• Glenn Holmes

Blog: Personal Trainer vs Sports Performance Coach


Personal Trainer v Sports Performance Coach

The fitness industry is full of so many varied disciplines promoting health, wellness, mobility, movement, etc. However, I feel there seems to be an emerging trend of the term "sports performance” and a shift away from “personal trainer”. I often get asked things like... “oh you’re a personal trainer? do you teach Crossfit?” My answer tends to be something like, “No, what I do is different” and since I’m coaching a specific sport most of the time (boxing) there is always so much more to say and it’s difficult to explain in a nutshell. The differences between a traditional personal trainer and a sports performance coach / specialist...

Sports Performance…..

Athletes train completely different than the average individual. They need to train for power and strength adaptations etc., but their movements specific to their chosen sport is more important. E.g an athlete may be able to dead lift, bench press, squat ridiculous weights in the weight room, but if they cannot move their body effectively in a linear and lateral fashion, they will not be very successful.. A recent blog I read cleverly broke it down into 3rds: the weight room is just one third of what is involved in training athletes while the other two thirds are movement and sport specific skill development (which is usually taught by performance coaches). The difference between a personal trainer and a sport performance coach is that a 'SPC’ can not only coach strength & power in the gym and general fitness, but can also teach and coach correct movement for the given sport...acceleration, deceleration, multi-directional movement patterns, crossover and shuffle motions, etc. that are all utilized in almost all sports.

I’ve addressed the qualities required for elite personal training in previous blogs, but with this blog I’d like to highlight the benefit of adopting a ‘sports performance’ approach to personal training.

My goal with anyone, at any level who trains with me is to build athleticism. By adopting a sports performance coaching mentality and applying that towards the goals of the individual, (which when working with mostly general population is: fat loss, increased muscle tone, better movement, etc) I believe it will yield quicker, more effective functional benefits in a more fun & challenging environment. Welcome boxing for fitness, it’s second to none for that very reason… it’s sports specific with an entire universe of training methods that directly apply and benefit the skillset required to improve at boxing. Boxing for fitness allows non-professional athletes to train like professional athletes! To go back to what i said about “thirds”, the people I coach x3 a week get the benefits of my time a lot quicker as they are able to address the whole fitness picture in a week’s training: strength & power, explosive movements / speed, agility, quickness and boxing skill development.

It is cool to see many people, coaches, trainers, gyms, etc. interested in sports performance now, especially at the youth level. I remember as a kid I was never taught or coached how to be more powerful or explosive to jump further, to move quicker with a low center of gravity, the importance of deceleration & effective movement with changes of direction, I was simply told, "run faster", "jump further", "be quicker"! Nothing was broken down, taught or shown to us. It’s also fascinating to see pro athletes now hiring independent sports performances coaches outside of their clubs / franchises in the off season or while on comeback from injuries, etc and returning with even better results.

Looking ahead, I’d say we are seeing a shift towards sports performance coaching practices in a personal training environment, or at least I hope we are!