When I was in college I ran a humor magazine, and one of the most important lessons comedy has taught me is that you have to know your audience. Certain jokes/subject matter are not going to work with certain audiences. The majority of our athletes have simple needs:
- They want a great workout.
- They want to move better.
- If something on their body hurts, they want to know how to fix it.
“Keep It Simple”
I can’t name every single muscle, bone, ligament and tendon in the body, and I don’t need to. My athletes can’t name them all either, and I would never expect them to. What’s easier to understand: “Bring your scapula into retraction” or “Squeeze your shoulder blades together”? Speaking in plain language gets your message across 100 times better than if you try to impress everyone with your technical knowledge. Keep it simple. Show them what they need to do to correct the movement and tell them which parts of their body they need to engage to keep them moving correctly.
Let’s take the split jerk, for example. This is a technical movement with a lot of moving parts: Your feet have to go to a certain spot, you have to get the barbell overhead while simultaneously dropping down and catching it locked out and absorbing the weight with two big shock absorbers (your legs). You have to be fast and explosive. There’s a lot to not think about. Now I don’t want to bog down the athlete with too many cues (especially the newer athletes); I just want them to do the movement and make it look pretty. So, if I tell the athlete to give me their best Mary Katherine Gallagher, most people get it right away. (Sticking your hands in your armpits and smelling them afterward is optional.)
The point is this: plain language explanation works far better than technical jargon. You don’t have to talk to your athletes like they’re children (unless they are children), but you can’t talk to them like they’re all medical professionals, either. Find your common ground in explaining the uncommon.
Originally posted to the Blog of Larry Palazzolo on 08/06/13.