Had two interesting events that coincided to illustrate a valuable point.
I've been prepping for the StrongFirst Barbell Instructor Certification (SFL) for a few months now, following a program given to me by Mike Perry. I was following the program to a T, and making decent progress...until my bench press just flat-lined. Not only could I not complete the workout the program called for, I couldn't even come close.
So I emailed Mike (in a slight panic), and we met, cleaned some stuff up, and changed my program. Lo and behold, my bench press started going back up, and is now progressing rather nicely.
A student of mine came to me and told me that his bench had stalled out. When I asked him if he had been following the plan I gave him, his answer was "yeah...sort of..." It turns out that where the plan called for him to alternate between four different rep schemes, he had just been doing the same one over and over again.
He didn't follow the plan, and wasn't getting results.
What's the lesson? If your coach gives you a plan...follow the plan. If you follow it and it doesn't work, then you can reassess why it didn't work. If you follow it and it works, great. But if you don't follow it, then you have no way of knowing how well the plan worked.
The corollary to this: if you have gone to someone for coaching, you ought to trust and respect them enough to follow whatever plans they give you. If you don't want to follow someone else's advice, why are you seeking it out?
[Note: This applies to martial arts, self-defense, and combat sport just as much. While "the plan" in fighting is rarely as concrete as "do five sets of five reps", there is a plan to the order and structure of training, and there certainly can be a plan in competition. If you don't want to follow it...you won't get far.]
Follow the plan.