At this week’s CrossFit Empower coaches meeting we discussed the criteria for evaluating our own coaching performances.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a coach?  We’re not claiming to have mastered any of these domains but as coaches we are always trying to become better at the following 6 critical coaching skills:

1) Communication & understanding.  We need to learn to clearly articulate instructions and to be able to understand the expressed needs of our athletes.  Given the diversity of communication styles present in any group of people, this may be the most challenging coaching skill.

2) Seeing.  It is our job to coach movement.  We must therefore train ourselves to spot flaws in both the static and dynamic phase of a movement.  What specifically are we looking for?

a. Mid line stabilization
b. Core to extremity force generation
c. Balance about the frontal plane
d. Posterior chain engagement
e. Correct hip function
f. Active shoulders
g. Effective grip and stance
h. Full range of motion around a joint

3) Correcting.  Once we’ve identified a movement fault(s) we need to be able to triage, addressing the most critical issues first.  We need to fill our tool kit with a variety of verbal, visual and tactile cues to help correct the movement in question.

4) Presence and Attitude.  The coach sets the tone for the class.  You may be having a rough day but that’s not the energy you want to bring.  We want to create a warm, friendly, energized environment.  We want to develop rapport with each and every group class attendee.  We want you to leave feeling you got the attention you needed.  We want to practice empathy.  It’s a tall order and the bigger the class, the more challenging it gets!

5) Class Management.  We need to make sure everyone has the equipment and space that they need, that the gym layout allows for safe performance of movements and travel between stations, that athletes have correct movement modifications and loading for their fitness level, that there are no environment hazards or reckless activities that will put members at risk.  Some workouts are more challenging than others.

6) Effective demonstration.  Demonstrating movements effectively is a key part of coaching but what if we’re not perfect?  As coaches we need to be self aware enough to know what we can and cannot demo and we need to know who to call on or how to scale a movement if we cannot demo it as prescribed.

On a daily basis we are evaluating our coaching performances across these 6 parameters.  Our effectiveness as a coach can be measured by our ability to consistently demonstrate excellence in this coaching skill set.  Just as there is always room to refine and improve your CrossFit movements, there is always room to develop our coaching skills.  I’ll write a celebratory post the on day I feel I’ve done an outstanding job across all 6 parameters.  Until then I will continue to hone my craft in earnest.