Getting People To Good: Basic Coaching, Coaching Basics

1 Jun

Too often I see new coaches make the mistake of diving right into a movement before going over the basic set up of a lift. Set up is something I harp on A LOT. You would be hard pressed to convince me that it is not important. So much of the execution depends upon how you begin.

I find that the movement itself is a) not that foreign to many people, and b) cleans up greatly when someone is put in a fantastic initial position to begin with.

When I think about what I want to convey to a new client, or young athlete, I think about the tricks and tips I have learned spending over 10 years under the bar. I learned them the hard way, but they don’t need to. Right from the start I am going to take the time to teach them how to set up the bar, how to hold it, un rack it, walk it out, re-rack it, etc.

New coaches are generally pretty adequate at making small observations, or nit picking technical aspects of a lift. The lesson they need to learn is in how you get someone from zero, to that point where you only need to make small corrections. That is where your moneys made sort to speak.

So how is that done?

1. Have an approach:

You need to have a predetermined attack plan for each lift. As a coach, and someone who spends hours reading, hours lifting, and hours watching DVD’s, you have a head FULL of information, pointers, cues, and so on. If you do not systematically approach a lift, then you are going spastically throw information all over the place. Break the lift down into sections, for example:

Squat = Rack Set Up / How To Hold Bar / Head Position / Shoulders to Waist Position / Waist to Foot Position / Un Racking and Walking Out / Eccentric “Going Down” / Concentric “Going Up” / Re Racking

Seems like a lot. However, most people know what a squat looks like. Therefore the set up lesson is more important in order to get them to “good”. From there you can start making small changes.

2. Explain It, Show It, Coach It:

This may seem elementary but I hardly ever see it done. If there are three different kinds of learners then we need to target all of them. Auditory, Visual, Kinesthetic. The reality is we are all probably a mix. Focus on each one in your initial lesson, and then see what looks to be getting through to them the best. Try not to mix the three together. Do not show while explaining, explain while showing, or over explain while hands on coaching.

In this same category, make sure you explain and show the cues you will use when coaching.

If it’s head back, knees out, sit back, chest up, anything, EXPLAIN IT.

3. Focus On Less

Figure out where the client or athlete is having the most trouble and just work on that. If it’s day 1, there are going to be multiple problems. Most people, myself included, have multiple things we need to work on after years of lifting. I am a fan of giving them one thing to focus on, how can we expect them to cue 4 things in .7 seconds on the first day of practice? Figure out what will be the most beneficial thing to hammer down in that day’s session, bring it up to par, and move on.

Coaching is very much an art. Everyone will have their own style and that is why you should continually surround yourself with different people in the industry. No matter how you coach, you must coach the basics, and you must be clear and organized with your initial lesson. As I said earlier, the best coaches are able to get people to good. From good to better is a process, and much easier to execute. As a new coach, do not forget the importance of the rudimentary stuff, it makes all the difference down the line.



4 Responses to “Getting People To Good: Basic Coaching, Coaching Basics”

  1. Sebastian June 1, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    Great tips! Especially point 2.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. R Smith June 2, 2012 at 7:06 am #


    Talk about invaluable information… When I’m assisting a friend with a new lift, one of the first things I say is “I want you to care enough to get it right.” Everyone wants to go in, grab a bar and get to the lift, when what they need is mobility/activation drills to get them properly warmed up, then patience as they get acclimated to each new exercise.

    The point I try to convey is that I want them to do it right from the start, because when the plates go up, you revert back to what you know.

    (Dude, CP picked a winner: Your writing is very good, your approach easy to digest and your reasoning is such that the folks who need it most will find it to their liking. Keep it coming.)


    • gregtrainer June 2, 2012 at 7:27 am #

      Thanks for the continued support, R Smith! It means a lot.

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