“I don’t care if you have to shit on yourself, do not let that other motherfucker out-curl your ass.”
— CT Fletcher
I love watching CT Fletcher’s videos. They are funny and quite often inspiring.
But, god damn, please don’t coach like that!
I saw a recent video of CT Fletcher working with a new group in a seminar. While I laughed my ass off… I thought it would make for a good example of what I DON’T want you doing.
- If you are an athlete looking for a coach, this article will help you to find the right one.
- If you are a coach, this will help you avoid the worst mistakes of coaching.
Before we dive into the discussion, let’s watch the video:
I’m not actually picking on CT.
This article has nothing to do with CT Fletcher!
This article is about YOU (if you are a coach) OR it is about how to find a good coach (if you are an athlete).
The people who choose to work with CT Fletcher (or others who coach this way) are doing so as adults. They can do any damned thing they want. I believe in freedom. This is America, Jack.
If you want a good ass-whipping for the sake of an ass-whipping, and are willing to pay $2500 bucks to get it, then you are a true masochist and should do exactly that.
Like I said, I actually really LIKE CT Fletcher!
I honestly believe he is a genuine dude and that he does care if the people he works with do well…
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean his methods are the right methods, nor that you should be emulating them.
What’s happening in this video is hardly unique! It is happening all across the country. It’s becoming the new thing.
These coaches mean well… but, there is a better way.
“The road to Hell is paved with good intensions.”
Athletes vs Coaches: Opposites Attract
Great athletes make the worst coaches, with very rare exception.
There ARE glaring exceptions to this rule! — Below I discuss 2 of them: Chris Duffin & Ivan Rojas — men who are both great coaches, and are/were world-class athletes.
The mindset of a great athlete is the exact opposite of the mindset of a great coach. They are diametrically opposed!
- The mind of an athlete says, “I don’t care what it takes, I’ll die if I have to.”
The mind of a Coach says, “If you fuck up tomorrows workout, I’ll kill your ass.”
See the difference?
The first is selfish, myopic, and wildly aggressive. That is essential for a serious athlete. Never forget: Athletes are crazy. Sports are nuts.
In the moment, an athlete MUST learn the skill of shutting their brain OFF and doing what it takes — no matter what. It is a battle: kill or be killed. (In a fun way, of course!)
The second mindset is wise, controlled, more concerned with your future than the moment.
Coaches don’t win battles, they win wars.
- Athletes must develop the mind of a Samurai.
- Coaches must develop the mind of a Shogun! 1
If you are both, you must develop both. That’s some hard shit to do.
What Is Coaching?
Great coaches get higher than average results out of their athletes — with lower than average injury rates.
They do this by being smart.
Real coaches always:
- Set the bar VERY high
- Teach you exactly how to reach that bar
- Pull you back so that you don’t kill yourself in the process
Real coaches do NOT:
- Become your external motivation
- Scream and yell about everything under the sun
- Tell you to shit on yourself 2
Coaching IS teaching.
You can’t be a great coach unless you first learn how to teach.
“Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.”
Real coaches care about QUALITY more than QUANTITY — even if (like me!) they push as much quantity of that quality as possible.
In the gym, quality always comes first.
That is the opposite of what most coaches do.
Most coaches push quantity, “hardness”, “soreness”, and other stupid shit at all costs. They do this precisely because they (mistakenly) believe it is their job to “motivate” their clients.
Your Job Is NOT To Motivate Your Athletes
If you need CT Fletcher to yell at you so that you’ll finally work your tail off:
- You will NEVER be a good athlete
- You will never reach your goals
- You will live a life wishing you were someone other than yourself.
Motivation comes from within. There is no way to change that.3
You can’t force motivation. Jesus, even Drill Sergeants don’t yell that much!
By doing this, you are making your athletes weak, not strong. Most coaches do this because it looks like you are getting “results” in the moment. After all, someone finally pushed harder than they had before.
The problem is that it’s fake.
The instant you are no longer around, the athlete will go right back to being a wimp.
Teaching someone how to be strong — on the INSIDE — is hard work. But that is your real job. If you are the “yelling” coach, you are failing.
How To Pick A Good Coach
Never, never, NEVER choose a coach based upon what they did as an athlete!
If you do this, you are nothing but a moron fan-boy — and you deserve your future injuries and lack of success.
It may be true that your coach had (or currently has) some impressive numbers. But that has NOTHING to do with their abilities as a coach.
- What are they able to do WITH OTHER PEOPLE?
- What are they able to do with people JUST LIKE YOU?
These are good questions to ask:
- Do they know how to train beginners?
Do they know how to take someone UP to the national level starting at nothing? (rather than recruiting people who are already good)
How many people have they done that with?
