Ever feel like your coach is a broken record? Repeating the same observations and the same cues every time you make the mistake of lifting in front of them?
I feel you.
I’ve been that athlete and I’ve been that coach.
Having been on both sides I can tell you one thing now, as an athlete it’s often the opposite of the famous breakup line- it’s not you it’s them.
I’m not saying that your coach isn’t right (I mean I think I am right at least 99.999% of the time) in what they are seeing and the issues with your mechanics or movement.
What is wrong is their failure to communicate. If they’ve told you/ shown you/ positioned you in to a correct position or movement and you still don’t get it after a little while…guess what?
They need to find a new way to communicate the correct way to you.
I saw a great post on instagram about a coaches inability to provide scaling or substitutions for an injured athlete being a limitation of their coaching ability, and not a limitation of the athlete.
The same applies here.
I speak English fairly well (depending who you ask), and if I happened to have Lu Xiaojun (if you don’t know who that is google it) come up to me and provide lifting advice in Mandarin, I think he would probably realise quickly I don’t speak Mandarin and move on to visual or tactile cuing.
So why do we persist in a class or coaching situation with providing the same cues to the same people when it isn’t getting through to them?
Comfort zones, familiarity with the cues…and apathy.
It’s very easy to be a drive by coach. Provide a cue, and then walk off to solve the next problem without actually waiting and seeing what effect that cue has.
You can very quickly determine whether a cue has had the desired effect, but if you aren’t invested in that client’s progress, it’s very easy to throw a “much better!” at them and move on.
SO if you are a coach or a client what should you do?
As a coach it’s simple, set yourself a number of touch points each class/session for your clients and make sure you get around to them X amount of times with USEFUL feedback.
-“Keep crushing it!” Or “Keep the intensity up!” is not useful feedback…that’s motivational cheerleading.
-Give them tips on movement performance, efficiencies or technique that they can implement, and then WAIT around to see what they implemented and whether it fixed the problem, and if it brought to light any new problems.
-Use different styles of cuing for different clients, some people learn better visually, or through auditory means, or by feeling the movement.
-Make a determined effort to get to know your client and if all else fails…ask them how they learn best!
-I think most people have an understanding of how they best absorb information, so don’t waste time trying to figure it out if you’re struggling, just ask them.
-Make yourself a list of phrases you’re not allowed to use, or limit how many times you use them, eg I know that I am constantly saying “eyes up” and “breathe”, so to save time I am just getting t-shirts made I can wear…
In all seriousness, keep it fresh, if you’re tired of saying it, I guarantee they’re sick of hearing it.
If you’re not a coach and you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You are obviously interested in improving your performance and should obviously sign up to The Buffalo Tribe.
Now you’ve done that, let’s talk about how you can help your coach out:
-tell them you don’t understand. Make it clear that their cues or instructions don’t make sense to you, there’s no shame in it.
Make them earn their keep by explaining it a different way.
-try not to adjust how you perform the movement once and then revert to habit because it feels “weird”. Change is weird and strange to get used to, so is going from a Hyundai Excel to a Porsche 911, but it’s a change worth sticking to.
-be coachable. I am terrible at this and have caught myself in the past getting glazed over eyes as someone has tried to help me, daydreaming about what I’m going to eat for dinner.
A coaches only role is to help you improve in a safe and efficient manner.
It’s pretty rare that someones whole job is solely devoted to making you a better person, so take advantage of that.
Don’t have a coach?
Film yourself. Become your own coach (or find one).
We live in a time where there have never been more free resources available, and while that brings with it the dangers of those who don’t know sharing their knowledge, its also an exciting opportunity.
There are hours and hours of instructional videos and movement breakdowns from some of the best to ever do and teach it available on Youtube, in almost any field you can think of.
Take advantage of it.
And if that seems like a lot and you’re a little overwhelmed, start small.
Film yourself moving, ask yourself how you could improve your movement and implement.
Knowledge of flaws and knowledge of corrections is important, but implementation is the key.
So go work and if you need any help you know where we are.