I believe writing to be one of the most important skills anyone can possess, especially writing in strength and conditioning. Coincidentally, I wouldn’t have this website if I didn’t think this way. Everything in education stems from writing. You wouldn’t be able to learn new information if people before your time were not able to record their knowledge. You would not be able to communicate effectively, if not for being able to learn a larger vocabulary in order to describe your experiences. Video content, including presentations, would not have the highest impact on our learning if not first being written in order for the host or presenter to practice the “live” deliverance of material. The list goes on…
I’ve written on this topic previously, but I feel that a separate post on the progression of writing is warranted. Below is what I’ve witnessed as the needed progression for writing in our profession.
Writing in High School
This is where we see the development of writing skills really escalate. At least for me, I never really enjoyed writing until I got into high school. To learn the structure of a sentence and paragraph and then put it all together became very intriguing to me. As the later years of high school came and we began to write papers, I could see the importance of writing coherent work that could be easily understood by the reader.
Writing in College
In college we see this same process, but at a slightly higher level. Now, the structure of learning is over and the real “fun” begins. Research papers become the focus and the topics become varied. Synthesis of materials becomes a high priority. How can you relate ‘X’ and ‘Y’ to make sense and support your theory? Even though I enjoyed writing, I always hated when topics were assigned to us. I always wanted to write on issues I liked. I get it now, if you can write well on issues you don’t care about, you can write well on anything, especially those topics on which you’re truly passionate. This also makes sense why we had to take these “normal English” courses; though, at the time, I just wanted to get to my exercise science courses to learn and write on those topics.
Now, moving into the later years of college, you get into those exercise science courses. With the writing skills you’ve learned, you can now begin to convey your learning and thoughts into research papers on topics you enjoy. This practice will begin to prepare you for the profession (at least in terms of beginning to be able to research and write on relatable topics). Of course, if you attend(ed) graduate school, this prepares you even more.
Your Job Search
Once college is over, it’s time to search and apply for jobs. If you’re writing skills are developed and you understand your way around resumes, you’ll do well in constructing a solid resume. Mostly because you understand the importance that each individual word can have, but also in the structure of sentences and what is required for each job to which you are applying.
Having said that, possibly more important in the requirement of writing skills than the resume is the cover letter. It is in the cover letter where your writing skills can shine. If you can display your expertise, experience, AND intelligence within the cover letter, this sets you up nicely for a possible interview or, at the very least, for that potential employer to actually flip to your resume. It is extremely upsetting, to say the least, when looking over a cover letter and seeing sloppy sentences that don’t make any sense. However, possibly worse than that is when easy words are misspelled; that’s irritating.
Supervising a Younger Generation of…Writers
One of my tasks I take very seriously is supervising my interns each semester. I’m trying to pass on everything I have learned and, hopefully, set them up to become better coaches than me. This is my way of ensuring that those young coaches I come in contact with can increase the quality of the profession as they progress in their careers.
One of the ways I do this is making sure that their writing skills are improved by the time they leave me. I have several writing assignments that I give them to complete. Once completed, I edit them (maybe several times) to help improve not only their writing, but their critical thinking and analysis skills as well. This helps them to think of different ways in which to examine and explain the topics on which they’re writing.
Writing Recommendation Letters
As we develop and advance in our career to become full-time professionals, we may be asked to write recommendation letters for past employees (interns, GAs, assistants, etc.) or athletes. This is extremely important, as the person potentially hiring them, or accepting them into a program, may be thorough in their examination of your letter. In other words, your former employee or athlete trying to get that position, whatever it may be, is relying on your writing to be coherent and concise enough to convey the great job they did for you. No pressure 😉
And the Rest…
And the list goes on…there will always be tasks, projects, etc. that require writing skills; some menial, some more advanced. Writing has to be taken more seriously in our profession. Just think, you may have a deal in the future where a publisher asks you to write a book but, if you haven’t worked on your writing skills and they see a horrible rough draft, they may drop the deal.
I’m not saying I’m a genius with this stuff, but I think this is very important and, more often than not, overlooked by most coaches. Again, let’s start to make this a priority along with the exercise science we all need to know.
Have any thoughts? Please share below in the comments section.