Reflections on CrossFit Level 2 and Gymnastics Training Courses

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Within the past two months I have taken (and passed!) the CrossFit Level 2 Certificate Course and CrossFit Gymnastics Specialty Course. Not a paid advertisement: these classes are AWESOME and well worth the time and money spent…if you apply the knowledge you gain. I was not alone, as fellow coaches from 907 CrossFit joined in both classes. These were deliberate training paths we planned for earlier in the year, taking advantage of locally available courses (Alaska does tend to host more classes than Hawai’i, or at least it seems like it). While our individual credentials get updated and coaching skillsets get enhanced, the additional benefit from the courses was the time spent brainstorming with other coaches on how to make our box and athletes even better. Both small and large ideas were shared and discussed, and here are two themes that stood out to me:

Coaching = Communication – The hallmark of an effective coach is knowing how to guide an athlete through learning a new skill. The challenge behind this task is that there is rarely a “one template applies to all” solution. Since our athletes come from different starting points in fitness, our job as their coach is to determine how to best communicate common standards of performance and create a plan of action within their current abilities. More importantly, we need to communicate in simple manner as to not overwhelm the athlete. Both of these classes equipped me with new skills to analyze both individual and groups of athletes, but it is up to me to apply the right skill in the simplest manner that will be effective in that moment. I have learned a multitude of new skills through both courses, but it is up to me to organize the application of these skills to yield effective results. The success of my coaching efforts will be based on the art and science of my ability to communicate effectively.

Focus on Fundamentals – One area we lack in providing for our athletes is an on-ramp or fundamentals course that cover the nine fundamental movements, mainly due to a lack of coach availability to dedicate the time to running a multi-week course. For the most part, the majority of our athletes come from a military background so we assume they have a minimal amount of physical fitness capacity. To remain inclusive, we allow everyone to join our classes and expect our coaching staff to evaluate and modify workouts accordingly. As a non-profit military affiliate, remaining inclusive has it’s pros and cons (of which I’ll list in a separate article) and we have still yielded success without a fundamental course. This option is consciously taken at the expense of ensuring all athletes start with an understanding of the fundamentals required for both safe and effective training in a controlled environment prior to “going live” in a normal class. This will not be the easiest or most popular decision, but we may have to take a pause on our normal programming and dedicate twelve sessions towards fundamentals. We know we have coaches available during our regularly scheduled classes, so why not use the time to host a fundamentals course? Another option is to run two or three longer classes on the weekend, yet there is a danger of overwhelming an athlete with too much information at once. Furthermore, this option is still dependent on coach availability. By merging fundamentals with the availability of our coaching staff, I believe this strategy will yield more long-term athletes that will understand how to properly execute movements during our normal programming.

Like I said earlier, application of newly gained knowledge is key to unlocking the value of attending these courses. Will I get them perfect on the first try? Probably not. Will I continue to refine my skills and rally our coaches and athletes to become better? Sure will. Bottom line, I attended these courses to become a better coach and leader, and the successful application of these skills are dependent on one simple word: ACTION.

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