Archive for Valerie Waters

Learning to Speak Coach

Posted in Random Thoughts, Updates, Training, Training Females, Uncategorized, Youth Training with tags , , , on December 8, 2011 by mboyle1959

Learning to Speak Coach – originally written for

My friend Valerie Waters is an expert in coaching females. She claims to speak “female”. Much like Mel Gibson in the movie of the same name Valerie knows what women want. She really believes that she speaks “client”. By that she means she understands what the female client wants and can present a program in a way that engages the mind of a female.

When I speak to strength coaches I often tell them my own version of the same thought process. You need to learn to speak coach. The great disconnect between strength coaches and sport coaches is often like the language barrier in a foreign country. Sport coaches always say things like “we don’t want to do football stuff”, “we want a program specific to our sport “ . Strength coaches often battle back by saying “strong is strong and fast is fast, you coaches don’t get it”. The truth is most coaches don’t get it on either side. Sport coaches believe that football players were supposed to be in the weightroom lifting heavy weights. In the coaches mind every other athlete should be running and lifting light weights so they don’t get too bulky and lose speed. How do we get around all these old school thoughts?

The simple answer is learn to speak coach. Much like Valerie saying she speaks “client”, we need to learn to speak coach. Do you think your soccer coach will respond if you tell him that when his players get faster they will get to more loose pucks? Of course not. In soccer it’s winning the fifty –fifty ball. You need to know the language. How about if you tell him that hang cleans will increase his players vertical jump and they will be able to dunk? He could care less but, if I tell him we’ll control more headers off corners, his eyes light up. When I say ‘well dominate in the box on set pieces” we are now talking the same language. The truth is, I’ve said the same thing but, in a different language.

In hockey coaches may say “who needs upper body strength”. When I answer, “we do” and then mention that hockey is the fastest game in the world played with less padding than football and with the highest speed collisions in sport, they immediately say “boy do we need upper body strength” and “Mike really understands our game”.

I could give example after example of how to speak coach. In women’s basketball and soccer strength training is important because it helps to prevent ACL injury. Want to get a female coaches attention? Talk ACL prevention. That’s the hot button. The truth is that strength training will make her players run faster and jump higher but, the way to sell the strength program is spelled A-C-L.

When the swimming coach doesn’t want his or her athletes to lift you simply say “but coach in short course swimming at least 33 percent of the race is start and turn”.  What makes for good starts and turns? Leg strength and leg power. Suddenly, you know swimming, the coach is your buddy and the athletes are lifting.

Bottom line is that you need to understand the sport, what makes the players tick and what makes the coach tick. Many strength coaches fail not because they don’t know the material but, because they don’t speak the language. Imagine this. You go to France. No one speaks English. Everywhere you go you speak English and no one responds. Would you be surprised if no one paid attention to you? Would you be frustrated? The key is to learn to speak the language.


In Defense of Tone

Posted in Guest Authors, Training, Training Females with tags , , on March 4, 2011 by mboyle1959

I’m posting a little counterpoint from my good friend Valerie Waters about my Tone post. Val has really changed my views on coaching women and as I said in the post, even if you don’t believe in tone a little white lie goes a long way.

“I use words like toned, sculpted, long and lean. I know full well these are marketing terms but is the language my client speaks. These words also tell me exactly what a client wants much like a guy might say jacked, cut or swol (this last one is a new term that’s popped up at my gym). In my opinion this tells me so much more than “I want to lift weights” or “I want to get strong”. If you begin the initial session with a female worried about getting bulky with a science lesson or the attitude that they should get over it and go lift some heavy weights, then you may just lose her to pilates or Zumba. I would prefer to reassure her that I will make sure she gets toned but not bulky and then I will march her into the weight room and give her an unbelievable workout, using probably about 80% of the exercises you would but a little lighter. Her goals may change over time as she starts to like the feeling of getting strong. Then again they may not. You can choose to not train everybody but recognize that there is more than one way to get someone fit. The first step is to get them started and then it’s to keep them coming back. Don’t lose them at hello.”