It doesn’t matter if you’re a coach, therapist, or athlete: becoming better is a continual process. This field is growing and changing so rapidly that many coaches will be left behind simply because they won’t grow along with it. In order to build a successful career, it’s imperative that we surround ourselves with new ideas and new people to learn from.
That’s what this new series is all about.
In The Smartest Coach in the Room, I talk with a wide variety of experts from the fitness, sport, and performance industry — some known, some unknown — about the profession they’ve dedicated their lives to, and the tips, tactics, and trade secrets they’ve used to get to the top of their field.
Most of the experts I’ll talk with for this series are so busy working in the trenches that they rarely have time to write articles or speak at conferences. That’s why it’s a real treat to be able to hear from them directly. Enjoy!
Gerry Ramogida: From Volunteering with Zero Pay to a Superbowl Ring
Gerry Ramogida is one of the best therapists out there and has worked with some of the fastest and most powerful athletes on the planet. He’s spent the last 15 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks football program, where he earned his Superbowl ring in 2014.
In our conversation we talk about how we got started in the field, what it’s been like to work with some of the best coaches in the world — from Pete Carroll to track-legend Dan Pfaff — and we cover some of the most important lessons he’s learned in over two decades in the sports and performance industry.
Listen to the full podcast conversation below — and check out the conversation highlights below that.
Highlights and quotables from Gerry Ramogida
I’ve always been interested in sports, but I didn’t have the genetics to be a great athlete myself. I had the work ethic, but not a lot of talent. So decided I better do something that allowed me to still be involved with the passion that I had for sports.
When I got out of school, I volunteered pretty much for any team that would allow me to hang around and learn. Fortunately for me, I met a young coach named Kevin Tyler, who at the time had some great young junior athletes, who ended up developing into world-class athletes.
I didn’t make a dollar with track and field until I was in it for over seven years. A lot of times, we were spending our own money to be able to go to these events to support the athletes we were working with.
Through Kevin I started learning active release technique (ART) with Dr. Michael Leahy. And through that, I was introduced to a coach named Dan Pfaff. Dan had a long history in the track and field world at the highest level with many, many Olympic quality athletes and world record holders. (Note from Joel: Plus, he has arguably the greatest mustache in the history of sports coaching.)
It was really that introduction to Dan Pfaff that kind of transformed where I’ve ended up. Working with him drove in the fact that to really work with athletes successfully, you had to be involved within the training environment. You needed to see what athletes were attempting to accomplish from a movement quality standpoint on a daily basis in order to direct successful treatment. And it started this idea that treatment should be a proactive occurrence — not just a reactionary effort to injury or to problems.
We’ve seen an explosion of movement screens and various types of strategies over the past few years. But Dan’s whole approach has been observing athlete movement going back 30 years.
Here’s what I learned from Dan: An athlete’s movement screen happens from the moment they are walking from the parking lot onto the track. There’s no time that you shouldn’t be observing an athlete in motion to learn about their physical and mental state.
When I got out of school, I realized that my skills were limited when it came to soft tissue. The repetitive patterns I was seeing in terms of joint restrictions were dictated by soft tissue dysfunction. ART was the first road I went down, and it had a great impact on the success of my overall treatment.
I still encourage people to start with active release techniques. It demands a knowledge of anatomy and an understanding of function so that when you put your hands on someone, you know exactly the structure you’re on and you know how to impact or influence it.
Pete Carroll’s [coach of the Seattle Seahawks] mantra is “always compete.” It’s about the ongoing daily effort to do things better than they’ve ever been done before. And when you look at successful programs, that’s really at the heart… it’s about daily improvements, striving as an individual to make yourself better than you were, and doing things better than they’ve ever been done before.
If you feel like you know it all, or you’ve gotten to a point where you “know enough”, complacency starts to set in. And that can be the killer of what you’re doing. It can rob you of your passion.
I was on the track with Dan, and he said to me, “Look, I just need a good coach, a therapist, and an athlete. That’s all I need to be successful.” What he meant is that if each individual in that “performance trinity” has a common understanding of what’s trying to be accomplished — if everyone’s on the same page—then the chances of success are much higher than if everyone has their own agenda.
I want to empower coaches and trainers. You’re the front line. You have the luxury of watching individuals perform in a training environment. You’re in a unique position where you can observe movement, recognize movement deficiency early, and use some simple inputs — whether it’s your hands or exercise recommendations — that will prevent the development of injury and allow an athlete to continue.
One of the most athletically gifted individuals I’ve ever watched was Chad Brown, linebacker with the Seahawks. The things he could do in terms of just moving dynamically, you know, huge vertical, jumping over players who are trying to block him, and then landing and delivering a technically perfect hit. He’s one guy that really sticks out.
Marshawn Lynch is another guy that sticks out. Funny story: He owned this very nice completely decked-out Mercedes Sprinter van. Back in November of 2014, I had a significant flood in my house, which basically took out our main living area. Marshawn was on the table and I was doing some work on him and I told him what was happening. His biggest concern was that my family and I had a place to stay. He was insistent that I take the keys to his Sprinter van. Now, that’s all well and good, except that I had to remind him that I had to cross an international border into Canada. And I’d have to explain why I had Marshawn Lynch’s decked-out Sprinter. I passed on the offer. But as an individual, he’s one of the nicest, most intelligent, most generous guys that I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with.
If you can continue to improve your skills, it will show in your performance and the individuals you’re working with. It made me a better provider, gave me greater experiences, and ultimately it got me to a point where I’ve proven enough to those who are writing the checks that they should keep me around.
How Are You Becoming The Smartest Coach in the Room?
Mediocre coaches stop learning once they have a little success. Good coaches continue to learn, but only from people within their specific expertise. Great coaches continually expose themselves to new ideas and new experts — no matter what field they’re in.
The goal isn’t to become the smartest coach in the room and stay there.
Instead, the goal is to stay open to ideas, stay passionate about what you’re doing, and work your way up to the top…before starting over at the bottom again in a different room.
That’s how you grow your business. That’s how you get better results with your clients. That’s how you build a career that lasts.
So my question to you is this: Who are you learning from — and how are you using that information to become better?