Becoming a trainer is a selfless endeavor. Selfish motives as a trainer only impede the fighter’s progress and the coach’s reputation. The bond you form with your trainer as a student (or vice versa) is difficult to put into writing. It is more than physical, and the traits of a strong student-coach relationship can be seen without a single word being exchanged. You come into the gym to “get work in”, this could mean pad work, bag work, and sparring… but you leave with much more than that.
Your trainer is teaching you things you won’t realize until you make the transition from student to teacher yourself. Here are the three things your trainer is doing that you might not yet understand:
Teaching You “The Way”
“The Way”, it is not what you might think, although the mind, spirit, and actions of a martial artist are taught throughout the journey. What this mean is the way things realistically work in combat sports. As a motivated athlete you will always see yourself ready, as a winner, it’s a mindset developed in many skilled athletes. However, this also puts a blindfold on you when it comes to any weaknesses you might have, especially against a specific opponent.
The uneducated eye will always have their personal opinion. Your coach will have the answer. He will take your personal life into account, your skill, your work ethic, and your mindset to set you up for success at the correct pace. People constantly come off the street talking about what they will do when they become a professional athlete, before learning how the game works. Friends and family attempt to coach you based one of your shadowboxing videos. Everyone sees the highlight, but fails to have insight on what “being ready” truly is. They fail to see the hours spent on medical visits, cooking, dieting, paperwork, and repetitive training sessions. Being ready to a coach doesn’t mean you are “ready to hold your own”. It means you are ready to endure the worst possible scenario and still be in the fight.
Your trainer is there to lead you to the goal you have of becoming a professional fighter, but more importantly to educate you on what it will take. If you expect to fight only after a couple weeks of training, your trainer will let you know that you are not ready to fight, but do not be discouraged. Use that as motivation to tweak the variables that you have control over. Control the work you put in, fine tune the things that you need to safely and effectively get in the ring or cage, and prove yourself. You are a product of your gym and coach, how you fight and how you act reflects upon your gym’s name.
Training You Based on Your Work-Ethic
Nothing speaks more than action. The work you put in day in and day out is ultimately what will lead you to success. Your trainer’s job is to provide you with opportunity, but that’s only if you match his or her efforts. You may have opportunities to fight for titles, to travel across the states or even internationally, but your trainer can’t wake you up and drag you to the gym each morning. You have to want it yourself.
“If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you”
Money can’t buy you results when your intrinsic motivation is not present. You can only go so far on someone else’s back before you have to rely on your own two feet to keep going. If you have a strong work ethic in life as a whole, you will always have open doors and new opportunities. Your boss, your trainer, and even your family will constantly see you as an investment. Not in a numeric sense of course, but if they are investing their time, money, and knowledge in you, they want to see you follow through on your end. Just like in business, if you don’t produce results, no one will invest in you.
Show your trainer you will outwork everyone else, and he will reciprocate your efforts to provide you with the best opportunities for you.
Judges You Based on Character, Not Skill
Skill can bring you a lot of attention. Though, we should never mistake attention for success or respect. Your character is what earns your trainer’s heart and respect. No one wants to train a skilled fighter who is arrogant or closed-minded for a prolonged period of time, if at all. There are many talented athletes in the spotlight who don’t have the respect of those around them.
There are many skilled athletes who have shut wide open doors because of their actions. As you may have seen in recent MMA and NFL news, amazing fighters and players who were seemingly irreplaceable, immortal beings, are having doors shut in their face. So imagine how quickly it can all end if you are not part of that top 1%? Remember you are replaceable especially when you have questionable character, Ray Rice was replaceable, and “The Machine” is training hard not to drop the soap because of his actions.
Be a good human being and be receptive to new ideas. You will make mistakes, you might even make bad decisions, and yes it is a good coach’s job to steer you in the right direction, but once again it is your job to listen to the advice, to learn and act, instead of just hearing the words. If you are good to others, help others learn, and are showing respect in and out of the ring, you will have a team to defend you during the times something does go wrong.
If you are looking to become a professional or you may already be one attempting to climb the professional ranks, treat every training session like work. Everyone can show up and clock in, but it is about how hard you work during that shift that helps you climb the ranks. Your trainer will be your best friend, psychologist, nutritionist, teacher, coach, pad holder, manager and more in return for your hard work and commitment.