Can you honestly imagine spending 15 – 30 hours per week in the gym with this person for the next 5+ years?
Honestly, my advice is often to choose someone who is rather new to coaching, but is passionate about TEACHING — especially about teaching people just like you. What they lack in deep experience will be MORE than made up for in honestly, dedication, and passion.
The key is their interest in the art of teaching. If they have that, it will trump everything else.
What you MUST watch out for is the Athlete Mindset. If they are constantly in “bro mode” while coaching you, you are going to pay the price.
This tendency is the MAJORITY, so you have your work cut out for you.
Most new coaches only know how to be an athlete, and they think that yelling louder and pushing you harder is where success comes from.
They won’t suffer for that — you will.
Two Examples Of Great Coaches Who Were Also Great Athletes
Like I said, there are a few exceptions out there of people who are BOTH great coaches AND great athletes.
It’s fucking rare as hell, though!
So, it is worth looking at a couple of examples of two friends of mine who are exactly that: Chris Duffin & Ivan Rojas.
The first is a Powerlifting coach, the second is a Weightlifting coach. That’s how they are different.
What they SHARE is — wait for it — teaching!
Chris Duffin, owner/coach of Elite Performance Center, is a world champion powerlifter — so he is certainly a great athlete!!
But, that has almost nothing to do with why he is ALSO a great coach.
As an athlete, Chris is a maniac. He will force his body to deal with levels of stress and pain that are well beyond what any human would consider “reasonable”.
What is truly cool to watch, however, is what happens to him when he starts COACHING: his entire personality flips!
When Chris Duffin is coaching, he is almost the exact opposite of what he’s like when he is lifting:
- He’s calm and soft spoken and (dare I say) … gentle!
He is intellectual, more than willing to dive into deep conversations with you about the science behind his methods.
He is willing to always stop, listen to what you have to say, and help you to understand something for real… rather than just yell at you and make you feel like a fool.
Real coaches are good teachers.
My friend Ivan Rojas was a world-level Olympic weightlifter when he was younger. He now owns Risto Sports and has coached many high level athletes from all over the world, including his own wife Gwen Sisto.
Ivan is one of the only Olympic weightlifting coaches in the country who I would feel comfortable sending my own weightlifting athletes to.
That isn’t because we use the same methods or have a similar style or tell the same jokes or any of that superficial crap. It’s because I know Ivan is a TEACHER.
He’s a great teacher, and that makes him a great coach.
Ivan Rojas is deeply intelligent, thoughtful, and a total hard-ass about the most important stuff: safety, smart programming, technique, etc.
Like all good teachers, Ivan Rojas has VERY high standards and he demands that you reach them. He then TEACHES YOU how to reach the bar he has set for you.
THAT is good coaching.
Conclusion: Wear A Diaper Or Find A Good Coach
Sadly, America has become a hot-bed of the “yelling” coach. Screaming and forcing and shitting have become the new standard.
Every year, the CrossFit “challenge” WODS in gyms across the country get more and more insane, and more and more people are getting hurt — badly.
This is not confined to CrossFit or CT Fletcher!!
It’s everywhere. It’s a scourge that must die.
Smart coaches are hard to find. But the surest sign they are not smart is if they coach like an athlete.
Real coaches don’t coach LIKE athletes, they COACH athletes.
Now go lift something heavy,
PS. Chris Duffin and I have a crop of new Super Total coaches (trained by us, personally) who we would highly recommend to you if you live near them. Hit me up if you need a recommendation.
PPS. The photo at top is of Carrot Top, the comedian, who might be the real-life pukey the clown. The very fact that Pukey the clown is considered cool in CrossFit is not a good sign that the coaching practices are wise, safe, or top-notch. That would be like Weightlifters glorifying a cartoon of a monkey that gets decapitated by a missed snatch… Yep, that’s definitely cool. Safety is for pussies, right?
- Sports are not just War by analogy, but by history. They were developed as a way of preventing war in a species like ours so prone to it. Ironically — and awesomely!! — training this mind-skill makes you MORE able to be peaceful in your everyday life. THAT is our brand of Zen: Samurai Strength ↩
- Ok, fine. I admit that I might periodically tell an athlete to shit on themselves. But only as a method of staying warm in the winter. ↩
- When we are recruiting for new members of our competitive team, we never care about an athlete’s physical genetics or current ability. Fuck that shit. I care about your MIND. Do you have the right attitude, do you know how to train like a maniac while AT THE SAME TIME being positive and fun and lighthearted? If not, you don’t make the cut. I don’t care about your big glutes and massive bi’s. Most of my favorite people in the gym are not the “traditional” athlete body type. But they have the mind of a warrior. ↩