to be a great coach, they will become a good athlete.
But what does good mean? What does great mean? This is up to the coach. I define a great coach as someone who puts their clients before anything. All of the coach’s time and energy is devoted to the success of their athletes. Their number one priority day in and day out is to watch their clients succeed. The clients’ success is what designates a great coach. When clients continue to hit their goals whether that be strength numbers, feeling more energized, or living a more fulfilling life… that is when a coach is great.
A great athlete is someone who excels in their sport. In the sport of fitness this may look like qualifying for the CrossFit regionals or the CrossFit Games. A good athlete is someone who may place top 100 in the CrossFit Open but who hasn’t qualified for regionals. Greatness is someone who is committed, has skill past natural athletic abilities, has built volume and repetitions, and is no stranger to the grind. Those who are great in their sport can’t spend their time thinking like a coach. They need to spend their timing thinking like an athlete.
The first step a coach who wants to train and be an athlete must do is figure out where their priorities lie. Prioritize your priorities. If coaching a few group fitness classes, a day and spending the rest of your time focusing on your own training works for some coaches, great! But if a coach is struggling to find the balance it may be because they need to decide where it will be best to be good in, and where they really want to be great.
The unsurpassed tip for balance is to get a schedule and keep it. Google Calendar can be an absolute game changer when used consistently. Stick to the time frames allotted. If the calendar says program 6-9am, and train 9-11am, at 9am the first task must be finished and the next needs to begin. This may seem simple but it’s easy to get off track and let work roll into training or vice versa.
Another key is to make sure people respect your time. If a coach is training, it is training time. That means from 9-11 people are not asking you questions about their workout and instead letting that be YOUR time to be an athlete. Coaches who train and coach must make sure they use 100% of their training time. Not 75% training and 25% helping other people who are in the gym during their session.
There is no right or wrong answer in what you as a coach decide to do. The answer lies in where the coach’s priorities are. Where do you spend the most of your time? That is the easy way to figure out where your priorities lie. Does the coach see themselves as an athlete who can focus on their sport and coach as a hobby? Or does the coach see training others as a career and training as a hobby? If the coach values coaching and training equally, then it is up to them to find balance. Both coaches and athletes need to evaluate their short term and long term goals and make a game plan accordingly – whether that be the game of sport of the game of life. Figure out what your priorities are and begin creating balance based on them.