Introduction to Coaching Rules
by Brendon Rearick
Unlike our predecessors, it’s now possible to retire from a long and successful career as a strength and conditioning coach, personal trainer or group fitness instructor. Our professions have earned the respect of other fields and are now collectively considered a legitimate career path—being a trainer or coach is no longer viewed as just a hobby.
And with all of the available training information, you’d think there’d be more about the how-tos of coaching. There are countless books on theory, access to thousands of research papers and you can attend a continuing education event every weekend, but who’s teaching you how to be a coach?
That’s why I know you’ll enjoy this book.
With the right tools, you can change someone’s life. As Billy Graham put it, “A coach will impact more people in one year than the average person will in an entire lifetime.”
You are capable of:
- helping people find purpose,
- motivating people to realize potential they wouldn’t have otherwise,
- improving performance so much that people receive collegiate scholarships,
- making training an experience people learn to love,
- helping people find reasons to take better care of themselves, meaning they’ll be around longer for their families.
By taking this oath, your responsibility is to develop yourself into the best coach you can be. It’s what your clients and athletes deserve.
This book was inspired by Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. His three tenants, “Eat food. Mostly Plants. Not too much,” are brilliantly simple. These three answers to the question “What should I eat?” will transcend time.
But can nutrition—can coaching—really be that easy? To take a complex topic like nutrition and whittle down into something anyone can understand takes sheer determination.
When I was asked to write a book about coaching, I knew Food Rules was the format I wanted to replicate—brief, sensible and easy to digest.
Coaching Rules is a culmination of everything I’ve learned in the fitness field, beginning with my time at Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning (MBSC), considered the mecca of functional training gyms — I learned in dog years there. I’m forever indebted to Coach Boyle for his wisdom and for the opportunities he and Bob Hanson gave me during my time at MBSC. Much of what Mike taught me about coaching rings loudly throughout this book.
Dan John’s influence is also woven into the pages that follow. After reading Dan’s book Never Let Go: A Philosophy of Lifting, Living, and Learning, my drive to improve the way I coached became my priority. I read every coaching book I could get my hands on; I took continuing education courses and sought out respected coaches who were willing to share what they knew.
My experiences at Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning and meeting Dan John were defining moments in my career. They put me on a path of self-schooling that continues in my work with Movement As Medicine and Certified Functional Strength Coach (CFSC). These two businesses embody what I know and love about coaching.
The rules in this book come from two places:
Experience—my own and what’s been passed down
These rules have been pressure tested by real people. Don’t be surprised by their simplicity.
If I’ve learned anything about coaching, it’s that what you think is going to work doesn’t. Coaching is a science, but it’s time to also look at it through the lens of art, feeling and relationships. This is not to say science and research don’t have a place; they do—just not in a book made to be this practical. This book is for you, a person who wants to make coaching a career.
What year are you set to retire? How many years will you spend in this field—20, 30 40 years? I’m set to retire in 2055. That’s 46 years as a fitness professional.
A commitment like this takes stamina and grit. Applying the rules you’re about to learn will help to conserve energy, your most precious resource. Use your energy wisely and protect it fiercely.
Coaching Rules covers what I believe to be the six biggest obstacles you’ll face when pursuing success: complacency, egotism, poor communication, lack of connection, overcomplication and client attrition.
I’ll use three guiding questions to address these obstacles:
How should I coach?
How should I program?
How do I make coaching a career?
I hope these 105 rules spark questions about what you do, why you do it and how you do it. If that reflection justifies change, do it. Change is constant and necessary for growth. Show me a coach who can say, “I’ve found a better way and will change,” and I’ll know it’s a coach who’s respected among their peers.
After reading each rule, take time to reflect on how it’s relevant to you from a career standpoint or how you engage with your clients. If you have a “duh” moment, rectify it. If you have an “ah-ha” moment, implement it. If you have a “hmm” moment, observe it and discuss it with a fellow coach. As writing coach Richard Dowis says, “Rules are guidelines, not substitutes for thought.”
To a young coach, I want this book to be a sturdy platform to begin your new career. To a seasoned coach, you’ll find subtle reminders, fresh perspectives and reassurance that you’re not alone.
This is a book I wish I had when I started coaching.