How To Become A Good Coach

By: Jonathan Byrd

Name me another sport that you can show up and compete a few times and all of a sudden you are an expert coach? There isn’t any, and powerlifting sure as hell isn’t any different. This trend of online jerk offs drives me nuts. What the hell gives you the balls to tell people that you can coach them and show them the way? This sport takes time, some serious dedication and more knowledge than any of us may ever develop. I will be the first to tell you I have a massive ego, but even I keep mine in check when it comes to coaching others.

Instagram more than anything drives me nuts. People all calling themselves coaches, knowing damn well they only have a few meets under their belt and nowhere near enough time under the bar. If you have not spent several years sheading blood under the bar, sit down and shut the fuck up. You are going to get these people hurt! Look, there is nothing wrong with helping people, but when you are charging people way too much money for your knowledge level and giving them some cookie cutter program, you should slap yourself.

Here is the deal, I am not saying what I have done is the only way to do it. What I am saying is that all the successful coaches I have known have had very similar paths. You want to do it right? Take these few tips to get you on the right path.

First, spend several years under the bar. Find a legit mentor and follow their lead. Think of it as on the job training. Spend your time watching, observing and taking notes. Learn to ask questions when the time is right. That time might not be at the gym, therefore you might need to do things outside the gym. Who would have ever thought that right? I will buy lunch for someone in a heartbeat if it gives me a chance to pick their brain. There are lots of different ways to get strong, so you better have at least a working knowledge of most of them! I am not even saying you have to be a world class lifter, but you damn sure better be a competitive lifter and have some knowledge.


Start for free! Don’t charge people out the gate, you are not that freaking good! Coaching is much like playing chess. You have to learn to move the pieces around the board to win, and you can’t do that without practice. You damn sure shouldn’t be practicing on people you are charging, that’s just messed up! You need to develop a resume as well as a reputation for helping lifters. You do a good job, word will spread. I coached people for two years before I ever charged a single person. I made a lot of mistakes in the beginning, it is not easy, and it’s damn sure not quick. It is time consuming, and it has to be for you to be any good at it.

Start slow! Don’t take on too many lifters at one time, this is a mistake I learned the hard way. If you are doing the coaching right, it’s difficult to handle a lot of lifters needs. There are going to be times that you have to get on the phone and talk with your lifters. You are going to have to help them plan around family events, work, travel and god knows what else they come up with. Keep your numbers low until you have a good organization system that allows you to efficiently use your time.

Stick with what you know, and try to learn what you don’t. Stay within what your knowledge area is. It’s really that simple. I am not a diet coach and I don’t have the knowledge or that skill set. I tell my clients that upfront. You need some basic advice, sure! You want me to make you look like Danny Vega? Better email him instead! This falls back on to you, to keep learning. I am doing my best to learn more in that area, but it will be at least another year before I would feel good about giving out much advice.

Don’t bash others online. I know, ironic coming from someone who just called a bunch of fake coaches jerk offs. The difference is those people are flat out steeling money. The real truth is you are going to run off a lot of clients and very good lifters with foolishness. Go ahead and bash their style, federation or where they choose to lift. This will hurt you in the long run. I am not saying you can not take a stand for the things you believe or enjoy, just don’t bash others for lifting where they enjoy.

I am sure there might be a coach out there with only a meet or two under their belt that is ok, but lets be honest there are better options. If you are one of those guys reading this, take at least parts of my advice and continue to grow and learn. Your clients will thank you, and eventually you will get to the point where you have to turn away people. If you do not have the lifters best interest in mind, then please don’t even bother coaching!


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Jonathan Byrd

Jonathan Byrd is a competitive powerlifter, with over 16 years of training experience. Byrd has been ranked nationally for the past 6 years under multiple categories. His total has ranked as high as second nationally in the 275 class. He currently has a best total of 2500lbs. Best individual lifts include a 1040lb squat, a 750lb bench press, and 735lb deadlift. His 1040lb squat ranks him 26th all-time squats at the 308 class. Jonathan currently trains out of Team Samson Gym in Jacksonville, FL. Before powerlifting Jonathan was a college athlete at Methodist University as both an all-conference football player and track athlete. Following graduation he played four years of arena football in various leagues.
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