9 Things you should expect to get from your CrossFit coach

Do you feel like you’re getting enough from your CrossFit coach? Enough physical coaching, enough emotional support? Enough value for your dollar?

I have spent 8-plus years as a CrossFit athlete and nearly 7 as a coach. I'm not the perfect athlete, and certainly not the perfect coach, but here’s a list of thing important qualities I think make up the kind of coach I know I’d like to have…

9. The Why?

Sometimes coaches get you to do movements and drills that might seem a little strange. Instead of wondering, “Why am I throwing this medicine ball against the wall over and over in between sets of pull-ups,” you should be comfortable asking why.

“Why am I doing this? Why is this useful? How is this helping my fitness?” And in return, your coach should be able to articulate why he or she is prescribing certain movements, reps, warm-up drills, accessory work, or cool down pieces.

There should be a carefully thought-out method behind the madness, and if there isn’t, you might want to reconsider whether you’re receiving the best possible coaching.

8. Even if it hurts your feelings…

Your coach should always be able to tell you where you’re at, even if it’s not what you want to hear.

“No, you’re not ready to learn a muscle-up yet,” might piss you off, but it should anger you less if he/she can provide a solution to help you become ready to learn a muscle-up.

While some people want their coach to be their cheerleader, the best coaches—the ones that will bring you results—focus less on motivating and cheerleading and more on providing you with an honest feedback and plan of attack, even if it hurts your ego when you hear, “You’re not going to make it to Regionals within a year.”

Socializing with clients also goes a long way...

7. Regular check-ins

I personally believe regular check-ins with your coach should come in the form of a one-on-one personal training session. Or maybe some additional individual programming or weakness training. Though you might be coached by various coaches each week, having one coach in particular that you turn to whenever you need some extra help will provide a certain amount of trust and consistency in your fitness development.

For me, the best coaches are the ones who assume a role like a doctor or accountant in his/her clients’ lives. The same way many of us have the same doctor, dentist or financial planner our entire lives, our coach should be someone we have a relationship with for life—someone we actively work with to help manage our constantly evolving health and wellness.

While not mandatory, clients also enjoy receiving cakes on their birthdays

6. Veteran love

If you’re a veteran who moves as well as most of the coaches at your gym, this doesn’t mean your coach should just forget about you. Even if you have been cleaning and jerking and rope climbing for 10 years, you’re never too good to receive technical cues. You're allowed to be disappointed if you aren't receiving much feeback anymore. 

 

5. Open ear

Your coach should be willing and open to hear your feedback about what he/she can work on. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching your coach with a problem or challenge you’re having, he/she might not be the best fit for you.

4. In the moment

It goes without saying, whether you’re doing a group class or a one-on-one session, your coach should be giving you his full attention. If your coach is on his phone, or socializing or swinging a golf club in the corner of the gym when you’re paying for his time, you might want to consider bringing up the issue.

3. Up-to-date

Like any other profession based on science, you should expect your coach to continually educate himself—be it formally through seminars or courses, or more informally and independently. Stagnation kills when it comes to something as ever changing as theories about fitness and the human body.

 

2. A good push

Your coach should know you and your abilities as well or better than yourself. Because of this, you should expect him/her to push you to do things you didn’t think you had in you—to help you conquer fears you didn’t know you could.

Because there is nothing like the satisfying feeling of doing something you didn’t think you’d ever do...

1. Emotional support

While I don’t think a coach should be expected to be your psychologist, I do think a coach needs to know his athletes well enough to recognize the days they might need a little more love. I know I have aborted workouts with stressed out, emotionally distraught clients before, to go for coffee or a walk around the block instead. And I know I have appreciated the days when my coach recognized I was struggling and changed the workout plan to match what I could give him on that day.

While the gym is a place you go for physical workouts, what’s going to keep you around to work on your fitness for years to come aren't the workouts themselves, but the way the gym makes you feel. Working with the right coach for you is a great place to start!