3 Tips for Coaches from an Invictus Master Coach
Written by Kirsten Ahrendt
#1 – “Don’t do all the coaching in the warm-up.”
This is a piece of advice that I heard in my first year at Invictus when I was trying extra hard to be a better coach and deliver more value. In doing so, my warm-ups began running long. This feedback has stuck with me and spurred me to be much more creative in my coaching. Clients will only remember so much of the teaching and drilling that coaches perform in a warm-up. Understand how to lay the ground-work and fundamental elements you want to emphasize in the warm-up (one or two things) and then continue to layer in feedback and nuance to the individual or group during part A and B when members are in the midst of “doing” and able to immediately incorporate additional feedback.
#2 – You won’t ever know everything. You can still be an effective coach.
Stay in this game long enough and commit to some continuing education, and you’ll realize the human body is beyond complex. Getting to the root of problematic movement, injury, or athletic potential can be influenced by a multitude of factors – and every methodology and guru is here to tell you “THIS IS THE WAY”. Becoming consciously aware of all the things you don’t (and likely won’t) fully comprehend can be overwhelming or even paralyzing if you allow it. Aim to continue to gain deeper understanding and knowledge while simultaneously delivering value and guidance today with what you know now. To this day, I’ve never met a coach that “knew it all”, but I’ve had many coaches that have influenced and helped me to grow.
#2A. You can’t fix it all in one class.
Don’t conflate impactful coaching with coaching perfect movement. The aim is to decrease the amplitude of movement error in your clients over time. When we are new to coaching or work in a highly demanding atmosphere, we can get caught up in trying to make our classes look “perfect” as a reflection of our coaching skills. That’s your ego talking. You can’t fix all movement errors in one 60-minute class, and if you try you’ll end up diluting your coaching impact. Accept some (appropriately safe) errors in the context of “better” not “perfect”. One strategy I use to balance my desire to improve movement without overcoaching is to identify a coaching focus dependent on the specifics of the day’s programming. I center my warmup selections, cueing and language in the whiteboard brief around a singular point of performance. This focus for the class tends to clean up other movement faults, and gives everyone (coach and members) a clear objective to measure improvement around.
#3. Be you
Another lesson learned within my first year at Invictus. Possibly the cheesiest of advice but my most frequently given to new hires and interns. A natural part of growth and learning is mimicry. We mimic the styles, methods, drills, and language of our favorite coach mentors because we look up to them and how effective they are as coaches. Learn, borrow, and incorporate their skills and tools – but aim to incorporate them into your own style. You can’t coach just like them because you aren’t them. The vice versa is true – they aren’t you – lean into that. You’ll be more fulfilled and authentic and your gym community will experience greater variety.