Principles before paychecks

OPP has never strayed away from pursing optimal performance training for each individual and their sport, and we never will. I am extremely proud of this. Over the last several months I have turned down a number of athletes who wanted to train with us. The athletes who are accepted pay a flat fee at the beginning of every new training wave. With the money I have turned down I could have made many upgrades to my current situation as both coach and father, from buying new equipment for my athletes too taking the wife and daughter on vacation. This however is not my goal. 

Never straying from your principles looks good on paper, but actually sticking to it is a totally different story. In 2018 I had over 20 athletes who I trained in person at a facility in Scottsdale Arizona. This facility was small and not well known. The owner of this facility was my boss and trained athletes of his own every day right next to me. Our training methods were so different from one another that the athletes were starting to notice. The owner asked me several times to adhere to his training methods. I was constantly told to watch what I post on social media and to be careful with what I say in the facility when it contradicted his training methods. 

My wife wanted me to bite my tongue and obey his requests for the time being. She had a feeling that one day his ego would get the best of him and would ultimately result in losing my job. Being the sole provider for my family and having a newborn at home, losing my job wasn’t really an option. But neither was straying from my principles. She knew this, we both knew this. We both deep down knew it was going to end one day because of this. We just didn’t know when.

My athletes had a comprehensive assessment, individual program, and proven strength methods to increase their performance in their sport. His did not. My athletes could ask me why we were doing a specific exercise, and I could answer in depth. His athletes never asked. They were too busy dying and throwing up outside from conditioning 7 days a week. After working there for almost a year, one day the owner pulled me into his office and fired me. His reasoning, “You are great at what you do, but we are going in two different directions”.

This was true. I was pursing one thing, and he was pursing another. When the money becomes your only pursuit as a coach, you have completely lost your way. 

Losing my job and having to find another facility to train my athletes at as soon as possible was a challenge to say the least. Fortunately for me, all of my athletes are loyal. The ones who are not are simply kicked out of the gym, or never accepted back. These are some of my principles: Loyalty, if you leave OPP to train elsewhere, you’re done here. Work Ethic, if you leave training for a few months to simply “take a break”, you are done here. Accountability, if you consistently show up late, you are done here. Character, if you are challenged in competition and respond negatively time and time again, you are done here. If you complain about the work or put negative thoughts in other trainee’s heads, you are done here.  If you are forced to leave momentarily because of financial reasoning, vacation, school, sport season, that’s a different story.

Accepted or Declined

The athletes we accept do not have to be gifted individuals who are better than most at their sport or stronger than most in the weight room. After the initial mobility assessment, we move to strength/speed/power tests. During these tests I do very little coaching and a lot of observing. I can see how the athlete responds to a group environment if they are getting assessed with other individuals. I can see if they compete or if they don’t. I can see if they will slow people down or keep the pace rolling. Are they quick to put the weight on the bar? Are they excited to test? Do they communicate with the other athletes? Are they focused during the tests? Are they criticizing others or analyzing their competition? The difference is key. Knowing what to look for separates the novice coach from the elite.

Aside from the collection of raw data, I use the assessment day to accept or decline new athletes.  A good coach with an experienced eye can assess multiple athletes at once. Collecting the data needed for efficient programming is only a small piece of the pie. One must be willing to look outside of what the data says for optimal training methods. A novice coach will only look to collect the data.  An inexperienced coach will simply train the athlete without an assessment and/or develop a general program for the athlete using subpar training methods they found on social media.

To close, I would like to impose these questions.

Coaches, are you only running a business you hope to cash out on one day? Or are you coaching athletes to the best of your ability while simultaneously running a business? 

Know where you are headed; know why you are headed there.

Athletes, are you training under a coaching staff that is constantly in the pursuit optimal training for you as an individual? Or are you working under a coaching staff that uses outdated training modalities because it is easier for them to hand out to the masses? 

Know where you train; know why you are training there.

Aj Arroyo

Aj Arroyo

Founder of OPP
Director of Player Development

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