Internet speed gurus and the people who love to hate them

Posted by Latif Thomas


I like to study the patterns. And I’ve found another one. It seems that a lot of brand name (and not so brand name) coaches out there have decided it’s their duty and responsibility to announce who is and is not qualified to create training products. They’ve also set the standard for what is and is not acceptable in terms of ‘marketing’ and ‘hype’.

Well, my friends. Since none of my fellow ‘internet speed gurus’ want to jump into the fray with a response, I will speak for all of us. And by that I mean I speak only for myself. So here is the truth about internet speed, strength and conditioning gurus and whether or not you’re allowed to believe the hype.

If we all lived in a vacuum, then athletes would magically flock to the coaches getting results without any marketing, sales copy or fancy logos. Only those who had a minimum of 20 years experience working ‘in the trenches’ and have coached X number of All Americans and/or Olympians would be allowed to sell that information on the great equalizer known as the Internet. And those ‘qualified’ coaches would each have a personalized video testimonial from Jesus on their sales page. And they’d make alllll the money.

Sadly, we don’t live in a vacuum. And I find this entire concept to be patently Un-American. The whole structure of America is based on the idea that if you hustle hard enough, you can be successful. You can’t say ‘you’re not qualified to create products and marketing is evil’ and then say that America is the best country in the world. This country was, literally, stolen and built on the premise of The Hustle. (I have a degree in History, so feel free to debate this with me. But first, read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.)

Let’s get down to brass tacks, my friends:

When someone we think is a lesser coach than we are appears to be selling more products and making more money than we are, signs better athletes than we have, gets more clients than we do, has more followers, speaks at more clinics and/or runs bigger camps, it bruises our Ego. It feels unfair and that fills us with anger and contempt.

Of course, if we lived in a world that had anything to do with being ‘fair’, the discussion would end here.  At the end of the day, this is the reason we rant about hype and marketing and unqualified coaches bamboozling the ignorant masses into buying products that aren’t as good as ours.

Let’s be real my friends. Most, if not all, of the coaches who rail against ‘marketers’ aren’t doing it solely because they’re purists who can’t stand to see their beloved sport and/or industry tainted. Such feigned piety is fascinating, hilarious and insulting to those people whose consciousness has expanded beyond believing our world view is any more accurate than anyone else’s. (Yes, I get the irony in this statement) Though it does keep their followers in line. But, hey, I’m American. I still believe in The American Dream. So I respect everyone’s hustle. I don’t hate The Player or The Game.

More interesting thoughts from Latif: 3 Reasons Sprinters Fall Apart at the End of Races

We live in a world where we’re constantly bombarded by marketing. If you want to be seen and heard, you need to spend almost as much time learning the business side of the game as the coaching side. I know this causes many coaches and trainers a great deal of psychological discomfort. They’ve spent so many years learning every nuance of anatomy, physiology and biomechanics they don’t want to have to learn business, too. Because they live in a reality where, again, products sold should be directly proportional to time in the trenches. But that’s not how the real world works. So, instead, we get mad. Because it’s easy to do and easy to find other ‘over worked and underpaid’ coaches to commiserate with.

Of course it bothers me when I see products created by 22 year olds who I know haven’t coached anyone. Just like it bothers me when I see sprinters with bad coaches beat my athletes in big races. Getting high and mighty won’t get my kid on the podium. I need to improve the way I coach.

I’m no fool. I read the forums. I’ve seen people bash me. I know it offends people that my stuff sells too. After all, I’m just a high school coach from the Northeast. Some Big Time coaches have been in the trenches longer than I’ve been alive. I’ve also never coached an Olympian. Or an NCAA All American. All I’ve done is coach HS kids to State Championships and teach them how to believe in themselves. You don’t get sponsored by Nike for that. So I guess that means I’ve got nothing to offer except overhyped marketing to compensate for my incompetence. It also apparently means my only goal is to make money.

