Coaching 101: Your Words Speak Volumes

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by REBECCA BILODEAU
[W]hat you say as a coach matters. When all of your athletes go home, they remember everything that you said to them.
I’ve been an athlete all my life. I started out with basketball in the yard as a little kiddo, and then spent high school as a cheerleader and as part of the water polo team. I fell off the earth as far as sports are concerned in college, but fell in love with CrossFit shortly after I got married. My husband is a CrossFit coach, so I became addicted by association.

About 8 months into my CrossFit obsession, it became time to find a new box for a whole lot of reasons that require an article all by themselves, but I found a new location close to work that fit me perfectly. The community was awesome, the WODs sucked like they should, and the price was the cheapest in the area. It was love at first WOD.

So here I am now, about two months in to my new box. Some of the people cheat their reps, some of the people have real ass-backwards form, some of the programming is a piece of shit, but for the most part I love it. I am working my ass off to be the best CrossFitter I can be.

Coaching And Progress At Odds

Get rid of the standards and just push your athletes to improve. Erase the limits. Create tough obstacles. Erase the stereotypes.
So, what’s the problem? Here’s the deal: Coaches. Can. Not. Prevent. Progress.

Let me rephrase that. Coaches should not prevent progress for their athletes. Now I know what you’re thinking: would a true CrossFit coach ever really do that? Well, not on purpose, but it happens.

On this particular day, we were getting ready to do 10×3 of back squats to get as heavy as possible. Great, I thought. I love me some heavy squats! I’ve got that big strong butt and great legs that I never truly appreciated until I started CrossFit. I could squat all day, every day, if my legs would let me. Needless to say, I came to the box pumped.

Our box has only three squat racks. No big deal. We usually just separate and get our squat on, taking turns as necessary and adjusting the weight for each other as we go along. We work well perfectly fine and push one another as we see fit. We are really a self-sufficient sort of group, but here were the coach’s directions:
“Heavy lifters on this rack, other guys here, and all the girls over there.”

Okay, so we may have ended up divided that way anyways, but all I could think was, “Wait, where do I go? What if I’m a heavy lifter and a girl… Where’s that squat rack?”

What’s a girl to do? I followed directions and headed over to the girl squat rack, like a nice little girl. We had ten sets, so of course all of the girls are starting at 65 pounds. Okay, I can warm up at that. Fine with me. And then we made a big heavy increase…to 70. For the next set. I was already totally over this girl’s only rack deal. (I have a whole over slew of things I could say about chicks that do heavy squats at 70 pounds when they should be at 155, but that is a whole other article as well.)

[I]f my coaches are not on my side, pushing me to be that much better in whatever way possible, how am I supposed to stay motivated…?
Screw protocol. Screw whatever the f***ing directions were. I went over to the “non-heavy man rack” or whatever it should be called and joined in on their lifting. They had to take weight off for me so I could really warm up at 135. And sure, for every round they had to remove their second 45 plates so I could add my 25s. And sure, I was the only chick over with the boys and the girls looked like they were having so much fun giggling over in the corner. But you know what? I got my heavy 10×3 heavy squats done and I kicked some ass!

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