Charlie's demeanor

This is one aspect of the CF delivery I keep coming back to recently. In watching him in person twice and in viewing the videos I love how he provides feedback or instruction in such a low key manner-essentially “it’s no big deal”. In doing so, it would seem, the athlete who is either learning something new, refining, or correcting some aspect of execution is always provided with a task that does not seem so daunting.

Charlie puts the desired behavior/action into very simple terms, does not feel the need to raise his voice, and says often, JUST do this or that. Contrast that with people who over-coach (and I’m guilty of this in the past) of giving an athlete too many things to do to be successful in carrying out the task in question. Charlie had the way of making the desired behavior very simple and easy to accomplish. Now even if the overall movement was very complex, the athlete has a chance to get at least part of it right. One thing at a time and cued with as few words as possible.

I experienced this very thing first hand. It was spooky. He would make one or two simple matter of fact suggestions and it completely transformed my running technique in a matter of minutes.

he took an Olympic sprinter I trained and shaved .15 in limited work. Charlie would just give a simple key, no more than necessary and change was almost sudden. Same with a kid who is now in NFL. He said Charlie told him one thing, get chin up and tall posture after accel. Kid ran 4.35 at pro day. Before that he was about 4.43. Insane. He was one in a million. He and Ian King were both that way. Ian told me, tell them what they need to know, not everything you know. Sage words. Try to practice it still.

Keeping things simple goes a long way to attaining perfection.

Recently I’ve had a number of discussions about the merits of a person’s knowledge. Yep, their knowledge is diverse and the person has lots of it but my experience is that when the person coaches, to justify their ‘volume’ of knowledge, they try to incorporate as much of it as they can into the training program.

Ultimately you end up with a hotch potch program of too many elements that do not necessarily work well nor compliment each other.

Charlie Francis kept things simple and never overloaded an athlete (or coach) with too much info - he knew more than most, it causes confusion.

Instructions and info need to be concise and to the point.

Theres’ a very pertinent example of this in the rise of the Green Bay Packers. In 1958, under the coaching of Scooter McLean, the Packers went 1 win -10 losses-1 draw.

McLean’s playbook was 4 inches thick. McLean left the Packers and Vince Lombardi took over for the '59 season.

Lombardi had been an assistant coach for the previous 13 years, biding his time for a senior role. He had studied plays from all the major teams and had a wealth of info. One would of thought that with all that info, Lombardi would have been out to impress the Packers with a bigger, perhaps more complex playbook.

The players were surprised when at the first meeting for the new season, Lombardi presented a playbook only 1 inch thick.

Not as many different ‘plays’ but the Packers soon became extremely well drilled in how to execute those taught by Lombardi.

Lombardi went on to a winning season in 1959 of 7-5 and of course won 5 championships in 9 years, including the first two Superbowls.

There’s a lot to be said for the ‘old fashioned’ notion of keeping it simple.

Well said Youngy. In my years in this business I have tried just about everything and oddly, it all comes back to simple basics. So many young guys coming into the business want omega waves and Bodpods, basically every gadget that “looks cool and technical”. I think a med ball, a stop watch and some cones will suffice for 90% of the stuff we do.

Thanks SC,

Just recently my best athlete left me after discussions he’d had with a few people.

It’s given me time to reflect on where I’m at and what I could have done to prevent him losing faith in what we are doing.

Firstly there’s nothing I could have done - he was going anyway. Secondly (hypothetically) for him to remain it would have meant a massive paradigm shift for me involving a total compromise of my philosophy and how I structure my program.

Problem is when I’ve done that, things haven’t turned out so well. I realise later that I’ve changed things up for the wrong reason, and that is to appease the athlete. I shouldn’t compromise my ideals just to accommodate an athlete who is unwilling to have faith in what I’m doing.

It is amazing coming back to this site and we learn so much.

I try to follow the KISS approach, but have a long way to go.

Well said gentlemen.

John Smith approach clearly works for some, not for all.
As some of you say over coaching usually administered by those who lack experience, confidence and might not be willing to learn from others including the individual that is being coached.
Charlie referred to the over coaching term as
coach itis ( like a disease)

I think some coaches find their value is more in the verbage they use instead of the verbal and often non verbal cues they use. A friend of mine once teased me and said that the average male uses 10,000 words a day, he said I think you get by on less than 2. I just laughed, but I gues when I tune in, I tune all else out. Not much of a multi tasker. DMA, KISS is a beautiful principle. Many in this world would do better living by it.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said:
“A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living.”
We can interpret it as…“a little simplification would be the first step towards rational coaching.”

Smart lady, Mrs Roosevelt, she also is quoted as saying:

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Those 10 words basically sum up the message in the now famous commentary by her uncle, Theodore Roosevelt:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.’
Theodore Roosevelt - 1910.

Love that quote!

At 6:14-6:22 BJ said he did not need to jump around after winning (and the time presumably) since he had done that in practice. This goes back to CF. Even if that observation is relative to the performance after the race, no doubt it played a part in his development and his performances. Just repeat what you have done 100s even 1000s of times before.