If you want to be good at coaching a Crossfit class then you must also be good at assessing people on the fly. I have an hour to safely run a group of anywhere between 5 to 15 members of varying ability through the workout of the day. For the class to run smoothly I must immediately begin to assess what types of issues members of that class are going to have so that I can predetermine who is going to need to scale what movements.
I find that for a Crossfit class the best time for nit picking is during the roughly 15 min warm-up. Something that helps me find peoples problem areas is setting them up for failure. What I mean by this is that there are some things I can have my class do in a warm up and before I even ask them to do it I already know that the majority of people are going to screw it up. And I know that this is going to set me up to be able to go around and correct people quickly because I already know what I’m looking for. So really I’m setting the class up for success. For example one of the movements I use to set people up for failure is an offset overhead lunge with a light kettle bell. This is where you press a kettle bell overhead and hold it there with a nice solid externally rotated shoulder and then step forward into a lunge with the opposite leg. Right off the bat I find out who has thoracic issues, shoulder mobility issues and many other things. I can also explain to people what external shoulder rotation is and tell them about having a good overhead position. Then in the future when I tell them to have a good overhead position they know what I want them to do.
Another thing that helps with assessing and correcting people while maintaining class continuity is understanding that variety is not always best when it comes to your warm up. If you are constantly doing different things in your warm up then you cannot use that time to try and correct peoples deficiencies. I go back to the offset overhead lunge. If I only throw that movement in there once and a blue moon then I can never expect to see any improvement in it and I will see the same errors in the same members every time. So by always having this in my warm-up I can see whose mobility is improving. Also it allows me to tell people specific things for them to do on their own and then they can see how it pays off as they begin to get better at the movement they are doing every time they attend class. By keeping your warm-up generally the same not only can you control the areas people are gaining proficiencies in but you can keep the class running smooth when there is a member that needs a little extra attention. Every now and then you might get a drop in or a newer member that is having some trouble and by having the rest of the class already familiar with the movements the class can continue while you correct that individual. Where as if you are constantly switching things up then you might end up with the entire class needing a lot of individual help. I know people will get bored with doing the exact same warm- up every time they attend class so I recommend picking a few of your favorite movements that people typically need to improve upon and always having them in there and then putting other new and fun things in around that.
These are a few of the strategies I use when coaching my crossfit classes to quickly asses and correct people on the fly while keeping the class running on schedule. Although I am constantly assessing and correcting people through out the entire length of the class I find that the warm-up is the best time to really try and find individuals problem areas and work on them so they can get the most out of being members of our gym.Nathan Wilson is a Crossfit and strength and conditioning coach at Derby City Crossfit/Darkside Strength and Conditioning. Nathan is currently training to compete in the sport of Crossfit. Although he has only just recently begun training for Crossfit as a sport, he served four years in the Marines as a scout sniper where he was introduced to some Crossfit workouts in his training. Since it is only Nathan’s first full year of training his first goal is to make it to the central east regional Crossfit competition this year in 2013. Facebook, YouTube