Coaching in CrossFit is a very odd job when you think of it.
I always like to tell people, “I teach people how to squat” when I’m asked what I do for a living.
In reality, a coach is more than a teacher or instructor (otherwise we would just call them that). A coach is someone who is meant to help guide, educate, inspire, and push you in the direction you want to go with the tools you need to make your changes life long.
This makes the role a split job: you have to know what you are teaching to a level that you can get your grandmother who speaks another language to move safely and you have to be able to apply this knowledge to each unique person you interact with each day.
This is the duality of a Vegvisir Coach and in a week where we are learning how to be a coach, I feel like this is more crucial than any special squat we learned from any guru.
B Side: Know Your Stuff (Human Movement)
This is the side of Coaching that we all assume is the job! The part where you go read articles, watch movement videos, and take CrossFit Seminars to know exactly what you’re teaching!
A good coach should be able to do these 4 things: See, Know, Correct, and Demonstrate.
Seeing is the act of being able to watch an athlete move and see the faults and/or bright spots that an athlete has in their movements.
Example: “Your Knees Are Caving In” – Your Favorite Coach!
Knowing is being able to interpret what you see and being able to decipher the athlete’s movement into knowing what is wrong.
Example: “Geoff’s knees are caving in due to the fact that he’s sitting back to far in an effort to use his dominant hamstrings”
Correcting (or cueing) would be the actual call and response part of coaching! We correct athletes by using verbal, visual, and tactile commands to change their motion so that we create a safer and more efficient pattern in the athlete! We may not know the right cue off the bat, but creating a stable of different cues to pull from and knowing how the athlete learns will greatly improve the efficacy of this trait!
Verbal: “On this next rep I want you to push your knee’s out!”
Visual: “Hey Geoff! You’re doing this…” *shows an exaggerated knee cave in squat* “I want you to do this!” *shows exaggerated pushing out of knees in squat*
Tactile: “Geoff, I’m gonna give you this band and I want you to put it around your knees. Keep the band tight the entire time that you squat. Ready…go!”
Demonstrating is our ability to correctly show a movement by being the “good example!” This can be accomplished by knowing your class and using athletes who move well to show the movement OR showing the movement yourself the way you would want your athletes to move!
Example: “Alright class! Today we are going to be doing the split jerk!” *Shows the movement from the front* “I want us to really focus on using our bodies to launch the bar and BENDING THAT BACK KNEE” *Shows the movement turned 90 degrees from the original demo and shows how to do that skill*
A Side: Knowing Your People
While Side 1 can be taught, Side 2 is usually an innate skill.
To be a coach you have to care about people and you have to care even more about your athletes.
Humans are complex. We have goals, dreams, pride, bad days, good days, the asshole mike who keeps stealing your sandwich from the company fridge, awesome spouses, dogs, cats, and everything else that goes on in our lives.
The athletes we interact with every day are going through a whole different combination of life’s cocktail and have 23 hours each day where they aren’t in our care.
What makes a coach special is that great coaches take all that knowledge and apply it to each individual they train that day.
Instead of focusing on bending you to the days workout and making you push as hard as you can every time, they start each day by asking you “Hey Bianca! How are you doing today?”
That coach will then tailor their approach to that athlete based off their response as well as taking into account their goals.
A great coach listens to you if you have pain (emotionally, mentally, and/or physically) and does their best to keep you moving safely towards your goal; even if moving forward is staying still, going backwards, or taking a step sideways for some time.
The Whole Enchilada
What about the best coaches?
The best coaches are always trying to improve at both sides of their job.
They want to be better mentors to their athletes by finding new tricks to engage your lats in a pull-up and progressions to get that first handstand walk.
They also want to make sure they do everything in their power to support your dreams outside of the gym, after all we just have 1 hour with you.
The best coaches make you feel like you’re Norm from Cheers when you walk in the door, get “your favorite team won the Super Bowl” levels of excited when you pass a big test or get that promotion, and they can be that person you can always trust to be there for ya to give you the best hour of your day.
Where do I think the best coaches reside?
Obviously, I think they are right here at Vegvisir (but, I may be a little biased (; )
But, even if we may not be, being on this team means that the coach you see in class is trying their hardest to be the best coach they can be for you every day.
To get involved and talk with a coach today, click the link found HERE to schedule your No Sweat Intro