When Over-Coaching Goes Bad

When Over-Coaching Goes Bad

My, oh my. To say I’ve been slacking on this blog this past week is an understatement.

I’m lame and I apologize for my slack-itude. 

To be even more of a slacker, today’s post isn’t even from me. Yikes. 

But since it’s been a while since I’ve had someone on, I couldn’t think of a better person than to ask badass strength coach and friend, Johnny Tea. 

Why is he so awesome?

1) He knows his shit.
2) He lives in California.
3) He uses bitmojis in conversation more than me.

Without further ado, Johnny is going to discuss the idea of over-coaching clients and athletes. Enjoy. 

Person steps up to the barbell, gets ready to perform a deadlift, then you hear someone yell out from across the room, “Remember to grip the floor, keep your knees soft, take a deep breath and brace your core, hinge your hips back, pack your shoulders and neck, keep your neck neutral, focus on crushing the ground, squeeze your glutes at the top. Now just put that all together and you’re good.”

Tell that to a beginner/novice lifter and I’m pretty sure they’re going to want to do this:

Giving someone 100 different cues before a lift isn’t productive. Actually, it can be quite the opposite.

Look I get it, as coaches we want to coach up our clients and give them cues that will allow them to perform better and minimize injuries. But sometimes over-coaching can decrease the client(s) confidence, leave them frustrated, and make the person throw their hands up and say, “Screw this, I’m done.”

Note from Erica: As trainers, we don’t have to pick apart every client’s move, especially when it’s just to “say something.” Be patient. Let them perform the lift. If you see something glaring that will injure them, point that out FIRST.

1. ) Figure out your clients/athletes preferred learning style.
There are 3 types of learning styles: visual, kinesthetic, and auditory.

-Visual learners can pick things up just by watching you demonstrate an exercise.

-Kinesthetic learners do best when they’re put in a position to appreciate what it feels like.

Note from Erica: If your client is a kinesthetic learner, ensure they truly *feel* the position they need to be in by providing an external stimulus. In the above video, I’m working on Maria’s knee valgus by having her push her knees out against the force of my hands.

-Auditory learners can simply hear you say a cue, and they’re good.

Figure out which learning style matches your clients/athletes preference and go from there. It’ll improve your communication skills and make it much easier for the client to pick up what you’re putting down.

This is something I learned from Eric Cressey and it’s helped me become a better coach over the years. 

2.) Keeping the cues simple.

Simplifying your cues will make it easier for your clients/athletes to understand what it is exactly you want from them. Instead of saying, “I want you to posteriorly tilt your pelvis”, a cue I like using is “pretend you have a belt on and tilt your belt buckle up to your chin”.

If someone’s head is tilting forward to the ground while performing a push up, simply telling them to pull their nose away from the floor might be all they need to hear instead of “packing your neck” or “tuck your chin down and back”.

Additionally, try using only about 3 cues per exercise if you can. This will make it easier for your client to perform the exercise without overthinking it.

In the end, it’s not about speaking coach jargon to your clients, but speaking a language that the people you work with can understand.

Sidenote: However, if you’re really trying to impress the person, just go right ahead and explain what the ubulus muscle connects to. It worked for Ron Burgundy and I’m sure it’ll work for you too. ;-O

3.) Getting the client comfortable with basic cueing first.

 When I first start working with a new client, I like going over some basic cues.

Why? Because the sooner they can grasp certain cues such as learning how to brace their core, setting up a tripod foot position, and packing their shoulders and neck, the more comfortable they’ll be in performing these cues.

And the more comfortable they are with these basic cues, the easier it is for me to verbalize them, knowing they’ll pick it up right away.

The end result is a more confident client/athlete who’s able to apply these cues and focus on the execution of the exercise.

In the end, it’s our job as coaches to put our clients in a position to succeed, and these tips will help you do so by keeping things simple.

Johnny Tea MS, NMT, CSCS, TPI

Strength Coach/ Manual Therapist

Website — www.jtstrengththerapy.com

Facebook — Johnny Tea

Instagram — johnny_tea_


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