Below are my notes of what I found to be the most important points I learned from my CrossFit Level 2 Certification seminar that I attended in Columbus, Ohio over the weekend. I hope all our coaches read and study this and we discuss it at our next coaches meeting in September.
SUMMARY: Good coaches should be continuously striving to do the following every time they coach:
- Be the best part of our client’s day
1.) Positive Presence and Attitude are the most important characteristics for a coach to have and display (DON’T BE NEGATIVE OR BORING);
2.) Be RELENTLESS in the pursuit of high standards for EVERY athlete no matter how advance.
3.) Don’t talk while you are demoing a movement;
4.) Intensity, consistency and good form are the keys to fitness optimization and results;
5.) As coaches we should strive to give EVERY athlete in our class AT LEAST one positive and one corrective piece of feedback and use their names in EVERY class;
6.) Walk the Walk Don’t just Talk the Talk in all facets we are trying to get our athletes to do (i.e., movement, intensity, nutrition, consistency, positive attitude, etc.) Workout in classes with athletes (not while coaching) on a regular basis. Lead by example!
7.) Never stop learning!
The instructors, all of which were awesome, for the seminar were:
Joe Degain, lead instructor, owner of 810 CrossFit in Grand Blanc and Dignified CrossFit in Clarkston. Joe was the captain of the University of Michigan wrestling team and former teacher and has been doing the CrossFit seminars for 10 years and is a judge at the CrossFit Games.
Sarah Mills, She is head coach at Reston and Fairfax CrossFit in Virginia.
Natosha Willhite – Haydock, her and her husband own Counterpart CrossFit in Springfield Missouri.
Matt Chan – was runner up at the CrossFit Games in 2012, has been to the games 7 times and has placed in the top 10 six times! He is a fire fighter and lives and trains at CrossFit Verve in Denver, CO.
Level 4 designation not online yet due to lack of demand. Lots of demand for Level 2.
I.) FOUNDATION OF EFFECTIVE COACHING
- Group Management
- Presence and Attitude
Cues should always be SHORT, SPECIFIC and ACTIONABLE!
Don’t repeat a cue 100 times if it isn’t working! It is up to us as coaches to figure out the cue that works for the athlete!
Most trainers lack a good library of verbal cues. Develop a library of multiple cues for each basic movement fault.
Make sure that you have athletes do the static position of a movement (i.e., not moving, for example set up position of dead lift) correct first before the dynamic ( i.e., moving)
We should demo visually (WITHOUT TALKING) exactly what we want in a movement.
Fix the most important faults first (safety first, performance next)
Only fix one thing at a time and don’t focus on little things until the big things are fixed
ALWAYS ACKNOWLEDGE IMPROVEMENT NO MATTER HOW SMALL!
DON’T TELL AN ATHLETE TO FIX SOMETHING AND THEN WALK AWAY BEFORE YOU SEE IF IT’S FIXED!
DO NOT TALK WHILE DEMONSTRATING A MOVEMENT! DEMO THE ENTIRE MOVEMENT AT FULL SPEED FROM SEVERAL ANGLES BEFORE BREAKING IT DOWN INTO THE LEARNING PROGRESSION. Once you demo the movement take the athletes through a logical progression to learn the movement.
Have athletes demo movements one at a time (preferably in a circle if possible so they can see how you are fixing others). Check on ONE SPECIFIC IMPORTANT point of performance for the movement (e.g., maintaining a good lower (lumbar) spine position in the squat) on EACH ATHLETE before moving on to the next one. Tell them what you are going to be looking for in advance. Correct them if necessary then watch to see if it was BETTER, THE SAME OR WORSE. Do not move on to the next athlete until you have watched the athlete you corrected. You do not need to stand there with the same athlete until they correct it just one rep after. If they have not corrected it tell them what they need to focus on on the next reps. MAKE SURE THE GROUP CAN HEAR WHAT YOUR SPECIFIC CORRECTIONS ARE TO EACH ATHLETE. DON’T JUST MAKE GENERAL FAULT CORRECTIONS TO THE ENTIRE GROUP. See if someone or multiple athletes are doing something incorrect or that could be better and then correct each individual but again SO THE ENTIRE GROUP CAN HEAR AND PREFERABLY SEE YOU. WE SHOULD STRIVE TO MAKE ONE SPECIFIC CORRECTION OR PRAISE PER ATHLETE WHILE WATCHING THEM PERFORM THE WARMUP OF THE MOVEMENT.
