Coach Tip Tuesday: Fundamentals are the Foundation
Tuesday is here again, and for the 104th Tuesday in a row, it is Coach Tip Tuesday.
That’s right, friends. TWO YEARS of Coach Tip Tuesday. It seems hard to believe and very believable all at once. Coach Tip Tuesday was born out of sadness, but it’s turned out to be one of the most fun things I do work-wise week-to-week. Honestly, I think I learn more from these than some folks reading them do!! :)
...and that leads me to this week’s tip. I can’t think of anything better to talk about on the two-year anniversary of Coach Tip Tuesday than this: No one, and I mean NO ONE, is too advanced for fundamentals. Fundamentals, skills, basics - whatever you want to call them - are the foundation from which all other gains are made in sport. If that foundation is not stable, nothing else in your athletics pursuits will be.
Everyone reading this knows that I’m a coach. Many of you also know that I am an athlete as well. I’ve completed every distance of triathlon up to IRONMAN, every running distance race up to the marathon, and several cycling and swimming-specific events. One might say I have a lot of experience all the way around, and I do. But I also have this:
A body that has done all of these things in the past, but isn’t entirely capable of doing most of them right now. A body that needs regression in some areas and progression in others. A brain that is not too proud to admit this, and a heart that accepts where I am and has high hopes for where I can go in my future. Specifically, my coach’s brain also knows that I don’t know everything and that I’m never going to be too good for anything. Each and every time I go to a new certification class, attend a coaching symposium, read a book about coaching or sport, or talk to my colleagues, I learn something. And in doing so, I also realize that there is *so* much that I do not know. Yes indeed, the more I learn, the more I realize I have left to learn.
An example: I’ve been a certified personal trainer (strength coach) for more than two years, and I’ve taught a weekly strength training class (FFXT) at Fleet Feet Syracuse for most of that time. I study human movement all the time, strength training is part of my normal existence, and I know a lot about it (if I do say so myself :) ). I walked into my colleague Rachel Harvey’s CrossFit class at Amnesty CrossFit one month ago as a participant. I left my coach’s brain at the door; Rachel was in charge. She had me doing a squat. Cool, great. A squat is something I do regularly and is a core movement in my own strength classes for the athletes I work with. One might consider this a “basic” human movement. Guess what, kids? Rachel corrected my squat form. Did I tell her that I knew what I was doing and didn’t need her input for this “easy” movement? Certainly not. She had something to teach me about something that has been a very established part of my athlete’s and coach’s toolbelt, and I listened. And guess what? I got better. I’m stronger now. All because I accept that I am not too advanced for fundamentals or too advanced to listen to someone else.
The most elite athletes in the world are not there by accident. It’s very much on purpose. They got to where they are by practicing the fundamentals of training day in and day out. It’s the foundation of the proficiency they now have in sport, and they’re all smart enough to recognize this and ensure that that foundation stays strong.
So this week, I encourage you to have a pretty hard, but honest, conversation with yourself. Acknowledge where you are and understand that the more solid your foundation is, the greater gains you will make as you work toward your goals. Accept that fundamental skills are for EVERYONE and that everyone does, in fact, include you. Work on these fundamentals. The drills in the pool. The cornering skills on the bike. The activation exercises when you run. Your form when you’re doing strength training. And continue to work on them, even as your fitness increases and your skill level rises. Make sure that foundation is and stays strong, and you will go further than you ever imagined. :)
Thanks for sticking with me for these 104 tips over the course of the last two years, my friends. I’m glad you’re here with me. :)
Coach Laura Henry
Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.