Although I’m of the opinion that it can take years, even decades to master something, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t start the process during your graduate assistantship. Especially when you’re likely surrounded by those who HAVE mastered some of these things.
While the resources are at your disposal (other coaches, books, videos, etc), here are some areas you should begin mastering before completion of your graduate assistantship. By no means is this an exhaustive list--I’m sure I’m forgetting areas. But as a long-time coach and now administrator (where I’m still coaching in a different way), these are the opportunities that I HIGHLY recommend taking advantage of. They’re also ones that come to mind as I reflect back on my experiences:
Of note, with all the exercises/movement ones, I recommend being able to do at least one rep/demo of each. That’s not to say you must be able to lift as much as your athletes or be able to move like them, but I do believe as a coach you should be able to perform one rep of whatever you’re asking your athletes to do.
1. Teaching Fundamental Exercises:
Olympic Lifts such as Clean and Jerks and the Snatch and their respective variations
Power Lifts such Bench press, Squats, and Deadlifts and their respective variations and implements (chains, bands, boards, box, etc)
Auxiliary movements surrounding the Posterior Chain such as RDL’s, Hip Thrust, Hyperextensions, Reverse Hyperextensions, etc.
Understand programming fundamentals like training frequency, intensities, phases/blocks, periodization, etc.
Understand sport specific exercise selection for optimal health and performance of the athlete
Understand proper work to rest ratios in both strength AND conditioning/speed/agility work
4. Facility Management
Understand how your facility and equipment works from top to bottom including technology
Know how to properly organize, sanitize, and maintain the weight room
Emergency action plans
5. Nutrition and Hydration
Develop knowledge and understanding of fueling stations
Have basic knowledge of banned, permissible and non-permissible supplements
Become CPR, AED, and First Aid Certified
Become certified through one of the accredited major organizations
Make sure you finish your Master’s degree
Overall, no matter if you’re a GA, intern, new assistant or an old-timer like me, you should never stop learning. There are so many methods and philosophies out there to learn and try out for yourself. The only wrong methodologies are the ones you don’t make work for you.
Strive to be the best at what you do and don’t focus so much on comparing yourself to what others do. It’s always good to learn from other people, but those others aren’t YOUR benchmark of success.
Also, let’s stop putting another professional/ profession down. If you can help them, by all means please try. If you can’t help them, keep helping your athletes be the best versions of themselves every day. We are all role models – good and bad, so let’s choose to be good! Master being good and you’ll get far in this profession.