YOU CAN ONLY EVALUATE ONE ATHLETE AT A TIME ON ONE POINT OF PERFORMANCE AT A TIME. DON’T TRY TO BE LOOKING AT MULTIPLE ATHLETES AT ONCE. IT DOESN’T WORK!
EVEN OUR BEST ATHLETES CAN IMPROVE SOMETHING. ALWAYS ASK THEM FOR MORE EVEN IF THEY MOVE WELL! This will make them better! As the load and experience of our athletes increases the margin for error is much smaller! Even more important that we stay focused on our experienced athletes and make them better every day.
BE NICE BUT RELENTLESS! DON’T SETTLE FOR SHIT MOVEMENT!
PRESENCE AND ATTITUDE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN PROGRAMMING OR ANYTHING ELSE!
FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT!!
DON’T BE BORING!
One coach would look up tabloid or news stories at the beginning of the day and then ask the clients about them during the warmup. DON’T TAKE A SIDE OR OPINION just ask what they think. PART OF THE PURPOSE OF OUR NEW AND GOOD ROUTINE.
Our members should be talking during the warmups and it should be up to the coach to get them talking if they are not.
Walk the walk in all aspects of how you are trying to inspire people. Do the workouts. Be the best athlete you can. Do the open. Dial in your nutrition and GOOD HABITS. WE NEED TO SET THE EXAMPLE FOR OUR CLIENTS!
II.) COMMON THEMES IN FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENTS
1.) Midline stabilization
- Core strength
- Flexion of spine
- FAULT: Concave to convex
- FAULT: Loss of midline with hyperextension of spine
Many who can do kipping pullups over extend on the kip with their legs. Can do more pullups / muscle ups if you keep everything tight
Don’t overextend on GHD either
2.) Core to Extremity
Example: A baseball throw or a punch
FAULT: pulling early with arms (reason we lose power when rowing also)
FAULT: dipping and driving at the same time in a press
3.) Balance among the frontal plane
– The body has to move in and out of the frontal plane to keep the object staying in the frontal plane
FAULT: Deviation of body
FAULT: Deviation of object
4.) Posterior Chain Engagement
Use butt, hamstrings and spinal erectors
Front muscles = SHOW MUSCLES Back muscles = GO MUSCLES
We are more muscular on our back sides which leads to more athletic movements and power if we use them.
FAULTS: Weight on toes or going to toes to early. Knees collapsing inward
CUE: “Squeeze your belly and butt.”
5.) Sound Hip function
FAULTS: Muted hip
FAULT: Lack of hip extension
FAULT: Lack of velocity of hip
Teach the lowering part of a movement not just the lifting part
On presses, tilting the pelvis upward (i.e., peeing on the ceiling) limits the shear on the spine.
6.) Active Shoulders
This is the most stable position for the shoulder under load
FAULT: Shoulder yields to the load
FAULT: Contrived position (over extension)
7.) Full Range of Motion
The way we were designed to move. Recruit more muscles to do a movement. Better long term joint health. “Use it or lose it”
8.) Effective Grip and Stance
WE MUST STRIVE FOR VIRTUOSITY = Doing the common uncommonly well!
If athletes refuse to take our cues and advice to improve their movements we need to talk to them to figure out why they are not. We need to be RELENTLESS (in a NICE WAY) about this!
“IT’S MY MOBILITY” IS NOT AN EXCUSE! WE SHOULD HAVE OUR ATHLETES FIGHTING FOR THE CORRECT POSITIONS WITH A PVC PIPE. IF THEY CONTINUE TO PRACTICE AND STRIVE FOR THE CORRECT POSITIONS THEIR MOBILITY THEY NEED TO EXECUTE THOSE POSITIONS WILL IMPROVE!
Start and end class on time. Be respectful of people’s time. They may not say anything but may be stressed if class runs over and no one else is not leaving to complete the workout and they have to leave. GIVE THEM AN OUT. If the late class will not run into the next class let everyone know what time it is and say they can leave at any time and we will put their equipment away. APOLOGIZE for going over.
Strive to say everyone’s name in class at least twice during a class and to give one piece of positive or corrective feedback to each athlete each class.
