30min Rant about Coaching and expectations

In this series of articles, I will give myself 30min to write about a topic – a rough draft to published. It will be harsh and straight to the point. Let’s see how a few of these go and if I have any friends left after this period of time.


In strength training, or powerlifting in particular, what is the actual role of the coach? It really depends on what is agreed upon, first of all, as it can vary greatly. But one thing is for sure: you can only instruct and explain, you cannot understand it for them or do it for them. Also, you cannot promise success.

One of my mentors used to say (and still does), “when they win, it’s all them, but if it goes wrong, it’s all your fault.” Has there anything more real in coaching ever been said? I’ve seen this happen to myself, close friends, and fellow coaches over and over. Luckily, it’s not happened too much to me, but sometimes people literally want you to wave a wand over them and magically give them the King Midas touch. Whether it’s a big lift or a better feeling back; everyone is looking for the quick fix that doesn’t exist.

As a coach, you can only help people, guide them, advise them, cue them, but what they do the other 150+ hours that you either don’t see them or have no idea what they are doing is why you can’t ever promise success.  The onus is on the client to provide an overview, ask the right questions, follow the program and provide useful feedback. It’s up to them to succeed.

So many clients program hop when the next big thing comes around. What’s worse is many clients mix programs and start implementing stuff secretly without telling you just because they know better. They typically won’t tell you, but it comes out somehow or another. None of this is new, and it’s a lose-lose for everyone involved.

Some clients you tell over and over the same thing week in and week out, or tell you the same thing over and over (excuses), and they never change, so at the end of the 10 or 20 weeks, nothing has changed, and it’s your fault. Again, they want the magic wand waved.

I’ve learned that you cannot care about their wellbeing and success in sport more than they do. You can repeat yourself, yell, or the like, but until they are ready to be coached, adapted, modified, or however you want to put this, they will do what they want to, regardless of what they pay you.

Just because you hire a top coach does not mean that you can now sit back and coast. You must continue your education, especially if you want to understand every aspect of what you are being coached on; it’s not up to the coach to spoon-feed you. You have to ask questions, but again, you have to do your own research to understand the complete context of the answer you are getting. It’s not our job to understand entire books for you or be your google search engine.

Ensure that when you hire a coach, that your goals are clear to them, and understand that everyone has limits in strength training. Not everyone is going to total 2000lbs raw and 2500 in gear. The truth is you’re not likely to do so. Newbie powerlifters see big weights lifted but have no idea what it takes to get under them and do them.

When you hire a good coach, you can only get out what you put in, and we can’t care about your programming and success more than you do.

When you take on a new client, coaches make sure goals are understood, and those goals are discussed and realistic. To quote Gift of Injury “you will never take a St Bernard to win at the racetrack, all you will get is a broken dog.”Goals MUST be realistic and achievable within reason. Clients wanting to jump hundreds of pounds in a year should be met with a realistic answer. In most cases, it will not happen regardless of what they have read or seen.

We can only help prepare you, you have to execute.

The following two tabs change content below.
Avatar photo

Brian Carroll

Owner and Founder at PowerRackStrength.com
Brian is a retired world-class powerlifter with over two decades of world-class powerlifting. From 1999 to 2020, Brian Carroll was a competitive powerlifter, one of the most accomplished lifters in the sport's history. Brian started off competing in bench press competitions 'raw,' then, shortly into the journey, he gravitated toward equipped lifting as there were no "raw" categories then. You only had to choose from single-ply (USPF) and Multi-ply (APF/WPC). Brian went on to total 2730 at 275 and 2651 at 242 with more than ten times his body weight in three different classes (220, 242, 275), and both bench pressed and deadlifted over 800 pounds in two other weight classes. He's totaled 2600 over 20 times in 2 different weight classes in his career. With 60 squats of 1000lbs or more officially, this is the most in powerlifting history, regardless of weight class or federation, by anyone not named David Hoff. Brian realized many ups and downs during his 20+ years competing. After ten years of high-level powerlifting competition and an all-time World Record squat at 220 with 1030, in 2009, Brian was competing for a Police academy scholarship. On a hot and humid July morning, Brian, hurdling over a barricade at 275lbs, landed on, fell, and hurt his back. After years of back pain and failed therapy, Brian met with world-renowned back specialist Prof McGill in 2013, which changed his trajectory more than he could have imagined. In 2017, Brian Carroll and Prof McGill authored the best-selling book about Brian's triumphant comeback to powerlifting in Gift of Injury. Most recently (10.3.20) -Brian set the highest squat of all time (regardless of weight class) with 1306 lbs – being the first man to break the 1300lb squat barrier at a bodyweight of 303 lbs.
No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Contact Brian Carroll

Schedule A Consult Below

Take 25% OFF
Your first purchase
Subscribe Now!