the art of subtraction [or how to Coach like Michelangelo]



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You know the one big secret that all great coaches learn as they progress through their careers?  

It’s the power of less.

Less exercises.  Less volume.  Less instruction.  Less everything.  

Today, we’ll talk about how Michelangelo might have coached, and why you should coach this way too!   

The Latin root of the word ‘decision’ – cis or cid – literally means “to cut” or “to kill”, writes Greg McKeown, in his excellent book – Essentialism

As Coaches, we are always undergoing a process of decision-making. 

Decision-making forms a significant element of effective coaching. We make decisions all the time – ranging from what cue to use, what exercise to implement, what to include … and what to cut out. 

Through this process of filtration and elimination, we end up with a final edit that represents our educated ’best guess’ – or hypothesis – for how we can most-effectively achieve a desired goal, or outcome. 

Too often, however, our decision-making becomes clouded by too much choice.

We have seen well-meaning coaches take a ‘scatter-gun’ approach to programming – unable to cut out the ‘nice to have’ or ‘just in case’ exercises; the program jammed with elements that aren’t essential to achieving the outcome goal. 

And if they’re not essential, why are they there?. 

But it’s hard isn’t it?

Cutting out good options is terrifying. 

But we can’t do everything, all the time – so we have to make choices!

We should always frame this choice-making process by asking ourselves the question: 

“does this actively add to achieving the outcome-goal of this session, or is it clouding it?” 

We must think as Michelangelo would – as an essentialist.

It takes discipline to take this approach, but by using deliberate subtraction to eliminate your non-essentials, you’ll reveal your athletic masterpiece. 


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