Movement & Body Dimensions

Pat Barber Coaching Challenges

This week’s coaching challenge is about noticing body dimensions and how they affect positions.

“Movement, specifically technical movement in exercise and sport, is subject to anthropometric and geometric influences. This means that how people’s bodies are put together and the relative sizes of the various parts affect how they look and perform when doing certain movements. Just think about obvious cases of this truth—NBA centers and NFL offensive linemen, for example. Their build suits the demands of their sport and position, and so the best players in a given physical sport usually have similar dimensions. Soviet sports scientists even had a set of target anatomical dimensions they used in selecting developmental athletes in various fields to increase the likelihood of individual and team success. Championship teams are frequently built by recruiting players with the right bodies and skills—as much as by elite coaching.

The average trainer, coach or physical educator must have a functional understanding of how differing anatomical phenotypes (different body dimensions and body-segment lengths) affect the way proper technique looks.⁣

…⁣

Being able to see, at a glance, how a trainee’s body dimensions compare to an average template helps us place the trainee in correct, efficient and safe exercise positions. Being oblivious to anthropometric considerations means that we cannot teach our trainees how to exercise to their best benefit for the biggest gain in fitness. Being oblivious means that we may, without intending to, place trainees in positions that can decrease their efficiency and even increase their risk of injury.”⁣

Words by Lon Kilgore in the article The Measure of Man (CF Journal).

 

Read the article.

When you coach this week, choose at least 3-5 people per class where you really pay attention to how their body dimensions are affecting the positions they can get into. Work with them, maybe even video their movement for them, and educate them on the topic so they have a deeper understanding of their own bodies.

Because if they have very long legs, and a compact torso, they need to understand how that could affect their squat (and so on). Or, said differently: they might really like to know it’s why their squat looks different than someone else’s. This is a super surface level example, but you get the idea.

GPP and the 3x a Week Member

Pat Barber Coaching, GPP

Pop Quiz:⁣⠀
⁣⠀
You’re a coach at a GPP or fitness-biased gym.⁣

A member who comes in 2-3x a week approaches you after class.⁣

They’re upset because they don’t get to touch the barbell every time they come in.⁣

They feel like they’d get stronger and fitter, and get more bang for their buck, with a strength-biased program.⁣

What’s your response?⁣⠀

 

For some potential answers, look here.

Or cruise our blog post archives on GPP.

Coaching Challenge: Practicing Emotional Intelligence

Pat Barber Coaching Challenges

If you were to study the world’s best CrossFit or fitness coaches to figure out what makes a great coach so great, we believe the answer would center around connection.⠀

Great coaches know how to connect with other people.⠀

Which is to say, great coaches practice empathy and emotional intelligence.⠀

Those two terms — empathy and emotional intelligence — are often lumped together.⠀

But they’re not one and the same.⠀

“Emotional intelligence includes a cognitive awareness of empathy, which is less natural and more contemplative, but after some practice and familiarity, can produce the feeling of empathy if it’s not already present. Empathy is an inclination while emotional intelligence is developed through practice and immersion, reflection and comprehension, analytic ability and consideration. One who has empathy but lacks emotional intelligence, has an innate ability of being able to imagine how someone else feels, but might not necessarily know how to properly act on it to achieve a positive outcome.” ⠀
— Aimee Sparrow⠀

Emotional Intelligence (EI/EQ) has many definitions but, ultimately, the idea can be distilled to this: EI is your ability to be aware of and manage your own emotions while also being sensitive to the emotions of others. It is a practice of self-discipline and self-evaluation. It asks you to be a better listener, opens you to different viewpoints and helps you maintain boundaries. It’s about reading a situation and choosing the most effective path for a positive outcome.⠀

It is not something you have to be born with. It’s a choice, something that can be practiced.⠀

The challenge this week is one of reflection.⠀

We’re asking you to give these questions some thought:⠀

  • How does empathy show up in my coaching?
  • How does emotional intelligence show up?
  • How could I practice emotional intelligence?

Behaviors Build Culture

Pat Barber Culture

When we’re talking about gym culture, we’re talking about how you do things. It’s what you expect from your community, and what they can expect from you. It’s what makes people feel at home or amongst their people. ⁣⠀
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Culture is the set of shared attitudes, values and goals that characterize an organization.⁣⠀
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To us, it’s what builds and drives community. It’s what attracts the right members and coaches to your facility.⁣⠀

We believe behaviors build culture, and then culture builds community.

To us, “behaviors” include all your systems, processes, words, traditions and actions.
⁣⠀
And we think it’s important to reflect on these behaviors to see if they’re in alignment with the type of gym culture you want to steer. ⁣⠀


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This is just one way to check-in:

Let’s say that you’ve succeeded in building your ideal, or dream, gym culture. If your members were describing that culture to some friends over dinner, what words would they use? How would they explain it?⁣⠀

If that’s not clicking for you, think about the type of community you’ve always wanted to be a part of. Now think of the culture that defines that community, that gives it shape. Culture is, in many ways, a container. What’s that container filled with?

