Coaching is much more than just opening the doors of the gym, scribbling the workout on the whiteboard, starting the clock, and saying “3,2,1, go!” Coaching is about creating an impactful experience for your clients that improves them both physically and emotionally. Your ability to do this in a meaningful way can make or break the success of your gym or business.
Here are the four biggest mistakes coaches can make in the gym:
1. Not Giving a Shit
Pardon our French, but coaches need to care about and be invested in the people they are trying to help. If you are coaching because you want to make money, you are in the wrong business! People do this because they have a genuine passion for the people they are working with, and sincerely believe in the effectiveness of what they are doing and they potential of their clients. Coaches need to engage their athletes to get more out of them. You want to continually drive better movement and more intensity. If you just find yourself as a timekeeper or DJ in the gym, you are not doing your job. Every athlete should get personalized specific instruction in workouts. Use your athletes’ names and make eye contact with them. Follow up with them after the workout. Know the names of their spouses and kids. If you make your athletes your family, you will have clients for life and the best marketing anyone could ask for. Coach like your life depends on it, because for those of you that do this as a career…it does!
2. Using the “Pom-Poms” Too Much
Cheering people on has a time and place but you are not a rep counter or fan club. Your job is to draw the very best out of your athletes that day, keep them safe, and keep them progressing. Most of the time this means refining mechanics and managing the speed or weight. So if you find yourself saying “ You can do it!”, “Great job!”, and “Here we go!” you are not really coaching you are just somewhat motivating.
3. Over-Coaching Athletes
The balance of giving too much information or not enough can depend on the ability level and skill-specific knowledge of the athlete. But it you find yourself trying to fix multiple things on an athlete without really getting any results, you are probably over-coaching. Most athletes can only think about one thing at a time. Make your coaching idiot proof. Speak in a language that is relevant to the athlete, without too many conceptual terms or coaches jargon. Speak to the lowest common denominator without giving a lecture on the movement.
4. Coaching In the Negative
Let’s say that you are doing your job well. You know what to look for in movement, you recognize errors. Now the job is finding an efficient way to fix it, this means finding the right language or drills to improve the movement. Over the years, you will create an inventory good “fixes” that seem to work well most of the time. But if that inventory has not been created yet, you may find yourself just telling the athlete what they are doing wrong. This can often discourage the athlete and fail to yield improvement.
Coaching is a journey and has so many similarities to training. No one starts off an amazing coach, just like no one start off a world-class athlete. Knowing your weaknesses and spending the time on the floor developing skills is how you succeed. Nothing replaces practical experience.