If you want to learn just how screwed up you are, try coaching someone else.
All these little things you didn’t know about yourself come to the surface like bubbles in a lake. Things you don’t like. Surprising things you pushed down somewhere dark and creepy and tried to forget. To be a counselor, a friend of mine said, you have to deal with your own shit first. You can’t just go around giving advice with years of unresolved pain and hate.
“Everyone should be in counseling,” she said.
But we’re not. Instead of getting the help we may need, we hide behind touch screens and social media. We binge watch so we don’t have to talk. We find a way to be “busy” but never productive. And coaches are the worst.
We don’t need to be perfect, but we need to do better. As coaches, as teachers and instructors, we need to get off our asses and stop making the same mistakes we’ve been making since all this began.
Not giving credit
Shitty coaches feel like giving credit to others makes them look bad. They act like every idea is their own and pray that athletes never learn the truth; coach doesn’t know everything.
Rational humans, however, like it when credit is given where credit is due. Hell, they respect it. It means you’re still a student studying at the feet of those better than you. Celebrating someone else’s achievements, in fact, is about as freeing as it gets. Too bad some coaches will never know.
There are better coaches than me. Tons. Not only does that not scare me, it makes me happy. It means I can still get better. That I still have room to grow.
But most coaches don’t look at it that way. Instead of learning from the best, they gossip and complain, waste time and hate. And for what? Sensitive self-images? Fragile egos? Grow the #$%* UP! Coaching ain’t about you. It’s about them.
Coaching what isn’t theirs
When visitors travel to Practice CrossFit, we introduce them to the crew. We scale, adjust and workout together. And unless they’re reckless, unethical or criminal, we keep our hands off.
Athlete development is a long term plan with lots of landmarks. You can’t just go charging into battle without knowing who you’re fighting. But that’s exactly what most coaches do. Like some superhero swooping down from the sky, they plunge into what isn’t theirs and start overhauling the entire engine. Everyone wants to have the answer, right? Everyone wants to be a savior, right?
Too bad it doesn’t work that way. If anything it halts progress and creates confusion.
Before rushing to the tourist who’s just a bit off, ask yourself, is there a chance their hometown coach is trying to fix something specific? Might I mess everything up by sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong? Of course, you could say “well, they came to my gym, so I can do whatever I want.” And you’d be right. And an asshole. And woe to payback when it comes calling, friend.
It’s called professional courtesy, and it’s where you give another coach the benefit of the doubt as long as things are safe and everyone’s cool. Not only does this reinforce their hometown coach, but it also inspires the athlete to go back and work twice as hard as before.
I have nothing to prove, and neither do you. Remember that.
Accepting Box Jumpers
Sometimes a CrossFit athlete from another box calls asking for sanctuary.
I call them Box Jumpers; athletes who always seem to think the grass is greener somewhere else. Instead of outright turning these athletes away, Tyler invented a simple, one step transfer process. First, have your current coach call and tell us all about you.
“We just want to make sure we’re all on the same page,” we say.
And guess what, no one has jumped since.
If this seems harsh, then you’re a delicate snowflake who can’t handle difficult conversations. CrossFit is about community right? Do you really believe that, or is that just some bullshit you tell people to make yourself feel good? Because if you do believe, you damn sure wouldn’t be cool with accepting someone else’s fugitive. Most people I know call their CrossFit box family. Well, families stick together when things are rocky. Families constructively criticize each other. Families are honest. Families realize just how important every member is and do everything they can to keep other families together.
Does this affect the bottom line? Do we piss people off? No clue. I’m too busy coaching to care.
I was a professional at this for years. The more complex the workouts and the explanations, the better.
Talk about an ass!
Today we do a lot of push-ups at Practice CrossFit. Yup, push-ups. Why, because tons of athletes need them. Falling to the ground and not being able to push yourself up is scary as hell. We also squat a lot and get super sweaty with simple workouts. We snatch and muscle-up and all that shit too, but that’s the icing on a thick ass cake of basics.
There’s a reason why simple whiteboard workouts are the spiciest; they’re effective. And when it’s a choice between needlessly complicated, and simply effective, chose the latter.
Coaching to wants, not needs
I’ve lost more athletes by prescribing what they need over what they want than I care to remember.
And so what.
That’s the only way I can sleep at night. That’s what coaching is; doing the right thing, not the popular thing. Certainly not the easy thing. And you better get used to it because you’re never more alone than when you’re a coach. No one cares if you’re injured. No one cares if you’re overwhelmed or happy or sad or exhausted. No one says good job when you call “time” or notices when you’ve spent the last 12 hours listening to athletes complain about the workout, the diet, their spouse, job or kids. No one cares because it’s your fault. You chose to be a coach, now deal with it and get comfortable being alone. Or find something easy to do. Either way, get good at prescribing the thing people need most, often the very thing they want to do least. Even when they hate you for it.
Focused on the outcome
Fitness is about increasing our ability to do work. To know if our program is successful, we have to measure results. And that’s the problem.
All too often results become the driving force in our fitness career. That’s when we hurry, get hurt, become frustrated, lose interest and quit. Instead of falling in love with the process one day at a time, we focus on the scale and the barbell and the mirror. And we wonder why we feel so hollow.
Don’t ignore the feedback, embrace it. But realize fitness isn’t a fad or a goal; it’s a lifetime of building standards and practices we can rely on when we need them most.
The first and most complicated step in breaking bad habits is admitting there’s a problem. It’s also the most freeing. No more running. No more hiding. Just working.
Power cleans 95/135
*Recover 3 Minutes between workouts.
Post impression to comments and a food you liked as a kid, but don’t anymore.
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