The "Old School" Approach - Does It Work?

The "Old School" Approach - Does It Work?

I remember when I was halfway through my senior year at Drake University, I got drafted by a professional indoor soccer team called the Wichita Wings. They played in the MISL. It’s the MLS but indoors. I decided to take a few weeks off of school and show up for the team's training camp in February. It was not at all what I expected. Basically, it was a league full of guys that were too old to play in the outdoor MLS or were at the end of their careers and barely hanging on. Put it this way, after training sessions, the locker room had a hot tub and a cooler full of beers.

I had never played indoor soccer so I was curious to see what it was like and to get to know the team. Little did I know, I was in for an old school introduction to indoor soccer. I showed up on my first day, a Friday afternoon. That night the team had a game. The coach met me at the hotel, gave me a uniform, and told me to be at the stadium two hours before game time. I didn’t even know the rules of indoor soccer. I thought I would watch the first game and then start training with the team the next week. That didn’t turn out to be the case! Indoor soccer is a lot like hockey in that it is a very fast game and you have quick shifts of 2-3 minutes. Mind you, this is all in front of a screaming, drunk crowd of 10,000 people. My first shift ended in about 30 seconds. I ran on the field and was standing by a huge, 6’5” defender. I didn’t even have the ball. It wasn’t even close. And he elbowed me in the eye. Blood everywhere! I ran over to the bench and the athletic trainer had no sympathy for me. It was almost as if I had annoyed him by getting popped in the face. He stitched it up in the locker room. I walked back out to watch the rest of the game and, when I got to the bench, to my surprise, the coach told me to go back in. No joke. Ten seconds into my second shift, I made a pass off the boards and someone from the other team rammed my head into the edge of the board and split my chin open. I decided indoor soccer wasn’t for me. I headed back to Drake to finish up school. What turned me off to the entire experience was the old school approach of “just jump in and figure it out as you go and see if you can survive.”

Some of you may have had a similar experience, minus the elbow to the face and the body check into the boards, at a gym. You show up and are expected to just jump in with little to no instruction. I’m here to tell you that it shouldn’t be that way. That’s an old school approach! What we know now is that for someone to have long term success with their health and fitness, we have to begin the process by meeting you where you currently are in your journey. I call it a process because that’s exactly what it is. It never ends and your always progressing.  

Our process starts from the moment you walk in the gym. But it doesn’t end with just making sure you can move well and that you understand how to be safe. It’s a process that begs trust! We know trust isn’t there without a relationship. The reason I say trust is so important is because part of our process is experiencing some level of discomfort. As you grow, improve, and seek to see change, you need to step outside the bubble of what you are used to doing and feeling. It helps to have a coach that can guide you through this. You need to build trust with a coach, so that when you are asked to do something you haven’t done before, you have someone there to help you understand, to support you, and to make you feel heard. I knew in those first 30 seconds that I couldn't trust that coach with my safety in the short term. How was I supposed to trust him with my long term growth and health as an athlete? When you have a safe movement practice and solid shapes and positions that you know how to get into (squat, push up, pull up, etc.) and you have a coach or group of coaches that you trust, you have the beginning of what will be a long and successful process to build something effective and rewarding for you.