Developing Coaches: Part One

developing coaches

In Samantha Orme’s view, a great Coach is able to give each athlete an individualized experience.

“A great Coach gives each individual athlete an optimal training experience, taking into account mobility challenges, and strength and skill level. That leads to faster improvement in performance, and less likelihood of injury,” said Orme, the owner of CrossFit Virtuosity in Brooklyn, New York. “I’ve heard class with Coach Glassman described this way: Each person in the class somehow feels as though the Coach particularly noticed them and gave them something to work on. That’s great coaching, and it’s really not an easy thing to provide. It requires a deep knowledge of movement, a great coaching eye, a huge library of cues, fixes, drills, etc. to draw upon, as well as a well-developed coaching persona and highly evolved communication skills.”

But just because you or your staff might have reached the point of being able to adapt to your clients, that doesn’t mean you’re a master Coach. “We are all in development, all the time, so ‘master’ seems like an endpoint that doesn’t exist to me,” said Zach Forrest, the owner of Max Effort Fitness in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Constant development requires seeking out education, as well as providing it inside your four walls. Orme shared Virtuosity has a development program in-house that allows trainee Coaches to shadow the gym’s lead Coaches. She explained it also provides them a chance to progressively coach as experience is gained and feedback is applied.

But, it goes beyond just shadowing and in-house training at Virtuosity. “Trainees also complete reading and written assignments that prepare them for CrossFit Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 Trainer Courses. Our full-time Coaches receive an annual stipend for continuing education that they can use to attend outside certs and seminars — we encourage them to do that as much as possible,” shared Orme.

At Max Effort, Coaches are given constant feedback on their class performance, with formal class evaluations happening every quarter. Annual goals drive continuing education choices, as well as a focus on shoring up weaknesses. “Just like your physical fitness, you have more to gain by focusing on developing your weakness than always playing to your strengths,” said Forrest.

And when it comes to what the industry of coaching needs to work on as a whole, Forrest was clear: “Seeing movement and correcting movement,” he said. “As I coach Level 2 courses, I see an overwhelming majority of people still have a hard time discerning good from poor movement and then being able to come up with effective corrective strategies.”

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at