Tim Caron has forged a reputation of being one of the most forward-thinking and visionary coaches in the business. After stints as a strength and conditioning coach at Army’s West Point Academy – where he helped Army beat arch rivals Navy for the first time in 15 years – and USC, where the Trojans posted a 10-2 regular season record that gave them the #1 spot in the rankings, he co-founded Allegiate. The Redondo Beach-based gym soon became one of the premier training facilities in Southern California.
“T-Bone,” as he’s affectionately known by his athletes, kindly took some time to sit down with us about the finer points of the coaching craft. What follows below will show you why we’re honored to add Tim to our roster of Performance Engineers.
Don't miss our Instagram takeover with Tim, tomorrow 2/21, where he'll run a Q&A on @livemomentous all day.
What is it about the coaching craft that appeals to you?
I think it's the number one way we can make positive interventions for a long period of time. We look at sustainable models that actually can make an impact on the person before it gets to whatever the problem set is, like fatigue or injury. We go through some strategies to help people move better, feel better, and take better care of their bodies. Sometimes it's psychological, sometimes it’s physiological, but the end goal is to make someone more resilient and more capable. We hope to provide a springboard for them to become their own best practitioner and administrator of health so they take more responsibility for their own path.
If you could have every athlete who works with you learn just one lesson, what would that be?
You're responsible for your own outcome when you come to me. I'm going to compile a strategy on how to train you and what to do with you. But everything that happens from then on is largely up to you. I'm only going to be working with you one to two hours a day. To make the most of this, you need to direct your focus and attention on the task at hand. Then it’s up to you how you use the other 22 hours in the day.
“High-growth environments are always centered on tight-knit communities that are self-reliant.”
What did you learn about the art of coaching at Army?
One of the biggest things we talked about at Army was creating leaders. This forced me to do an inventory of myself and ask, “How many times do I actually put our athletes in position to do that?” And after doing a really deep, hard analysis of that I realized that we weren’t doing it enough. We prescribed everything, we dictated everything, we counted reps. We punished them when they did something wrong, and didn’t ever give them an opportunity to actually be leaders within their subgroups.
That kind of realization is a hard hit to the ego. I had to ask whether I wanted to control everything. Did I just want to feel needed as a coach? Or could I accept that it’s a limitation when our guys aren’t in a position to lead themselves? When we were playing a better team, they needed to be able to think for themselves, adapt, problem-solve, be brutally honest, and find a way to win. If not, we weren’t going to come close to the best version of ourselves or our team. Sometimes as a coach you have to say, “I need to shut up, take a step back, and encourage these players to take the lead.”
How did that experience at Army differ from your coaching stint at USC?
USC was a great logistical challenge. They have almost unlimited resources, which is great in some ways, but also means there are a lot more moving parts than at a smaller program or school. There were dozens of athletic trainers, coaches, assistant coaches, nutritionists, and just about every kind of specialist you can imagine. This meant the players had access to all this expertise, but also necessitated a lot of management. One thing I learned was that because the logistical side was so complex, I couldn’t do everything. This meant getting comfortable with giving others some responsibilities, and resisting the temptation to micro-manage them. Even if you like to do something, that doesn’t mean you have any business doing it. Your time will probably be better spent elsewhere, doing the things you’re best at. Again, you have to detach your ego.
This experience put me in a way better spot to now manage my small business. For a while when you’re starting out as an entrepreneur you have to do everything. But when you get more money coming in, you start to figure out which coaches could do this or that for you, and what you should outsource so you can concentrate on your craft and higher value tasks. The same thing was true at Army – I delegated several tasks that someone else not only did better, but also with more enthusiasm.
Who are a couple of mentors who’ve helped you further your coaching craft?
Mike Boyle and Charles Poliquin. They’re the pinnacle of our profession. Not just from the perspective of actual coaching, but also the bigger picture stuff, like how to organize and structure everything. And also the mindset perspective. Mike particularly pushes people to not settle for “I can do this well,” but believe “I can do this differently” and then to go actually make it happen. One of the biggest takeaways from Mike is that you can never settle for where you are. You need to always be willing to learn, develop, and grow. It’s that Carol Dweck Growth Mindset mentality.
Charles had some very strong opinions that endeared him to some people and alienated others, but he could always back up what he was saying with evidence and expertise. He also made coaches more confident in selling the true value of what we have to offer. If I could be the best version of both these guys, that would be amazing.
At Allegiate you seem to have the Jerry Maguire approach of less clients, more attention. Why is that central to your philosophy?
It’s definitely one of the core principles of our business plan. You see people open these huge, 10,000-square-foot facilities and then not be able to get enough people in the doors to sustain their company. Or they start making compromises to their philosophy to get as many clients as possible, and quality goes out the window. Then there are those that end up with indoor soccer pitches or batting cages because they overreached on floor space and they need to do something else to pay the bills.
We opened a smaller facility so that we’d have lower overhead. This allows us to concentrate on building relationships with each and every one of our athletes. It’s one of the few places they go where they’re always greeted by name, and they know our names, too. That might seem like a small thing, but it’s too easy to become lost in the crowd these days. People want to be known and cared about. And we can give them that because our member base is manageable. We want to provide high-end service and keep people coming back because if you can work with a client for five or 10 years, you can promote so much more positive change in their life than someone who just comes a couple of times and then you never see again. The research conducted by Dr. Mark Hyman at Mayo Clinic – who assesses group-based health programs, churches, and other groups – shows that high-growth environments are always centered on tight-knit communities that are self-reliant. That’s what we’re aiming for at Allegiate.