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FIND YOUR PASSION: Coach Tim Swords Team-USA. Weightlifting

SEASON 2: THE COACHES

Some people are born to be coaches. Tim Swords, a Strength and Conditioning coach for USA Weightlifting and the founder of Team Houston has been coach for over 30 years officially, but his early days of coaching can be traced back to his small workout area in his parents’ basement in West Virginia. It was there that he found a passion for strength and weight training and, since then, he has never stopped learning and evolving.


In this week’s interview, Coach Swords and I sit down and discuss how picking up a magazine at age 12 led to his interest in weightlifting and how his brothers and father played a large role in his athletic childhood. We talk about how two College Football Hall of Fame coaches (Bear Bryant and Pat Dye) shaped his youth as a football player but also as a man.

He has trained Olympic medalists and has coached and helped over 200 weightlifters reach national championships, while guiding 58 to a title. But he still believes it all boils down to a dedication of being “a teacher” as a coach and helping his athletes find their passion. We’ll discuss how a trip to see Navy Seals train helped him find his coaching style, what the downfalls of over-coaching are, what kind of culture he has in his gym, and how there’s a romantic side of coaching. He tells some great stories, including how to avoid a Chechnyan jail.

This week’s conversation is a must-listen for anybody, as we discuss how discovering your passion is a key to life.

LESSONS FOR LEADERS 1) Nurture passion rather than extinguish it. It’s important to let your kids (or employees) follow their passion. 2) Coaches’ words have so much power. 3) Everybody teaches. Help people go beyond what they think they can do.

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Tim Swords Career Accomplishments

  • Founder of Team Houston, a non-profit organization that implements youth programs designed around Amateur Olympic Weightlifting

  • Helped lead over 200 weightlifters to national championships and coached 58 national champions

  • Strength & conditioning coach for USA Weightlifting

  • Strength and conditioning coach at East Carolina after lettering in football there

  • Played in the USFL for Washington Federals


Key Conversation Takeaways

  • 2:49: How he got started in weightlifting

  • 5:29: Who his mentors in college were

  • 8:03: What kind of coaching style that worked for his mentors

  • 11:00: The moment Bear Bryant changed his life

  • 19:03: How a trip to see Navy seals gave him clarity

  • 22:15: How he got into coaching weightlifting

  • 29:13: Best ways to not overcoach

  • 30:33: The “Greatest thing to happen to US Weightlifting”

  • 32:43: What you can achieve by reaching a rapport with your athletes as a coach

  • 33:33: The romantic side of coaching

  • 36:38: His style of coaching

  • 42:18: How he sets culture and expectations in the gym

  • 45:43: What he set out to accomplish when he started in the garage

  • 48:45: How he has changed as a coach over the years

  • 57:38: The dedication it takes to learn


Notable Quotes

  • 5:29: (talking about Pat Dye) “He helped us as young men become a family and helped us believe in ourselves.”

  • 8:03: (talking about Jeff Johnson) “He was a very calm guy, unlike me. I’m not a calm person. I’m aggressive. I’m intense. I’m very passionate”

  • 12:47: “Bear Bryant said, ‘Son you must have passion for what you do.’”

  • 13:03: “I do my best. I want to be a member of the team. I work hard. I want to be a contributor. I want to lead by example.”

  • 13:20: “It’s always good to find your passion in life. You’re passionate about football and passionate about weight training. Your life will never be fulfilled until you find your passion.”

  • 19:18: “I’ve been blessed to have opportunities to do things other people kind of dream about.”

  • 24:21: “I found at that time that the mentoring of these young people was something that I really, really wanted to do.”

  • 26:03: “Nothing makes me feel better than to see a kid accomplish even a minor victory.”

  • 26:45: “You have to have a positive attitude about who you are.”

  • 30:33: “Can you give me, yourself and the United States the best eight seconds of your life now? Can you do that for yourself and the United States of America? Can you give me that?”

  • 33:40: “That’s the romantic side of coaching that has to be there at all times. You have to grind. You have to push. You have to twist. You have to strategize. You have to go all that. But somewhere in all that, love has to be present. Trust has to be present. That back and forth has to be present because in that moment, you needed more than just her skill. You needed to tap into all of her.”

  • 38:51: (Tells kids) “This is not for me. This is for you to get better.”

  • 46:33: “It started by saying ‘What can I do to help the youth in the community?’ and turned into a place where, over the last 32 years, we’ve taken over 200 people to national championships and have 58 national champions. If my name is associated with something, I’m going to do it right. I have pride and I’m not gonna cruise.”

  • 50:54: “I’m gonna do what we need to do to get on that platform. I put in the time. I put in the effort.”

  • 57:23: “I hope that anything I said can help with anyone as they try to get better at their job….I’m always learning. I learned from this conversation.”

  • 59:23: “It’s not about the dollar. It’s about helping people get better.”

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2019 YOUR CORNER MAN