Today’s thought of the day is about “knowledge”. Many people (in our context, let’s say personal trainers), will make claims about knowing “more” than someone else, and state that their value which they can offer you is more than that of another trainer or gym.

Now while I 1000% believe in the constant expansion of a trainer’s knowledge base, and I think we should learn and try and read and consider other and new ideas constantly, I do not believe in ever trying to compare yourself to anyone else. There are so many different things that we can learn about and focus on, yet quite frankly, those things have little to no bearing on one’s effectiveness as a coach/trainer of actual people.

I know some INCREDIBLY knowledgeable individuals with allll sorts of letters after their name (Certifications, Degrees, etc) who couldn’t teach someone in layman’s terms how to pick something up off of the ground. Conversely, I also know people who have watched a 4-minute how-to video on the YouTubes, yet could probably lead a complete newbie through a safe clean and press after a few minutes.

The key for me, is to be someone who knows how to safely teach movements we perform, and do it in a way that makes sense to each individual athlete! Some people can hear and adapt concepts to their own actions. Other athletes need hands-on instruction of the “trial-and-error” sense until they can FEEL the movements themselves. That is what I love about coaching so much. You may need to explain the same concepts in 20 different ways to 20 different people in order for the message to get through effectively.

So it’s not about how much you know. Once you can ensure that your athletes are being as safe as possible, then it’s about your individual ability as a coach (and human) to communicate with whoever it is that’s in front of you. So to get better at coaching, I would absolutely recommend reading and learning more. At the same time, however, spend time in front of your athletes and focus as well on improving your craft. In that sense, we are all our own unique people. No two coaches will ever be the same.

This all ties into our video below somehow, believe it or not! Read the summary, which is copied directly from the TED Talks description for the video:

“Gravity. The stars in day. Thoughts. The human genome. Time. Atoms. So much of what really matters in the world is impossible to see. A stunning animation of John Lloyd’s classic TEDTalk from 2009, which will make you question what you actually know.”

John Lloyd opens the clip by, basically, telling us that we (as a people) actually know very little… about anything! Check out the video below, and try to put “knowledge” into perspective a little bit after watching. Hope you like this one!


  1. Aaron Brill says:

    I like your thoughts and the video was cool/interesting. I’d also say that someone’s ability to do a thing, their internal self knowledge, doesn’t necessarily make them a great coach. It might, but not necessarily.

    I really like you’re line about no two coaches being the same. A thing that bothers me is when someone says they have the ‘best trainers’. Based on what? For whom? Towards what end goal? I’ve been tempted to put on my website that “we ARE like other CrossFit gyms, like the other good ones. If we’re doing it right, we’re doing it pretty much the same. Come in and check us out, check out some others and find the one best for you”

    Tom, your dedication to being the best coach you can be is admirable and serves your athletes well!

    • Smashby says:

      Aaron, I agree completely. Kevin Ogar (local athlete that we all know and friend of mine) and I used to talk about this quite a bit a few years ago. His stance is this, “It’s the SECOND-TIER athletes that tend to make the best coaches.” (And Kevin, if you read this, feel free to correct me if I misspeak) But his point was essentially this; most of the time those “Top Tier” athletes are always too busy focusing on honing their craft. Making themselves better. A lot of the time, their skill comes naturally.

      The next tier of athlete, that second tier, are the ones who may not have the natural talent, but work their tail off for their skills. They are students of the sport, attentive to detail, observant, and constantly looking to learn and improve. On many levels, he and I agreed on this point!

      Let me note, that Kevin also considers himself one of these athletes. In my circle of friends, few people view him as “only” a second-tier athlete. But what do we know?!

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