Internal Vs. External Coaching Cues

Internal Vs. External Coaching Cues

            As a coach, it is critical that our internal psychi is displayed externally in a way that is intelligent, understandable, relative, and infinitely adaptable for our clientele. This applies not only to the members taking a class, but the clients we train on a personal level as well. Each of these athletes pay a significant amount of money for our coaching, thus our coaching should be no less than the best that it can be – we should be maximizing our potential as coaches. Between the internal conscious of our cues and the external display of such is a significant aspect: the processing of the internal cue. This is the most important aspect as it can make or break better movement for the client. This post will highlight the different factors of all of the above.

We should all have a vast array of cues for each different movement. Not just one cue for each movement, but multiple. Why? For two reasons: First, a certain cue may not click with a specific client, and thus the vocabulary of other cues will need to be called upon until the client finally gets it. Second, movements are complex; there are different parts to each movement. For example, the back squat. This brings up the objective of having multiple cues for each different part of the movement. There is an eccentric and concentric component to most of the movements we see in CrossFit, and each of these domains are worthy of their own set of cues.

This brings about another subject: Universal motor recruitment patterns. This is HUGE in the sport of fitness and is why something like the rower is critical for in depth instruction. The sequencing of rowing is the exact same of that of a clean, kettlebell swing, sumo deadlift high pull, and many other movements. The client deserves to know this so that they do not take movements, which may seem simple in retrospect, for granted. Explain this to the clientele and the transferability of one movement to the next. Not only how it transfers in the gym, but how it transfers to real life as well.

As mentioned before, these internal cues should be PROCESSED before being displayed. Cues should not be thought of in the moment, in an intense class setting, but the full concept of each cue should be grasped ahead of time so that when it is time to be displayed it is concrete in its nature. There is a such thing as adapting movement on the spot, but creating cues on the spot should be limited. If they are not, they lack processing and who knows the words that will come out of one’s mouth and if it will make any sense at all. This would be like publishing a book without having it edited and peer reviewed. Take the time to review and perfect your lexicon of cues.

This all relates to having an internal plan before executing such externally. The real execution is done in the process. As coaches, we indeed possess a lot of knowledge. This knowledge brings about complex terminology, most of the time anatomically, and should be dumbed down in the processing aspect for our clientele. Your client has no idea what to do when you tell them to retract their scapula, for example. In the processing phase of your cue this should simply be stated as “squeeze your shoulder blades.” There are multiple examples of this, but it is your job as a coach to make your cues relative and understandable. Clients need to focus on using their energy physically to move well and not use it mentally as they try to understand what you are saying. The more overwhelming – the less beneficial.

Also, your job as a coach is to read the workout the night before and come up with a plan for how you will execute it via coaching the next day. Winging it is never an option. You should never be reading the workout of the day for the first time as the class is also reading it for the first time. This all relates back to the internal plan. Executing such allows one to direct the class properly for the flow of such, leading to better time management in addition to better movement patterns for the athlete as their exercise progressions have already been processed the night before. If you don’t teach it, you can’t correct it. Evaluate in your head the night before what you will teach the day of, so that you limit your time correcting movement. If it is not taught to the clientele then they simply just do not know any better.

When it comes to coaching there is seeing, teaching, and correcting movement. This teaching and correcting is displayed in the form of visual, verbal, and tactile cues. As a coach, familiarize yourself with what works best for you as you process cues for your athletes. Continue to gain knowledge and insight into the information that is available for coaches, so that your potential is maximized. Increasing your knowledge will only increase the value and number of your internal cues, and thus gives you that many more opportunities to process them, and eventually display them in an effective manner. Internalizing cues is the first step to creating a lifetime of better movement for the people we have the blessing to interact with each day. If you have questions about resources for increasing your knowledge as a coach, just ask your fellow coaches – in addition, listen to your fellow coaches and see what you can learn from them.





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