Coach’s Corner: Bad Day at the Open?

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by RICK SCARPULLA

Coach's Corner: Bad Day at the Open?
Being a coach is a great position when all is well in your athlete’s world — things tend to run smoothly and easily, and there is an easy rhythm to practice or training. You work hard, but there are smiles and laughter and success, so everyone feels all warm and fuzzy. There is not a tremendous amount of stress on the coaching front on those days, and it is easy to get a good night.

Yet all of a sudden, in one fell swoop, everything can change. The dreaded slump or a couple of bad games or — in this case — a rough run in an Open WOD.

So far these have been a difficult few WODs, extra tough for some athletes because they have included some of the tougher disciplines and lots of heavy volume — all of which is creating serious buzz on the web and forums along the Internet highway and next to water coolers around the world.

Room to Grow

So what’s the best approach if you are working with an athlete who has a bad performance or two and whose confidence is rapidly heading south?

For novices, “gains come faster at the newer levels than they do at the upper levels.”
First, remember that athletes, regardless of their level, are very temperamental; the less elite they are, the more temperamental they can be. The more advanced athlete has become more advanced on all fronts, including the mental part of their game, so he should be better equipped to deal with a bad performance or a slump. A less experienced athlete will be hit harder by a bad WOD more so than a firebreather. As a CrossFit coach in a local box, most of your athletes will be novice to intermediate level folks, and this is where you must help them.

You will probably have several ups and downs with them. It is a two-sided coin, so don’t despair: the fact that they are more novice means you will have lots of good times — gains come faster at the newer levels than they do at the upper levels. Goals are easier to hit when they are not as lofty.

The fixes are much easier to fix as well. Most of the time, less experienced athletes are facing common problems that you will see over and over, so your job is easier in that way. Also, correcting those entry-level mistakes help you become better at your craft, as this prepares you for tackling bigger challenges when you are dealing with a more elite athlete (which you will have more of as your box grows). It is a nice pattern of growth all the way around.

Yet here you are smack dab in the middle of a crisis. Your athlete feels as if his entire athletic world is a mess and is looking to you as the athletic leader for answers.

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