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Training Partners
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Watching this commercial got me thinking about training partners. Training partners are an essential part of most sports. They provide encouragement, friendly competition, the odd rebuke and of course–help you train the aspects of your sport you can’t train by yourself. Or that’s what they’re supposed to do. Unfortunately, sometimes training partners can prevent progress rather than foster it. So it’s important for athletes to be discerning. Over the years I’ve learned two important lessons about training partners . . .

  1. You will become like the person you train with.
    I can’t over-emphasize this point. If your training partner is a lazy, ignorant, excuse-filled, thumb-sucking, moron–you’d do better to train by yourself (unless Homer Simpson is your athletic ideal). Only a high-quality training partner can provide high-quality training. Sounds obvious, but I’ve seen more than a few athletes blow their careers (and health!) by selecting the wrong training partner. This point leads on to the next . . .
  2. To get an awesome training partner, you have to be an awesome training partner.
    For the vast majority of my ‘training life‘ I’ve had great training partners. I’m convinced one of the reasons I’ve been so ‘lucky‘ is that I’ve made it my business to work on my partner’s development just as much as I work on my own. I’ve always viewed training with others as a means of mutual improvement.

So what should you be looking for in a training partner? I think there are three must-haves . . .

Mad Keen

Yep. You want to train with a person who is absolutely [insert your sport] mad. He’s the bodybuilder with the life-size poster of Ronnie Coleman in his bedroom (with Ronnie’s face cut out). He’s the boxer who continually leaves streaks of urine on the bathroom walls, because he’s compelled to bust out a punch-combo whenever he’s standing still. A person like this will turn up to every training session on time, locked & loaded, and ready to put in. And they’ll make sure you put in too!

Informed

Nothing worse than training with a moron. At best it’s annoying, at worst it’s hazardous to your health. I’m not saying your training partner has to be a rocket scientist, but he’s got to be interested in the nuts and bolts of your sport and be actively trying to learn more about it. He’s the powerlifter who subscribes to all the mags and trawls the net every night for training morsels. He’s the kickboxer with more downloaded fights on his hard drive than porn (or at least an equal amount). A person like this has a inquiring mind, attuned to continual improvement–which can only benefit both of you.

Observant

Have you ever trained with someone who just goes through the motions? Their body’s there, but their mind’s a million miles away? If a training partner isn’t really ‘present‘ during a training session, who’s going to spot the holes in your game? If you’re not getting any feedback you may as well be training by yourself. A training partner doesn’t need to be a hard-core expert, but they do have to be attentive when you train together.
So what’s the bottom line on training partners? Become a mad keen, well informed, and observant athlete. Seek out those with similar attributes, and treat their development as highly as your own. Both of you will enjoy your training a lot more and also become better athletes in the process.

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