Hand Armor Highlight: Smarter Team Training –Coach Rob Taylor

Since the beginning of SMARTER Team Training, what are some highlighted moments or milestones that come to mind that you have achieved with your business?

"Several of the big moments that I really never thought people would find interesting at first I have shared on http://smarterteamtraining.com/smarter-team-training-story/. It really does boil down to valuing relationships, doing what is right, being consistent, and helping others achieve greatness. In the field of strength and conditioning, you must put the goals of the people you work with in front of your own. You will work long hours, have sleepless nights, but those few glimmering seconds of “championship experiences” are worth it beyond words. You will forget the sounds of the crowds, maybe even the details of how the game went, but you never forget the smiles, laughs, and bonds that occur from working hard and achieving excellence.

Our goal is to inspire greatness in one new person each day.

As far as true “milestones,” I don’t think I ever even look at it that way. Our goal is to inspire greatness in one new person each day. Therefore, today can be it’s own milestone if that is how we are evaluating the expectation of right now. We assess what we have done in the past to make this moment in the training cycle, and in life, the best it can be. Without question, we work hard to be present in the moment, emphasizing the value of every quality rep needed to elicit physical adaptation, and try not to get enamored by fads, gurus, or bro-science. The future will then take care of itself if we control our controllables and execute as a business, coach, team, and players."

You have several of certifications: SCCC, CSCS, CCS, PES, CES, CSES, NSCA-CPT, NSPA-CPT, don't feel like you need elaborate on each one individually, but which certifications have played a bigger role in your career and how so?

"To be honest, absolutely none of them. They all have flaws, but at the same time they all bring up interesting topics for discussion. The fact that I have more letters behind my name than in my name, and that I haven’t found too many in the field that have more certifications than I do, only strengthens my realization that you can learn from anything and everyone. Regardless of whom you work with, the level you work at, the resources you may have access to, the support from coaches or administration, budget, etc. everyone can show you what has worked for them and their lessons learned along the way. Maybe what the process of attaining these certifications has taught me is that everyone is entitled to think they know how to reach the desired end goal, but very few really have a clue. The human body is a complicated system. Training stimulus and results may never be able to be replicated, hence why there are very few replication studies in research with human subjects.

What I have learned by going through the process of traditional institutional education, plus the certification process, is that there are HUGE areas that are missing as we are developed as professionals in the field. How many pages are spent on particular exercises, but then other areas of the body where severe injuries can occur are neglected? Anything on psychology, marketing, or business is left out intentionally? I have met fantastic strength coaches, personal trainers, etc. that are struggling because they haven’t been groomed as a business person, they have no clue how to market themselves, nor any understanding about the mental game from an athlete, client, or staffing perspective. On the other hand, there are terrible people in our field that can market themselves well, and have clients that embrace them, which leads to an intense emotional connection regardless of a lacking skill set. It is an interesting dynamic in our field from the practitioner to the client side of the experience.

My recommendation is to learn and learn often.

My recommendation is to learn and learn often. Learn from everyone and question everything. Use what works for you, and what helps the people you are working with achieve their desired goal. If you are not well versed in the path it takes to achieve this goal, learn more, ask to shadow or collaborate with others, and let go of your ego. Be exceptional at what you are good at. You have my permission to be different. Perfection is never attained, but it is a whole lot of fun to attempt to chase on a daily basis."

On a recent episode on STTPodcast.com, you mentioned that you have traveled the world to speak to individuals and teams in the Strength and Conditioning field. Where have you traveled? What international teams have you worked with? Do you have any international traveling coming up in the near future?

The real story exists in the genuine people that I was honored to be around during these experiences.

"I was fortunate to work with an absolutely incredible group of ladies from Australia for quite some time. Lacrosse was what brought us together, but in life I find that more often than not great people find one another. During my time at Loyola College in Maryland (now Loyola University Maryland), I had the privilege to work with several players on the Australian World Cup team. There happened to be quite a few in the Baltimore, MD area also. To keep this short, during the 2005 World Cup campaign I helped prepare many of what became World Cup Champions and many All-World players that were here in the United States of America. Then for the 2009 World Cup campaign I was involved in all aspects of the physical preparation that started nearly three and a half years before those awesome weeks in Prague. I could tell you stories about my travels during that experience to Australia, which I have now been to I think 11 times, New Zealand, China, Japan, and many countries in Europe. But the story isn’t in the destination, the real story exists in the genuine people that I was honored to be around during these experiences.

I have had the opportunity to present in all of the countries mentioned above, and to this day make occasional trips to England, Italy, and Europe in general to consult. Recently I have been fortunate that more and more of these opportunities have lead people from these locations around the world to come to Baltimore, Maryland and learn from my staff and me with our in-house mentorship programs. Throw in radio interviews around the world on many different podcasts, or traditional radio, and it is incredible to think of the amount of impact any of our messages can have on the lives of others."

