Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Art Of Coaching: Less Cueing, More Praising?

This is my first post on this site in over a year.  I had moved my content to my other site,, and wanted to start writing more for women and beginner trainees - I focus on the basics that I believe will allow them to make positive change in their bodies and lives.  I cover nutrition, behavior change, exercise, body image issues, etc.

However, since I am still working on the floor as a coach six days a week, I have a lot of things I want to share with other trainers/coaches and more advanced trainees.

Therefore, this is going to be my outlet for that content.  I hope you enjoy!

I have made many mistakes as a coach, but one that I want to discuss today is the mistake of making my clients believe they need to move perfectly and strive for symmetry.

Yes, this is a great goal to shoot for, but if your clients believe they need to strive for perfection then they will often be afraid to add weight or increase their intensity for fear of doing it incorrectly.

Sometimes, especially for beginners, an extra load can challenge them enough to build stability so that when he or she goes back to a lighter load they will be able to handle it much better.

Now there is obviously a fine line to this.  I think you always need to ask yourself:  What is this person's injury history?  What are his or her goal(s)?  How good is the technique?  What is their rating of perceived exertion?

I think many times a client just needs to be told "It looks good.  You are doing great."

An example of this are clients that have been or are in pain.  These individuals tend to overthink when performing an exercise and constantly seek feedback on their form.

Many times the best answer for these people is, "It looks good.  Here is one thing I would think about for the next set..."

If it looks terrible, then you obviously need to cue them or stop them, but if the movement looks decent (8 out of 10 on technique) I usually tell them good job and possibly give them one cue to think about for the next set.

People with pain need to feel confident in their movement.  They often do not trust their body and are constantly thinking, "Does this hurt, does this hurt, does this hurt?"  They are waiting for pain to happen.  Your job is to get them out of their heads and get them moving more comfortably.

Maybe this will mess up their motor program slightly because they are practicing it in a non-ideal way, but if they are not going to get hurt then maybe that is what they need to hear that day.

Here is another example:  If a client comes to you after a very stressful day or week then making them feel like they are doing something wrong is not the best thing for them.  Yes, our number one job as coaches and trainers is to keep them injury free, but if they are not performing the movement in a way that will hurt them then maybe we should give just try to make them feel better.

They will remember moments like these.  "Last time I went to the gym after a bad day I felt _____."

How do your clients feel after they leave from a session with you?  This is an important question to ask.

Consistency is the number one thing that will help a client see results and making him or her feel good can be an important component of this.

One of the things that Charlie Weingroff says is that you need to put your clients in a position to succeed.  I like this idea.  When you program for someone take this into consideration.

You may have in mind a really fancy exercise that will target all of their asymmetries and dysfunctions, but how will they feel performing it?  Will they feel successful?

I realize that a big part of our job as coaches it to educate our clients on why they are doing a certain exercise, but sometimes this still does not work.  Clients want to feel like they are accomplishing something.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  I have been reading more and more into change psychology, and I believe our programming and coaching should sometimes change to our clients' needs and mindset for a particular day.

A lot of trainers and coaches are now talking about perfect movement and how to go about achieving this, but at the end of the day, we still need to give our clients a challenging workout that they feel successful with and feel like they have accomplished something.


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