Are your behaviors today laying the groundwork for your bigger vision for the future? Are your behaviors actively making your dream a reality? Think about all the little details of your facility, from the top down.

If we want our gym to be the home of the best CrossFit coaches around, then we have to ask ourselves these types of questions. And answer them honestly. With genuine self-reflection. And a willingness to face hard truths, without feeding our fragile egos.

We must care more about progress than perfection.

Onward.

Coaching Challenge: Using Positive Language

Pat Barber Coaching Challenges

Daniel Wegner, PhD, was a Harvard University psychology professor who is often referred to as the founding father of suppression research. He discovered that if you tell someone not to think of a white bear, they will think of a white bear several times a minute. Interestingly, if you tell those same people to think of white bears, they will do it less often.

So, telling someone NOT to do something can result in them doing it much more often than if you’d told them to DO it.

Another Harvard psychologist, B.F. Skinner, proved that true learning takes place when good behavior is rewarded. We do not learn nearly as well when people criticize our negative or bad behavior.

As parents, we find this all very fascinating.

But what does it all mean for CrossFit coaches and trainers?

Well, we guess we would ask you how often you coach the positive?

How can you change “Don’t…” types of cues to more positive language?

It’s the difference between…

“Don’t let your back round!”

vs.

“Keep your chest up!”

Watch your words. Pay attention to how many times you say “Don’t…” in a class.

Oh, and one last thing: How do you acknowledge or reward positive behavior or good technique?

Fun things to think about.

Our aim with these coaching challenges is not to give you just CrossFit coaching tips and tricks, but to create a space where you might rethink a perspective, belief or mindset so that you can keep progressing.

We’re in this too, still learning, still making mistakes, still growing. It’s a process of lifelong learning.

Onward we go.

Are you focused on the competition or the contribution?

Pat Barber Coaching

Success is not about competition, it’s about contribution. — Adam Grant

We can be so focused on winning, on being the best, that we forget we’re in a career that’s about service.

As CrossFit coaches, we’re paid to show up and serve our community.

That’s how we contribute.

That’s where our attention and energy should be.

So, it’s worth it to wonder:

  • How could you contribute more?
  • How could you contribute more effectively?⁣
  • What behaviors, habits and mindsets keep you from contributing?⠀

Keep on pushing for growth.

Onward.

Coaching Challenge: Clients Who “Need More”

Pat Barber Coaching Challenges

One of the things I hear at a lot of CrossFit facilities is “I need more.”

More lifting. More difficulty. More workout (less warm-up).


A few members might need more.⠀

Maybe.

Usually, though, it’s because they don’t go hard enough in a workout.

To show them how intensity feels, have them do The 10 Burpees Test.

Step ONE: Have the person do 10 burpees nice and slow.

Then, have them pay attention to how they feel after those 10 burpees.

Step TWO: Once they’ve recovered, have them do 10 burpees as fast as they possibly can.

Then, have them pay attention to how they feel after those 10 burpees.

If this isn’t how they feel after workouts, they’re not going fast enough.⠀


What you’re seeing (and they’re feeling) is doing the same amount of work in less time, and that’s how we get results.

A lot of people don’t go hard enough and think they need more.

More is not always better.

In fact, it can create a whole lot of problems.

What they need is education on intensity. And then, they need to move from “knowing” to “doing” by actually maintaining intensity in their workouts.

Short story shorter: Make people push. That’s your job.⠀

It’s Not the Program. It’s Your Behavior.

Pat Barber Coaching, Competitions, GPP

This one’s for the WOD addicts, the fitness junkies, the two-a-dayers who never stop.

You’re probably not going to like what I have to say, but I’m saying it anyway with as much kindness as I can muster. Because someone needs to hold you accountable and to remind you to take responsibility for your own life.

If you’re burnt out, don’t jump to blaming CrossFit or your program before you self-reflect on your behavior.

Was a coach or program what truly led to burn out?

Or was it a series of choices and actions that you made?

Why do you feel like you need so much volume? What void are you trying to fill with fitness?

Just something to think about as we head into competition season.

If You See Something, Say Something

Janet Navarrette Coaching

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.

Confrontation
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.

Confidence
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.

Downright Laziness
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!

When a Member Says “There’s Not Enough Strength Work”

Pat Barber Coaching, GPP

Are you hearing complaints from members that your program doesn’t spend enough time on strength training?

This video is for non-biased programmers and facilities who have members who want a strength-biased program.

For coaches of WUWO or fellow GPP programs: We go into much more detail about why we’re a non-biased program and how to handle common criticisms (especially when switching from a strength + metcon model) on this page: Why We’re a Fitness-Biased Program.

This is a topic we’re particularly passionate about, which you’ll probably pick up on while reading our other blog posts on GPP programming.