You work with individuals and teams from youth to professional athletes– Is STT primarily involved in offseason training with teams and athletes or are you involved with teams year round? Any examples would be great!

"I, one hundred percent, believe that you need to be your strongest when the competition level is at the peak. Therefore, we train during the season. We promote a year round training approach, but realize that we may only have athletes for segments of that. So we program accordingly and educate along the way. It saddens me to see young athletes specializing in one sport and not participating in anything that prepares the body for the rigors of the game. Not to mention the athletic development that occurs from playing multiple sports, the leadership qualities, and the life lessons that can be learned from playing sports in general. With our youth program that does play multiple sports, we provide an opportunity to train 1-2 times per week. For athletes not participating in a sport, but going to a practice or working with a skills coach, we encourage two days a week. And the rare times of year that there are no sports on a young athletes weekly schedule, we may ask them to train three days a week.

Valuing the benefits of mental and physical recovery has also been huge for us. You will commonly hear our players mock us about the importance of “Eat. Hydrate. Sleep. And remove negative stress from your lives.” I have learned a long time ago, and it was a tough lesson for me to learn, that when your athletes begin to mock you, that is when they are finally starting to actually hear your message. Embrace it with a smile."

SMARTER Team Training host professional development clinics that you share quick clips of on your social media outlets. How important is networking and learning from others to you? What do you know now? And what do you wish you knew when you got started in the industry?

"It has been important for me since starting STT that education be a driving force in the business, the Internet presence, and the experience our clients, players, and coaches have while working with us. Hosting our annual conference in July each year is always a fun way to bring the best in the industry to our facility to learn, share, and network with. We post the line-ups and itinerary on STTEvents.com. With the growing demand for the content, programming, and approach we use to implement, manage, and inspire, we had to create regional clinics also. As interest grows, so do opportunities to host our events at locations around the country. We welcome collaborating with individuals, gym owners, and the like to provide professional development curriculum at as many locations across the country as we can fit into the schedule. Learning more about what SMARTER Team Training clinics and the conference look like, I would suggest going to SMARTERTeamTraining.com first, and then connecting on social media too. We are constantly sharing on Instagram (@smarterteamtraining), Facebook (fb.com/smarterteamtraining), Twitter (@smarterteam), YouTube (youtube.com/smarterteamtraining), and recently been posting on Snapchat (sttperformance) more consistently."

We would to love know why you chose Hand Armor over other chalk products available on the market?

"I have never been a “chalk guy.” Our clients don’t use it on the field, court, track, or in the pool. “So, why use it when we train?” was always my predictable response. I am a big fan of strengthening your hands and forearms. We didn’t have people slipping off of lifts. No one complained about “if we only had chalk”. We created an environment and our clients/athletes adapted. Plus, the mess always irritated me. I am a clean freak many would say. We have all custom training equipment and I like it looking sharp. The time spent near the chalk bowl always had me on fire in environments that offered chalk. Lift up a piece of equipment at the gym you train at and see if there is chalk under there. Yes, even ask to see under the platforms too. And all I saw were sweaty people putting their hands in the same place. If there is no pride taken in the cleanliness of the facility, how do you know they are taking pride in their equipment, safety, health, or programming? All things matter, and the little things can become big problems when we overlook them.

The chalk was where it was supposed to be – ON YOUR PALMS.

Understanding the goal of what chalk provides did obviously make me look into other options. For a LONG time, I had no solutions that we enjoyed. Friends connected me with Tony Maddalone from Hand Armor Liquid Chalk, and we talked for quite some time about the product. I was hesitant and a skeptic at first. “You really just squirt it on your hands and chalk stays there? Right, Tony. Yep, I am still on the phone. And it is antiseptic? It washes off everything from hands, to equipment, to flooring if a drip hits the floor? Ok, Tony. Are you the salesman or the owner?” was our first part of our first phone conversation. To that Tony replied, “Both!” As he began to tell me his story about being a strength coach at Utah, and his illness that may have come from the weight room and training environment, I could hear his passion on the phone. I was hooked. We had to try this out. Ultimately a bottle made it to the desk in my office. In seconds my entire staff had white hands chalked up and ready to go. There was no mess on the floor or on my desk. And the chalk was where it was supposed to be – ON YOUR PALMS! So, there is still not one block of chalk in our facility, but you will find two Hand Armor dispensers, one on each end of the dumbbell rack. Any time we are using a barbell in the racks, or grabbing dumbbells, you will see people getting a quick squirt from the bottles and begin attacking the training session. Hand Armor Liquid Chalk has been an excellent addition to our custom training environment."

A huge thanks to Coach Rob Taylor for taking the time to speak with us. 

For more information about Coach Rob Taylor and STT, please their website here.