Former Navy SEAL Firearms Instructor, Chris Sajnog

By Coach Jeremy Hoy, MS, CSCS, PES

With the vast amount pseudo-science and flashy, well written, well designed, and extremely well marketed fitness and sports performance websites saturating the internet, magazines, and television, it has become extremely difficult to sort through all the BS and truly find a coach or company that is honestly interested in helping you, experienced, and just completely honest.  While I will be writing many more posts in the future about the state of the fitness and sports performance industry in the different sectors (private, collegiate, high school, professional, etc.), I wanted to quickly kick this off with some food for thought.

I recently purchased and read, at a friend’s suggestion, How to Shoot Like a Navy SEAL: Combat Marksmanship Fundamentals

As someone who has been around guns my entire life, and has been shooting for as long as I can remember, I found this book a nice little gem that offered some sound fundamental advice that provided insight into not only the world of shooting competitively but also combatively, and how shooting fundamentals vary and make more sense in each world.

But also, as a lifelong student of performance training and coaching, and all things explosive and dangerous (which also mean safe and secure when in the right hands and utilized for the correct reasons), I tend to pull content out of books that I find can translate well to the performance training and coaching industry.

For the purpose of this post, I really liked the way that the author assembled his thoughts and verbiage in the beginning of his book, and felt a strong connection with the message he was conveying, and often felt like he was talking to me, and talking for me about the situation in the coaching/instruction industry.

Original content from How to Shoot Like a Navy SEAL: Combat Marksmanship Fundamentals

Edited content changes and commentary reflected in transition from firearms instruction and shooting industry to fitness/performance coaching industry. If you don’t have Chris’s book, I highly recommend picking up a copy.

(Most of what is written below is taken from his book, with changes made and specifically directed to the fitness and performance training industry.)

There are a wide variety of fitness and sports performance coaches out there; some are good and some…not so much. The quality I’ve seen ranges from great coaches that I continue to learn from to others who have no business in any part of this industry, but have been marketed well, have abused the buddy system, and have been fooling people for years. I don’t want you to think that I’m saying I’m the best or anyone else is the worst, I just want you to make an educated, informed decision anytime you’re seeing instruction to thinking about how they are as an instructor/coach, not just a former athlete, or self-proclaimed guru (if you check out the testimonials by performance coaches on most training websites, you will find a lot of the same names on each other’s websites—this is called trading testimonials, or scratching each others backs to make it look or sound like their product is just super—in reality, its just a bunch of coaches doing each other favors and misleading or fooling the customers!).

If I played football I’d want Vince Lombardi as my coach, not Aaron Rogers. Just because Rogers can pass well, doesn’t automatically mean he can teach you how to do it and vice versa for the greatest coach of all time. Just make sure you find out about their method of instruction and their science/educational background. Do they insist on perfection of your fundamentals or do they insist on showing you cool-looking techniques that they saw on the internet or some TV show or some flashy, gimmicky stuff that someone famous endorses (who is being paid to endorse, by the way)? If you’re training just so you can shoot cool videos you can post on YouTube, that’s one thing, but if you want to be a true master, and be the best athlete you can be, or get the results you want from your fitness training, then take a step back and check your fundamentals.

What will eventually cause the downfall of any training program are a trainer’s lack of commitment to the fundamentals or the students’ lack of insisting on its instruction. Rarely are instructors critical of minor details of the mechanics of specialized training for sports performance, which will eventually cause beginners to try and jump forward to the more advanced training techniques. In the end, this will lead to an athlete who might look cool, but never seems to get any better, or gets injured.

As in instructor, it’s natural to want to show my students more advanced training exercises and techniques, but in the long run, I’m doing them a disservice. Based on the value I add, my professional experience, and market rates, they’ve paid a lot of money –so I want to show them how good I am, but my goal is to make them better athletes and perform great and I can’t do that when I move away from the basics (fundamentals) too quickly and onto the advanced material. Training is about making my students better, not about me!!

In athletics/sports performance training, you really need to nit-pick the fundamentals of movement and training technique and insist on them relentlessly with every exercise, in every workout. If you do this, you will be impressed by your progress and your mastery of the training exercises. The sooner you learn the mastery of the fundamentals is the key to more effective performance training, the sooner you will become a truly better athlete. By just committing to the basics of performance training, your training will improve, you’ll progress quickly, and you will gather an immense amount of respect from those around you.