Don’t “just do it” – why drill instruction is bad coaching

drill instructor coachingIt’s important to have an instructor or training partner who keeps you going, and pushes you to reach your goals. But it’s also important to recognise that a good coach should do much more than just that. A coach, a trainer, or even a casual spotter, should never be there just to spur you on. If you truly want to succeed in your fitness and health goals, to achieve your maximum potential and avoid injury, you need someone to give you technical guidance as well as motivation. A good coach is not a drill instructor. Here’s why:


Improvement is the real motivator

A good coach or training partner concentrates on technical improvement. From correcting the orientation of your knees to the depth of your movements, paying attention to the way you’re performing your exercises is often more important than focusing on how much you do. When you improve your technique, you’ll improve your ability, and that is real improvement.

And with real improvement should come true motivation, as you know exactly why you’re doing it.

Lifting a higher weight or performing a higher number of reps because you’re spurred on by shouts and cajoling from your trainer or audience may give you a rush, but it leaves you missing the point of what you’re doing. A drill instructor screaming in your ear to stop being lazy and just do it gives you no goal other than to get through it.

Your exercise coach should appreciate the direct result of every movement you perform, to ensure those extra reps have a meaning. The challenge is not to hit a number, but to change the way your body works, for the better.You yourself should be thinking about how your exercises impact your physical health – so prepare to train your mind as well as your body.

With this concentration, the exercises you do have real, quantifiable meaning, and that should be more motivating than any shouting.


Creating the right pressure to power through

Exercise can be tough, and sometimes your coach needs to be tough too. But there’s a huge difference between the macho demands that a drill instructor would make, urging you to power through to prove what you’re made of, and the hard work demands of a coach who understands that the grind must be endured to reap real benefits.

Your coach or training partner isn’t there to make you feel bad about failure, or to provide motivation based on how tough you are. A good coach doesn’t want you to prove anything;  a good coach asks you to push yourself hard enough to improve.


Anyone who can watch can coach

Whether you’ve got a dedicated coach with a six month plan or a training partner who’s just joined you to spot a few sets, whoever you’re training with should be able to give you these technical cues. Lead by example, and when you’re spotting your training partner, offer advice, not empty words of encouragement. Telling someone to go on or push it won’t help anyone improve their technique; thoughtful, observant tips like knees out, chin in and split the floor are what will change the way someone moves.


Always remember, it’s perfected technique that brings the most bountiful rewards in fitness and health. The more reps you do with an incorrect form, the closer you’ll bring yourself to injury; and anyone who just pushes you to do more is doing you a great disservice. When you pay attention to the details and improve what you’re doing, not just how much, then you’ll really start to achieve. A good coach understands that, and will help you get there.

About Knee Strength

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