They stress shoulders slightly over the bar and butt higher on deadlifts. Med Ball, Kettlebell, dumbbell should be between feet on cleans or snatches with those objects.
When using a tactile que (i.e., touching) it is more effective if the athlete moves to the touch versus you pushing them.
When using visual cues show the athlete the position you DO NOT want them in and say “ATHLETE NAME You are here.” Then show them where you want them and say “and I need you here.”
I know it may seem weird coaching something as simple as the deadlift or a box jump the same over and over again to athletes that have been coming for over a year, however, realize this. Perhaps an athlete gets too advanced for us and needs a more advanced level of coaching than we can give them and their sick of listening to us go through all of the points of performance every fucking time. If they have become too advanced for us and we cannot give them a level of coaching that their membership warrants, then they SHOULD go somewhere else that they can get that. I think we will have WAY fewer of these types of athletes than the athlete who NEEDS to hear the points of performance on a dead lift or box jump EVERY TIME. I think many more people would leave because we WERE NOT coaching these consistently versus the fact that we WERE. While I don’t want anyone to leave us ever (unless they’re assholes) I would much rather they left because we were OVER COACHING than the opposite. If we have athletes that stay with us for an average of two to three years that is actually pretty good. Even people who love us, just because of human nature, will tire of working so hard after a year or two and probably quit to do something else. Unfortunately, that is just human nature and reality. Over time we will have many more people who are beginners and hopefully stay with us up to a year or two and those types of athletes NEED to have RELENTLESS COACHING EVERY CLASS BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY A GREAT PRESENCE AND ATTITUDE EVERY CLASS!
I thought that our lead instructor Joe Degain gave a great example of why this is important. He said most of his athletes are also his friends who pay him to be their friend (how cool is that?). He just booked a vacation with a few of his athletes/friends. He asked what most athletes, even advanced, do when they do a box jump, which is to have their knees cave in. He said if he and his coaches weren’t RELENTLESS about teaching proper box jump form (one of our simplest movements obviously) all the time, that there would probably NOT be many implications in the short term, however, if his athletes / friends continued to do box jumps like this over the years, at some point, they would probably have serious knee problems.
How do we know if our athletes are getting better? RESULTS = INTENSITY = BETTER FITNESS.
IT BECAME VERY CLEAR TO ME FROM THIS SESSION THAT WE USUALLY HAVE WAY TOO MUCH IN EACH HOUR LONG CLASS. To achieve the optimal results is more important for an athlete to be CONSISTENT and to give the workout, whatever it is, their MAXIMUM INTENSITY than anything else. We need to have days during the week when we are doing ONLY strength OR ONLY a METCON coupled with more accessory and skill work, less volume and more coach led mobility. This will also allow us to spend more time coaching the more advanced movements and skills and hopefully allow our athletes to be more intense in their workouts AND to perhaps recover better. Having more strength only days could perhaps have more of our athletes know what their 1RM on all the lifts is as well.
Idea of having just OPEN GYM DAYS on programmed REST DAYS?
What is fitness? HWCABTMD = Higher Work Capacity Across Broad Time and Modal Domains
Can sub superman or good mornings for GHD back extensions
A good rope climbing skills drill is to have athletes sit on bench and practice the foot work on the rope.
The focus is STILL program for the BEST and SCALE for the REST.
Go through each workout at the white board with the athletes prior to demoing the movements to EXPLAIN the workout AND the intended STIMULUS (e.g., faster, heavier, time to finish, rounds unbroken etc.)
To optimize General Physical Preparedness (GPP) individualized or sports specific programing is RARELY needed (unless athlete has physical limitations, etc.)
Programming should work on weaknesses and be consistent.
Our coaches should give other coaches who participate in their class feedback on things they can improve. We should video our own classes to see what we can improve. Track metrics like saying everyone’s name, number of false reps (demo reps where no feedback was given to athlete). Number of tactile, visual and verbal cues.
Should have HEAVY DAYS regularly. Just one lift. Should be TOTAL of 7 – 21 WORKING REPS at 80% or higher of 1RM.
Corny Idea but could be fun: Like they make us do in the seminars have athletes do a certain number of crisp claps and perhaps cheer some motivational words (like in a football practice) after receiving instructions and before the next part of their workout.