by Don Heatrick

Coaches are often asked for help, and frequently give it. But despite this, sometimes the results are less than desirable (for both parties).

In my experience, the result depends where the fighter sits on a “self-determination continuum”.

There’s a balance of commitment between the coach and the fighter, and if this tips the wrong way, everything falls over.

I recently had a message from a coach, sharing with me an instagram post of a fighter thanking an S&C coach for their preparation for an upcoming fight…

Then he commented, “I assumed you were doing his S&C?”

This regarded a fighter I’d previously sponsored and helped in the past, so the confusion was understandable.

The truth is, I couldn’t help this fighter…

At the time, he simply was’t committed to his strength and conditioning training.

It was something he thought he ought to do, rather than something he believed in and wanted to do.

As a result, the training program wasn’t carried out as it should be.

And just like a diet you cheat on, it won’t yield the desired results.

Some fighters need yelling at all the way through their training sessions – they constantly need a “cheerleader” in their ear, or they stop!

They respond to the stick.

Or the promise of a title, or praise from their supporters and coaches. That’s the carrot.

Others are far more self-determined, and just need to understand what they need to do, and they do it!

They thrive on a fire within.

Different personalities, different requirements.

They’re at different stages of behaviour on a self-determination continuum, and need a different training solution.

Ideally, a more self-determined, intrinsically motivated approach should be aimed for.

Interestingly, in my experience most Thais are not self-determined.

The majority just want to get through the “working day” and need a LOT of daily motivation from coaches.

Whereas western Thai boxers tend to be far more self-determined.


I’m often asked about online training and coaching…

It works for those that are generally more  self-determined

Those that have the desire to use strength and conditioning to exploit their true potential and give them the edge over their opponents.

If that’s not where you’re at, online training isn’t for you…

You’d be better to get an in-person trainer to motivate you.

– You need to book a session at a certain time to make sure you show up.

– It’s too easy to ignore an email from your online coach, and fail to book a video coaching call.

– You need to be cajoled to hit your target reps, sets and training intensity.

– It’s too easy to take the program you’ve been given, and not push to meet what’s been laid out for you.

– You need help being responsible for your training.

But those that are good at taking responsibility for their own training…

And even relish the opportunity for personal growth that comes from learning how to do Muay Thai strength and conditioning, as well as what to do and when…

Then online training is really effective.

Know yourself before you embark on any training program – honestly, what works for you?

Are you self-determined or not – do you rely predominantly on the stick or the carrot, or a fire within?

Even the best program in the world, if not acted on, is not as effective as a poor program that is adhered to.

You and your needs change over time.

Know what your real goals are, and choose an approach (based on honest reflection) that suits you best right now – get the help you need and commit to it.

Coaches are ready to serve you, but ultimately (just like in a fight), it’s down to you.

Don Heatrick

Founder of Heatrick Strength and Conditioning

Don Heatrick is a family man from the UK, former mechanical design engineer, European Muay Thai silver medallist, former pro Thai boxer (ranked 4th in UK while aged 40-years), a Muay Thai coach, podcast host, and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.

Don helps ambitious fighters and coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.

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