Posts Tagged ‘A Good Coach…’

Unfortunately, I’m not close friends with any Professional Athletes. I say unfortunately because I think it would be sweet if one of my best friends was a Major League Baseball player who’d fly his crew all around the country to hang out and be obnoxious fans at his games. (Ok, I just wish I was in an entourage.) ANYWAYS, I bring that up because while most of us were never pro stars, a lot of us played sports throughout most of our childhood. Some of us were pretty good, too!

Now I’m not saying that it’s cool to act like Uncle Rico and be stuck back in your glory days, but I do think that a lot of us have some really fun stories to share about our athletic accomplishments growing up. In fact, it’d probably be fun to share some of those stories with your friends over a beer (or a Kill Cliff…..) to give a bit more insight as to what your past was like. In a sport like CrossFit, I’ve also found that experience in certain sports can sometimes shed light onto a person’s ability to be more successful at exercise racing. For example, wrestlers, swimmers, and hockey players have a strange ability to almost “black out” during a workout and push harder than a lot of other people. Football and rugby players often times have residual freak strength from when they back squatted over 500lbs and cleaned well over 300lbs, even though it may have been over 10-15 years ago. Soccer and baseball players are frequently still fairly explosive and handle body-weight movements really well. Runners… well runners still only run well. (Just kidding, runners! You’re good at other things, too.)


I bring this up because as a coach I come in contact with people who join a CrossFit gym, and after a lifetime of being good at whatever sport they played, they’re humbled every single day. This usually leads to one of a few different paths for the athlete to take.

Some people are discouraged and don’t want to go back to the gym because they’re “embarrassed at how badly” they feel they did. They didn’t use a lot of weight, had to stop and rest a lot, felt like they were the worst athlete in the class, or woke up unbelievably sore. First of all, those people need to know that CrossFit is really hard. For everyone. Every day. That’s one of the first things I ever heard about the program. “It doesn’t ever get easier. You just get stronger or move faster.” Yet we all come back time and time again. The way to get better at this stuff is to keep showing up! Throw those athletic shoes in your bag and head back to the gym tomorrow. You’ve got this!

Others refuse to “accept” their current level of athletic ability and push too hard, too soon. Ok Frank, I understand you used to hit .400 and throw a 96 mile-per-hour fast-ball. News flash, sport… that was 25 years ago, you were 30 pounds lighter, and didn’t sit behind a desk for 10 hours every day. No matter how many times a coach tries to work with them, they always “have to go Rx,” even if it means finishing last in the workout every single day, or failing to meet full range of motion on barbell lifts. If this is you, take it easy. Go light on the barbell one day, reduce the number of reps to finish the workout a little faster, slow down your reps to make sure you’re doing them right. Your body, and your coach, will thank you.

Another group is overtly aware of their athletic past, yet realizes that while they may be more athletic than most, the brakes still need to be pumped a little bit to stay safe. Being able to lift something with bad technique and potentially getting hurt doesn’t outweigh the benefits of hitting a “CrossFit PR” for a given movement. They remember that in college they ran a 4:53 mile, but are plenty satisfied with the 6:04 they just ran last week. These individuals understand that most of use are working out to eat more of what we want, and to look better naked. Thanks for being smart!

Why would sharing your information about your athletic past (and history of injuries while you’re at it) benefit you in CrossFit? It’s not to brag about what you used to do or get upset that you’re no longer at the level you may have once been. It’s to equip your coaches with tools they can use to best help you. In a class of 20 people, I usually will have a different way of coaching each person. If one athlete has never played a sport in their life and the other is a former National Champion, the cues and encouragement given to each of them might be a little bit different. I certainly don’t think it’ll negatively impact your performance in the gym at all. So speak up, share your story, and be proud. Not even of where you’ve been, but of where you are right now. In the gym, trying to make yourself better. I know I’m proud of you!

Most of you know how passionate I am about coaching. I love trying to help people achieve what they previously thought impossible. I love seeing the faces of athletes who run a full 400m without jogging or walking for the first time.  I LOVE hearing how people who are a bit older, have the medical numbers of a 21 year-old with decreased blood pressure, improved resting heart rate and an increased lung capacity in just one year’s time! (cough*Wes*cough)

While I love those things, I also work everyday to try and become a better coach, myself. This blog post, from CrossFit Games athlete Lauren Plumey of Coastline CrossFit, touches on what I agree are some of the most important qualities of a good coach! Hopefully I can show at least some of them when leading a class of athletes.  I agree with what she wrote so much!

I hope you enjoy this post!

A Good Coach…

~by Lauren Plumey

What do you see in the picture above? I see a coach. A good coach; and probably a good friend; post-CrossFit workout.

There is a reason that most CrossFit gyms chose the term “Coach” rather than “Trainer” to entitle their instructors. A coach is so much more than a trainer. And a good coach is a whole other story.

A good coach doesn’t lie to you and tell you that you’re doing great when you’re not. A good coach tells you what you’re doing right, and commends you for it, but then tells you what you need to “work on.”

A good coach does not sacrifice your safety for your ego. He/she will pull you out of the “game” when you are hurt, even if it causes his/her team to “lose”.

A good coach realizes that there are some things that just won’t be fixed overnight. And he/she is patient as you work towards fixing these faults.

A good coach thinks about you long after you leave the gym. He/she thinks about what you’ve done well, how you have made him/her proud, and how you can continue to get better. Sometimes this coach even “drops you a line” to let you know these thoughts.

A good coach can recognize a bad day. A day when you just “don’t have it.” And tells you to take a rest day. It’s not the end of the world…you’ll be back taking names in no time.

A good coach feels your victories and feels your defeats. Ask any coach, in any sport~I guarantee that they’ll confirm this. I’d go as far as saying a good coach would rather lose herself than see you lose.

A good coach is one you fear…not in the sense that you think they’ll hurt you, or penalize you with more burpees; but because you do not want to disappoint him/her.

A good coach will sacrifice his/her training, to make you achieve a desired end.

A good coach will tell you there’s hope–and actually make you believe there is–even when he/she can’t quite find it herself yet.

As an individual who didn’t engage in a sport until my mid-twenties, I never got to meet many great coaches, or even understand the importance of one. I firmly believe that in the short time I’ve CrossFitted I have witnessed some of the best coaching in existence. Some of this has been of those who directly coached me, or in simply witnessing other athletes be coach in their “boxes” and at competitions.

Thank you Jason Leydon, David Plumey, and Ben Kelly for your superb coaching throughout the years; and for providing me with the skill set to coach others that I care about. And thank you to our great coaching staff at Shoreline CrossFit. You all possess the aforementioned qualities, and many more.

Take the time to thank your coaches when you get a chance–it may even be you basketball coach from high school–shoot him an email. I bet he’ll appreciate it…