What Makes A Good Coach

I kind of feel like I am taking a risk here. I’m going to step out on a limb and talk about separates a good Crossfit coach from a not so good Crossfit coach.  If you were to sit down and write an article on what makes a stand out person in your chosen profession, you better be ready to back it up!  So here we go. 

First and foremost, something we talk about among staff at the gym is how much more than a “coach” our coaches are.  Webster’s defines “coach” simply as “one who instructs or trains”.  While this definition serves it’s purpose, it’s a fairly broad stroke and leaves a lot of things unaddressed. An excellent Crossfit coach cares!  Yes, of course we care about your progression on your fitness journey. More than that, they care about you as a person. They get it!  A lot of us invest more than just “stretch, warm up, wod, leave” in our Crossfit endeavour. A good coach does the same.  There is a connection and a genuine care for each athlete in their class. That stretches beyond just your safety and progression inside the gym. That coach will celebrate your victories with you and will be there to help you through the defeats.

A good coach will keep you safe. This has been expressed to our coaches in the gym as priority one; and rightfully so.  At 306, we pride ourselves on offering one program. If an elite level athlete walks in to our gym, they will perform the workout as it is wrote on the whiteboard without need to “make it harder”.  The other end of the spectrum is, if someone walks into our gym and has never touched a weight, gone for a run or done any type of purposeful physical activity in their life, our coaches will scale and adjust that workout so they get can perform it safely!  They will still get the desired stimulus and will leave feeling accomplished, challenged, and sweaty. A good coach will be able to assess your level of competence in a given movement and be able to adjust intensity, volume and/or load to have you achieve the desired results of the workout safely and effectively. 

A good coach will make the class fun. Ultimately, the gym is a business. It provides income for many people. If you come to a few classes and never have any fun, how long do you think you are going to stick around and keep coming back?  This isn’t so good for business.  A good coach will make the class enjoyable, while at the same time progressing you as an athlete. They should facilitate and lead in making connections within the class amongst the participants. Encouraging an open and inviting environment to everyone in the group.  This includes new faces.  That coach may have to spend a little extra time making sure a new face feels extra welcomed, extra safe and has a little extra attention while going through the workout. A good coach does this without making the other members feel like they are getting any less attention than usual!

While certainly not any less important, but mentioned last for a reason, a good coach will help you progress in your fitness. If you are not being scaled appropriately and are always injured, will you progress as an athlete?  If you are not enjoying your time spent in the gym and don’t want to be there, will you continue to come and invest the time?  Those two things are all part in parcel of helping you progress and be better!  A good coach will also be able to challenge you, push you appropriately and motivate you to improve. A good coach doesn’t need to be a Game level athlete (thank goodness!).  A good coach understands the movements athletes perform in class. They know how to demonstrate (this can include usually other athletes who move well), how to cue and how to correct.  There is a “why” behind each cue or technique change. A good coach understands this, can make sense of it and then explain that purpose. That coach helps their athletes move with purpose with the end goal of increasing their fitness level. 

One quick point. A “great” coach never stops learning. If your coach has all the answers, I would begin to question the feedback they are giving you.  A good coach strives to remember everything they have learned. In my opinion, a great coach remembers what they have learned but is constantly improving to be better for their athletes.  There is constant growth within the fitness world. New findings, suggestions, studies and thoughts are being put out there every day. The constant development needs to be followed or you will simply be left behind.  A great coach continues to develop themselves so they can continue to develop you. 

There it is.  I am going to stop there for now before I dig myself too big a hole haha!  Obviously, I could keep going on here. If you are a coach, hopefully you read this and can check all the boxes. If you would like to one day coach, there’s some food for thought on what will help you be successful. If you are an athlete, I hope your coach meets your needs by being more than just a body standing at the front reading off workout and turning you lose.  

Happy fitnessing people. Happy fitnessing!