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newsletter Nov 09, 2023

Reduce Friction

By Eric Bugera

Make things as easy as possible, but not easier.

  • There are an infinite number of routes to attaining a client’s goal.
  • What is correct for your individual client may look different than what a textbook or social media post has taught you.
  • Coaching is about reducing barriers to success. 
  • Wield your knowledge to reduce barriers, not force a client into the final shape of their goal earlier than they can handle.

Take It Easy

Training philosophies tend to shift with the social media winds. What one person says may resonate and catch fire – soon becoming the standard of practice until the next clever one-liner emerges. What never changes are the underlying principles that drive adaptation. From physiological to psychological or simple behavioral change, there is a steady – predictable – selection of criteria that drive success. Predictability is less eye-catching than a paradigm shifting meme or infographic, but it also is a potent stress reliever once we all finally accept the reality of training. Conceptually, it is simple; however, in execution, individual human complexities are a significant and continuous challenge to success.

Smooth Is Fast

Maintaining a methodical, uninterrupted pace (no matter how small the steps) keeps a client moving in the right direction. The aim is to achieve a goal as fast as possible, but the qualifier “as possible” must be taken very seriously. In order to maintain a steady flow of forward progress, it’s extremely necessary to manage expectations of the coach – not necessarily the client. With the vastness of training knowledge at your fingertips, it’s easy to be distracted from the fact that you are coaching a human, not programming a machine.

Each factoid that has infiltrated your brain needs to be examined and integrated into a broader perspective on goal acquisition. Training success isn’t determined by knowing the best route available within a vacuum, it’s about knowing every route imaginable and tailoring your choice to the individual. The “fastest route possible” may very well be off the beaten path. You may stop to smell the roses or be completely rerouted to an adjacent goal before the main one is even realized. Just don’t stop. Keep moving and the small habits that truly drive success will consistently be practiced in the background.

Rushing leads to errors, and errors lead to inconsistency. SMART goals (specific, measurable, ATTAINABLE, realistic, and time based) are a common training process – but they can be broken down and applied on an even more incremental basis. Each step across the broader framework of your training can be further isolated into individual steps. When your first plan turns out to be less than ideal for the human in front of you, goal set your initial goal set. Slow is smooth, but smooth is fast. Do it right for the person in front of you – not to validate your pre-existing biases or personal preferences.

Life Is Hard Enough

Most clients will struggle at some stage of training. If not, they wouldn’t have elected to take on your professional services. Reflect on your own training success (and failures). The final shape of your habits today are likely not the way they looked at the onset of your journey. It’s incredibly important to have empathy for this fact. Your knowledge is an asset, in only so much as you are able to shape and mold it to the needs of your client. With everything that the human experience throws at your client which may potentially derail them, reduce as much friction as you can. Take it slow, reduce barriers, and have patience.

  • Line up your client’s goals – SMART goal set them if you have not.
  • Discuss potential barriers or challenges your client has experienced (or is currently experiencing with your training right now).
  • Plan alternate routes, keep every option on the table to provide the best service possible for your individual client.