When is a Coach just a Coach? Never. “Coach” is a coverall term used in most every box to identify those who are responsible for a class and its athletes. But that term is really just a blanket that covers a number of different roles the guy or gal running the show fills. Here are 5 important roles every coach plays each time he/she takes the helm.
An Ambassador isn’t just a foreign dignitary, it’s also someone who promotes or backs a certain activity. A good Ambassador knows everyone and can engage with everyone. Do you know all your athletes names? If you don’t, do you ask? Do you introduce drop-ins or new members to the class? Able to speak to large crowds at any time and convey directions? VITAL!
Be the social bridge in your class and build the tribe by helping your athletes establish relationships among themselves and with you. Knowing your athletes and a little bit about who they are is one of your most important roles as a good CrossFit Coach, crossing over several other roles.
Who is protecting your athletes? You are! Do you know how to properly scale any movement to the lowest-capacity (for now) athlete? Can you identify, and more importantly, correct movement deficiencies? Is someone scaling through an injury or issue (The Ambassador should know!)?
The best marketing for a CrossFit gym is your athletes’ progress, and their friends and family remarking, “You look great! What are you doing?”. It is not, “What happened to you!?!?” The former can be a walking billboard for a great box with great coaching, drawing in more and more athletes. The latter can have the opposite effect. Slow and good is ALWAYS better than fast and bad. Take care of your athletes and they will reward you with their loyalty and that of their friends and families.
The Teacher should first and foremost be a good BodyGuard (protect your people) who can provide simple and effective directions and cues (verbal, visual, tactile) that are easily understood by large groups. Does it take you five minutes to teach a movement when it could take you 30 seconds AND be more effective? Are you able to take an athlete who moves well and safely and now make them more efficient?
Be the conveyor of knowledge. You study videos and articles and books, now pass them along to your athletes. Information is extremely valuable to your athletes, but it doesn’t do them any good if it never leaves your cranium. Practice how to teach a movement, and remember the cues and information that got the best responses. A knowledgeable, succinct teacher makes for a more efficient class.
THE MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER
If you’re not correcting or improving, you should be motivating. Are some of your athletes more responsive to positive persuasion (You got this.. You can do it.. Breathe and go)? Or are they more responsive to a bootcamp mentality (Come On! Pick up the Bar and go!)? The Ambassador (know your people) will know who responds to what and the BodyGuard will be able to tell if your motivational style is spurring bad movements for the sake of speed (time to dial back and correct)!
Silent for more than 10 seconds at a time? Athletes can workout to loud music at home for free. Let them hear you and let them know you’re watching them. It will improve their confidence and they’ll perform better.
Wrapping it all together. Can you interact positively with all your athletes, keep them moving safely while correcting, teaching, and motivating them AND do it all while monitoring the clock, sticking to the programmed plan and not bouncing your class into the next hour? A class should never have to guess what’s next.
As some are about to finish one portion of a warmup or one section of the workout (strength or metcon), let them all know what is next. That way, those who finish first can transition right into the next stage and those behind them can play follow the leader. Class running too long? Are you ready to cut down the timecap so the box can be ready for the next class? A great maestro can turn a class into a high-intensity, fun symphony of movement and interaction.
What roles are you good at? Which ones maybe not so much? Having trouble playing all five roles at once? Just like a CrossFit athlete, always pursue improvement across the whole spectrum and all good things will follow.
About the Author: Don Moss, NSCA-CPT and CrossFit Level 2 Certified, is the Owner of CrossFit Apogee in Gibsonton, Florida. A 23-year veteran of the Air Force, Don found CrossFit in Iraq in 2010 and it has been his passion ever since to spread the joy and benefits of CrossFit to as many people as possible. He is married to his kickass wife Tracy and is proud papa to Michael, Amanda and Avery. Check out their story at cfapogee.com.