But I’ll let everyone in on a little secret. I know my market. And so do the other people actually selling copies of their programs. Sorry contemptuous coaches, but the vast majority of consumers are not interested in your overcomplicated programs, big words and training schemes using equipment we’ll never have access to. And your bland product description looks too much like an article in the NSCA Journal and not enough like something that gets potential customers excited for your product. Truth is, the mass market consists mostly of youth (age 8-18) coaches, parents and trainers with a relatively small amount (<10 years) of ‘in the trenches’ experience. As long as your information gives them enough tools to make their regular kids in their regular programs better, they’ll buy your stuff.

It’s like this: Let’s say, on a scale of 1-10, Johnny Bigtime coach is a 10. And Latif is, say, a 7. Well, most consumers are between 1-5. So a 6 is plenty for their needs. When I speak at clinics or coaches approach me at meets, they don’t say,

‘Holy crap Latif, you sure are smart. Tell me more about the nuances of addressing muscle spindle fatigue’.

No. They say,

‘I like how you keep it simple. Thanks for validating what we’re doing in my program. I can tell you work with high school kids because you’re dealing with the same problems I am. Uncoordinated kids. Enabler parents. Poor equipment. No space. Jealous coaches. You’re like me.’

That’s why they buy. ‘Experience’ is only 1 of many factors they consider before they purchase just like ‘endurance’ is only 1 of the 5 biomotor skills you have to develop in practice. Place all your stock in one area and you’re not going to get the results you’re looking for.

I get a little bit depressed when I buy programs from coaches filming products in their fancy gyms with their fancy equipment. Most coaches can’t relate to that. I’ve got 90 kids and we use piles of dirt left by custodians as cones.

If you’re so smart and experienced, sell me a program that makes 400 runners fast when you can’t go outside and only have a 30m hallway. And have to run around piles of dirt on the floor.

For those who balk at ‘unqualified’ coaches using ‘hype’ over ‘substance’ to sell their DVDs, remember one thing about the business side of this game:

You don’t stay in business if your product/service doesn’t work or help. Like drug dealing, the money is in the comeback. Repeat business. The 80/20 Rule. So all hype, no substance marketer coaches won’t stay in business if their information sucks. Because the customer will be insulted and won’t buy from them again. I’m pretty sure that’s called ‘The Free Market’.

It’s also why I only promote resources from coaches I know and trust. Resources I use for myself and for my athletes. I know that people rely on me to lead them in the right direction. So I’m not going to endorse something or someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. It’s why most of my customers are repeat customers. It’s why we’re still growing as a company after being in business nearly 7 years.

In the real world, just getting results isn’t enough. You need to get peoples’ attention. Sometimes you have to over coach an athlete to get them to perform a particular movement pattern the way you want it. Sometimes you have to overhype your product or service to get people to give you their email address or take a flyer on your product or service. That’s just the world we live in. But I’ve been in this game long enough to know that we’d have a better class of coaches, from youth through college, if more of our best coaches were less afraid of marketing. Put down the anatomy book and go watch a Frank Kern video. Marketing is not bad. ‘Hype’ isn’t evil. And, whether we like it or not, it’s up to the consumer to decide who ‘deserves’ to create a product or who doesn’t. That’s the American Way. If you want to drive the undeserving marketer coaches out of business, then provide a better product and do a better job marketing it.

Speaking of great products: Complete Speed Training II

It may not be what you want to hear, but it’s the truth.

Want to weigh in? Post your comments below. You can disagree and even get mad at me. I will still post your comment. As long as it is coherent.

To your success,

Latif Thomas

P.S. The Top 3 reasons to follow me on Twitter:

1. Email is getting outdated. Stay current and get exclusive info that I’ll only be announcing via Twitter.

2. I have censors (sort of) who control what I say in the blog and through email. But on Twitter, I release the beast.

3. When I find good info scattered throughout the ‘net, I’ll tell you about it here. It won’t be in emails and it might not always be track related. But it will be interesting.

Check me out:

Latif Thomas - Latif Thomas owns and operates Complete Track and Field and serves as the Co-Director of the Complete Track and Field Clinic at Harvard University, the largest track and field clinic in the United States. A popular speaker and presenter at some of the largest coaching clinics across the country, Latif has true passion for the sport and it definitely shows. Over the past 19 years, he has coached more combined League, Division, All-State, and New England Champions in sprints, hurdles, and jumps than he can count. Follow @latif_thomas on Twitter.

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