This is a post from the outstanding CrossFit Coach and the owner of what I would like to think of as ‘our sister gym’, CrossFit Montgomery County. It speaks volumes and is much worth your time to read and contemplate a wee bit.
One of the things that came to mind when I read this was that the gift of a being a good coach is earned from years of being a silent coach first. Understanding what an athlete needs at any one time is complex at it’s simplest. It as much an awareness of what is the biggest stumbling block in his or her way and knowing what NOT to say. The nuanced skill of not ‘over-coaching’ can only be gained from experience learning from other coaches and, sadly, is often never learned if the mentor is guilty of being a bit of an 0ver-corrector. No certification or degree can teach this one key ingredient.
I am always, as Tai is, deeply pleased to see any of our family so excited about what they have learned that they can barely hold it back. It’s a sign of dedication and joy to be bursting with a desire to share what’s so good about what we do, but can, as Tai says, cause ‘far more harm than good.’ You trusted in our coaching for your education, you trusted our judgement and care for your safety, trust in our coaching for those around you as well so that they may one day be as excited as you are now.
There are few things that I love hearing more than people shouting encouragement to others in the gym. I’m frequently told by an athlete (usually after a big PR on something) that they wouldn’t have pushed themselves that hard without the loud and excited support of everyone cheering for them to go harder and faster. It’s one of the many things that makes CrossFit so great, in my humble opinion.
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in another person’s success that you begin throwing out helpful pointers here and there too, in hopes they’ll fix whatever is keeping them from going even faster. This is where the problem begins, however, and it needs to be addressed before it gets any worse.
There is a fine line between shouting encouragements (“C’mon Jack! You can do it! Go go go!!”) and shouting unsolicited advice (“Push through your heels! Keep your elbows up! Drive with your hips!!). It’s one we cross readily and happily when watching sports on TV (“Don’t pass it to HIM you idiot, just go up the middle!), but it’s a line you should never, EVER cross at a CrossFit gym (this one or any other).
Ever hear the saying “too many cooks spoil the broth?” It goes for coaching too. In terms of improving their movements in the gym, people can generally process only one or two things at a time. It’s the coaches’ job to decide what those one are two things should be in that moment to help that person improve, and your cues will very likely disrupt what the coaches are trying to accomplish. The last thing a beginning athlete with a rounding back needs is advice on fine tuning their behind-the-neck snatch-grip push presses because you saw Coach Burgener use it to help Annie Thorisdottir in a video on the CrossFit Journal.
However, the biggest reason you shouldn’t cross that line is simple: you are not the coach. And even if you are a coach somewhere, you are not the coach at this gym. Have respect for the people who ARE the coaches, and let them do the coaching. It’s their job, not yours. Unless the coach has specifically requested your help, you should keep your coaching cues to yourself (regardless of how badly you feel the athlete needs to hear them).
Cheering is highly encouraged in CrossFit, and everyone benefits from having people push them during the workouts. However, though your coaching cues are intended only to help, they may be doing far more harm than good.