Category: coaching

Coaching advice…. how much, how often?

The most technical exercise that I know of is swimming (sorry CrossFitters). Every movement has technique – whether it’s technique in order to be better (running) or technique just to do it (muscle up), but swimming is special because it’s the only exercise where you are moving your body through a fluid. That provides a lot of resistance. You can flail and move, but to get any speed in the pool or consistency you have to have technique.

The best swim coaches I’ve had were infrequent in their input. They would see something wrong in a stroke. During a break they would say, “your elbows should be higher, do that finger tip drag we practiced yesterday and focus on your elbow position.”

Then they would go away for 400 or 500 meters or maybe a 1,000 while you worked on that technique.

The most challenging swim coaches provided frequent input. They would see something wrong in a stroke. By “challenging” I mean that they were a real challenge to deal with as an athlete. Maybe they would provide the same “high elbows” suggestion, but they would also come back one lap later and add, “OK, now point your toes behind you.” and then one lap later, “now try bilateral breathing.”

By the 4th lap I wouldn’t have a clue what the hell they were talking about. There was just too much data.

When coaching CrossFit I’d say that the same thing applies. People can only process 1 or 2 things at a time. The other day I received 5 cues – during 1 set of double unders. I remember none of the cues because I had no time to practice 1 thing consistently enough to let it sink in. That annoys me because they were probably good cues and would help my Dubs.

1 cue at a time, and, preferably, 1 cue per workout.

Any more, and we won’t remember a damned thing.

OK, I’m not talking about safety. Of course I’m not. If somebody is unsafe then fix that, but if they have already been given 3 cues…

Let it ride.

We’ll be back tomorrow to the next thing. We promise.


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