Coaching Matters

Coaching matters!As a Box owner, we spend countless hours perfecting the programming for our Box. We use spreadsheets to assure that we are keeping the programming varied, fun and challenging. There is so much thought and effort that goes into effective programming. Often times, the workouts and effort spent go unnoticed. We put so much emphasis on the workouts themselves that other parts of the business are underdeveloped. Every Box has its own ideal programming model. Whether you believe in quick Metcons or long grueling WODs, one component must hold true … coaching!

Coaching extends far beyond writing the WOD on the board and disseminating that information to the class. The white board discussion at the beginning of class has immense value and opportunity. Most Boxes miss this teachable moment. The explanation of class is more than reciting what is already written on the board. It is the information that lies in between the lines that is often missed, uncalculated and/or not highlighted. Coaches need to spend this time guiding athletes on decisions that they are about to make. Every WOD should have a goal. Do your Coaches understand the goal of the WOD? And are they breaking down that goal to the class?

For a large population, your explanation of the WOD controls whether or not your athletes finish, whether or not they RX, whether they scale movements, and whether they feel accomplished after the WOD. Are your athletes experiencing the intended stimulus of every workout? Your athletes need to see the WOD through your eyes. The only way this can happen is thorough guidance.

The average athlete after looking at the whiteboard alone is going to use the same modification on a pistol whether the workout calls for 100 of them or 10 of them. Any decent Coach is going to have to understand how to explain which modification will serve an individual best on a 100-pistol day versus a 10-pistol day because there is a difference and, thus, an opportunity. This is just one small piece to the whole puzzle. We still have to explain the goal of the entire WOD, how to manipulate elements of the WOD to achieve said goal, when to upward or downward scale, how to know what weight to use, and the like. The three-minute breakdown of the WOD will lead to 57 minutes of clear guidance and expectations.

Once the WOD begins, the coaching is certainly not over. You can have the best explanation and breakdown in the world, but there will be athletes that perform on the extreme ends of your expectations. Athletes need to be constantly reminded on how to manage their rest, keep pace and take pride in their movement patterns, all while keeping their eyes on the clock. While you are coaching, keep record of how often you are circulating the room and addressing your athletes. Consider what cues you are using: visual, auditory or tactile. Are you staring at your athletes without letting them know whether something is correct or not? Every athlete needs to leave the class with feedback. This feedback can happen during or after the WOD. It does not take much effort to create a list of athletes in class and keep a quick tally of how often you are addressing each athlete. This will most definitely keep you honest.

There are limitless opportunities for your athletes to leave the Box feeling accomplished. On the flip side, there are even more opportunities for your athletes to feel confused or unsure. There is a clear difference when your athlete is frustrated because they did not meet their expectations versus when they are frustrated because they felt confused or disorganized. The latter will have them feeling negative about the Box.

Ben Isabella
In 2009, Ben Isabella received his C.S.C.S from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. As well as being a strength and conditioning specialist, bootcamp instructor, and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, he is a physical education teacher at Sayreville High School. Keep up to date with current fitness and nutrition info by following him on Instagram @Ben_Isabella.
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