As great as both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were/are, they never won anything without head coach Phil Jackson. The truth is, more often than not, behind every great athlete you’ll also find a great coach. Natural talent and ability, while also very important, will only take someone so far. In the end, countless hours of practice, critical analysis, and strategizing are what separate the truly great athletes from the rest of the pack. That is where coaching comes in. In my five years at CrossFit Kinnick I’ve encountered every possible kind of athlete. We’ve trained the entire spectrum of personalities ranging from your typical alpha male to your tranquil, silent introvert. Any type of personality can be successful at CrossFit though, just so long as one critical criteria also be met: coachability (yes, it is a word. I checked). Because CrossFit workouts are so intense, it is incredibly important to be as efficient as possible for as long as possible. Great coaching will keep you using all of the necessary muscles and joints, and in the proper progressions, for the entirety of a workout. That means faster times and heavier weights. Unfortunately, not everyone is as coachable as they’d like to think. The good news is anyone can become coachable by adopting 3 basic traits. So what are they?
- Humilty. Stay humble. Except the fact that you don’t know everything we do. We’ve been in the game for 6 years now. Along the way we’ve picked up important, subtle pieces of information and experience that have turned us into experts on the topic. We are more than willing to pass that information along, but you have to be willing to defer to our knowledge. We know more than you! Humility can also refer to your attitude after getting crushed by a workout, or by your inability to perform a specific movement. No one is great at everything. And if someone is, it’s because they spent a long time working on weaknesses. The second you recognize and accept your weaknesses is the moment you will will finally be ready to improve them.
- Passion. Be a go-getter but want to be better for the sake of being better. If CrossFit is something that you truly enjoy doing you’ll start to see your performances skyrocket. But, like those businesses that fail because their only goal is making money, if making it to the CrossFit Games is your sole purpose behind CrossFitting, your performances and passion will be sorely lacking. Don’t simply perform the lifts/movements. Rather, become students of them. Learn the ins and outs of each because you’re fascinated by optimizing and improving motor patterns. Become a nerd! This isn’t high school. Nerds are cool.
- Trust. Show some faith in your coaches. You are paying for a service after all. It doesn’t make a ton of sense to not take advantage of it. I found a great quote in an article on coachability by August Turak of Forbes. He says, “The problem with life is that it must be lived forward and only understood backwards…the benefits of change are often only obvious after the change has occurred…[but] the false pride that prevents us from “stooping” to the humble role of “follower” is far more dangerous than incompetent teaching.” How can you reap the benefits of coaching if you don’t put your faith in us at least for a little while? Let us show you what we have to offer. I promise we won’t disappoint.
The above items are things you must change internally. They may also take some time depending on how close, or far away, you are from them currently. If you’re looking for more of a quick fix, below are some simple things you can start doing to help make yourself a more coachable athlete today.
- Work hard, but pay attention. No, I’m not talking about remembering the rep scheme or the order of operation for your workout (though that will also make your trainers very happy), I’m talking about being able to decipher the advice and corrections from your coach amidst all of the yelling, grunting, and excitement happening around you. Yes, blocking everything out so that you only hear the music can be great for a simple, grind-it-out workout, but not for a workout that requires strategizing and top-notch technique. You must learn to stay focused on what you are doing, but to also filter out the voice of your coach so that you may incorporate their specific advice mid-workout. This will come in handy especially during competitions. Making adjustments before breaking down physically and mentally will make all of the difference in the world. Learn to multi-task. Work hard, but keep your ears open. This means no headphones while working out.
- Part ways with your original game plan. We all go into a workout with a specific strategy we feel will maximize our score by playing to our specific strengths. Rarely, though, do we ever finish a workout with that same plan still going strong. S@#t happens. A good coach will come up with a new way for you to attack the remainder of the workout. That’s what we are doing when we come by and say “go with sets of 5 now with short breaks in between”. You’ve never heard us say that before? It’s probably because you weren’t following point #1!
As coaches/trainers, we want you to succeed. We’ll do everything in our power to make that happen, but lots of what we do is dependent upon how you receive it. Only a coachable athlete will reach their full athletic potential.
The question then is, are you coachable?
Turak, August. “Are You Coachable? The Five Steps to Coachability.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 30 Sept. 2011. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.