As coaches, trainers, and therapists we’re inherent fixers. We love to see a problem, offer an intervention, and see the positive outcome. Its like crack or some shit. Sometimes, however, it makes us verbose and overbearing—we say too much and we try to correct too much. And, sometimes, as we offer those corrections we don’t even have a clear objective in mind. We just need to fix something to prove our value to ourselves and to our clients. It’s an immature thought process that we need to eliminate… and using this pillar of the paradigm is the practical way to squash it.
It begins with some upfront work—defining our movements, knowing our cues, creating the right environment, and understanding the person in front of us—but when we get that work done it pays dividends ten fold.
We all know what a squat is and how to cue it. The early Faction lessons sharpened that spear. But can you define a squat and what it should look like to you? What should move—when and where? What should be still—when and where? It might sound like a pain in the ass, but writing this out, and defining the squat for yourself, improves your ability to clearly identify what you’re looking for in the moment that you’re coaching. You can tell if everything is spot on, or if something looks slightly askew. You can move from Gestalt to Fault much faster.
The ability to clearly articulate, to ourselves, and write down what something should look like enhances our ability to visualize it in the moment because as we write our definition we have to continually visualize a good and a bad movement as we pen every line. We become absolutely sure of what we want, and how to modify for individuals, in a super hurry. We’ve done all the thinking up front, so we don’t have to think as much in the moment.
So, here’s what to do:
Get out your list of all the main movements that you do and define them. Start with the big guys—the squat, the hinge, the push, the pull—and then, on a needs basis so that you’re working with context, define the rest of your movement rolodex. It’s going to take time and effort, but you’ll have much better identification skills for it.
Create the Environment
If you don’t have to talk, don’t. And if you do have to talk, use as few words as possible and make sure they pertain to the current context. (Context, context, context…there it is a few more times just in case you haven’t read it enough. But it’s important, so keep reading it.) Most of your talking work is done in the early going of working with a client. It’s a learning environment—so the client must think more and we have to give them the context in which to think. This is when we introduce the cues that they can internalize, and it’s when we deepen their understanding of the movements and their outcomes. We create an internal environment that allows them to coach themselves. That way, in the moment when they’re performing, we only have to give them brief reminders—using the coaching mantras—or have a context-filled discussion between sets. Communication then becomes succinct, and takes place mainly internally for the client. The goal is always to prepare clients to coach themselves and create the input that helps them understand. Some folks are visual, and others are more kinesthetic. Some are auditory, but need the information in small chunks and between action. No matter the input, the outcome is to create the internal environment that allows people to coach themselves. That’s how they ascend toward mastery.
Let the First Rep Suck…Only Make One Change
As part of our inherent fixer problem, we jump in too early with corrections when, in reality, that first fuck up is valuable. Letting the first rep suck gives folks an understanding of what bad feels like which makes it easier for them to contrast what good feels like. This makes it easier for them to internalize the environment and coach themselves. The caveat, however, is safety. If someone is likely to get hurt, then we intervene. But, if it just looks like a less than stellar rep, let it ride. If you’ve done a good job building context up to that point, you follow up with a quick intervention between the reps—part of, or a whole, mantra, a quick kinesthetic cue, something else you’ve developed to intervene. Then, after the change is made and the set completed, follow up with a question. Something like, “What did you like about that set?” Then after that answer, contrast using something like, “Did you feel how what you liked contrasted with the first rep?” By letting the first rep suck, giving a small cue between reps, and then following up with questions, you helped the client coach himself or herself.
We also must patiently make only one change at a time. Trying to change an entire movement during one set is not only unrealistic, it’s overwhelming for the client. Use your Gestalt to Fault process, find your big ticket item, and attack that. It might clear up the whole movement. If it doesn’t, move on to the next priority down the chain between the next reps or after the set. If we can change one thing per set, or rep, by the end of a training session we can overhaul an entire movement. We just have to turn down the volume knob on our inherent fixer and be patient.
Define your movements. Sharpen your Gestalt to Fault skills.
Teach a lot up front in the learning environment so you don’t have to talk as much when clients are performing.
Use your mantras.
Let the first rep suck.
Cue one change between reps or sets.
Follow up with questions so that clients can internalize the contrast between good and bad.
In 2010, two dudes Chris and Todd, started the business that would eventually become Strength Faction.
You know how they say the rest is history? Well, it’s not.