PSA: Before diving into this topic, let’s clear the air on what my intentions for this post are not; this is not meant to ruffle anyone’s feathers, call anyone out or belittle anyone’s good intentions. This post is to clear the air on a topic that is universal to gyms (CrossFit and any fitness operations) and how to properly use the available resources to get the most out of your training and experience.
Set foot into any gym environment and you are bound to see a variety of training equipment, gym goers using said equipment and coaches. This post is going to dive into what a coach is, what led them to coaching, the process involved in becoming a coach and why their voice is the most important one in the room.
I am going to define a coach in the way that I view them and keep it as simple as possible, because the reality is, books have been written on what roles coaches play in athlete’s lives. Coaches are teachers; they are responsible for helping athletes learn proper movement mechanics, attain new skills and above all else, make progress in the gym. Coaches are in charge of pushing athletes out of their comfort zones, assisting athletes with setting goals and keeping athletes motivated. This is just the surface level of what duties a coach has to juggle and I could write another blog on the impact a coach can have on an athlete in and out of the gym.
In CrossFit, there is a common misconception that all you need in order to “coach” someone is to either attend a weekend seminar or participate in CrossFit for an extended period of time. To an extent that is true, but in order to be a real coach who can facilitate everything an athlete needs, there is so much more that goes into the process of becoming a coach. For most of us, it started with a weekend seminar. The initial seminar is one of the best there is, lots of hands on learning, but at the end of the weekend you are not truly a coach. I would compare this to someone enrolling in an accounting course and after the first week thinking they are a CPA. It is only the beginning of their educational journey. The journey for coaches is filled with attendance of seminars, books ranging on topics from energy systems to interpersonal relationship building and hours upon hours of coaching. So much more than one weekend in a dimly lit CrossFit Box.
One thing that always stands out to me no matter what gym I am at, is that there is too much noise. I don’t mean that someone cranked the speakers up to max volume, but that there are too many voices pulling athletes in too many directions. The intent is never ill-willed, but nevertheless the act of coaching your fellow athletes can be detrimental to not only their performance, but also to what the coach is trying to accomplish. As previously mentioned, coaches have put in a significant amount of time and energy into mastering their craft. When an athlete comes in and attempts to help a fellow athlete (even though their intentions come from a good place), the athlete is now conflicted on who to listen to, what cues to use, what direction they need to take. It causes confusion and ultimately impedes the process as a whole. Furthermore, it demonstrates a lack of confidence in the coach and their ability to actually coach.
At the very start of this post, I stated that this was not meant to ruffle anyone’s feathers or call anyone out. This is not meant to step on anyone’s toes or to hurt anyone’s feelings, but rather an opportunity for everyone to work together to accomplish our goals of reaching our full potential. In order for that to happen, there needs to be trust in what coaches are trying to do. There needs to be clearly defined roles as to who is the coach and who is the athlete. We have dedicated our careers to coaching and helping to bring out the best in our athletes, if you think we are not qualified to do that, it might be time to look for a new coach. It is our job and responsibility to facilitate an environment that allows athletes to flourish and not have to tiptoe around a myriad of “coaches” in the process. We want what is best for all of our athletes and have spent time and energy into being able to do just that. Having too much noise in the gym complicates the situation and creates a chaotic environment that is difficult to navigate. In order to get the most out of your own training and those around you, let the coach coach. Allow us to give directions, cues and help athletes navigate the waters.