You’ve heard the saying. Probably while waiting impatiently in a TSA line at the airport. “If you see something, say something…” Sounds easy enough. Report something that can potentially be harmful or suspect. I’d like to believe that suspicious activity doesn’t happen too often at the airport and if it does, I hope someone will “say something.”
When I had the job of developing coaches both nationally and internationally, this saying came up regularly in a different context. The coach would see a fault, know it was a fault, but for whatever reason, would not address or fix the fault with the client.
First, I assumed that it was probably because they were under pressure of a watchful eye since my tiny 5’1’’ frame is quite intimidating. But even after I gave them the note, it would happen again. And they definitely had the ability to see and identify faults because when I questioned them after, they were able to point them out. But for some reason, when it came to game time, they would freeze.
After experiencing this a number of times, I noticed a few trends that created this roadblock for coaches.
Some coaches (and perhaps just people in general) hate confrontation. What we have to understand is that being comfortable with confrontation and being confrontational are two completely different things. More importantly, one makes you a good coach while the latter just makes you an arsehole.
Pat Barber is a great example of someone who isn’t confrontational but isn’t afraid to correct anyone who needs to be corrected either. If Dave Castro did a workout in front of Pat and didn’t go below parallel, you better believe Pat would let him know.
Ultimately, it’s all about your delivery. If you deliver the message in a way that shows you care, it will make confronting a client about their poor form a lot easier. We all want to be the “good guy,” but not correcting your athletes will do more harm and turn you into a glorified cheerleader.
Even though the coaches knew the faults were present, their lack of coaching confidence was a huge problem. This is a tough one to help with because confidence can’t be taught. But I can guarantee that over time if you continue to work on correcting, it becomes easier. You’ll see athletes adjust and correct themselves based on your feedback and you’ll feel a rush of gratification! Become addicted to this kind of satisfaction and use it as a way to motivate yourself to seek out and correct faults.
We’re humans, and we’re not perfect. Maybe it’s the super early morning class, or maybe it’s your 7th class in a row that day, and you simply don’t have the energy to say anything. Be careful that this doesn’t become a recurring problem. A couple of slip-ups can be understandable, but if this behavior is becoming the norm, then it might be time to address your schedule or limit the number of classes you coach per day.
At the end of the day, clients want to be corrected. They’re coming to you and into your gym to be better, so you owe it to them to correct their bad movements. In your journey to becoming a great coach, do not let bad or even okay form fall by the wayside. As they say at the CrossFit seminars, “be relentless.” This might mean feeling uncomfortable at first, but trust that it will get better with time and practice. And truly, your clients will appreciate you more for it. So, “if you see something, say something” in class or at the airport!