What to Expect From a Level 2 Cert

By Tommy Hackenbruck

In Coaching, Videos

November 25, 2009

Video Article

Tommy Hackenbruck is an accomplished athlete who’s looking to make his mark as a trainer, too. Hackenbruck, a former linebacker at the University of Utah, finished second to Mikko Salo at the 2009 CrossFit Games, and now he’s tackling another test: the CrossFit Level 2 Certification.

His first time taking the Level 2, Hackenbruck didn’t have a lot of experience training and struggled with a few of the more complex movements. This time around, Tommy is prepared and ready for the rigorous evaluation.

Elite HQ trainer Adrian (Boz) Bozman explains what evaluators are looking for in Level 2 candidates and talks about Tommy’s performance at both certs.

At the end of the cert, Hackenbruck is proud to be both the World’s Second-Fittest Man and a certified Level 2 CrossFit trainer.

5min 28sec

Additional reading: Muscling Through It by Dave Whitty, published May 1, 2009.



10 Comments on “What to Expect From a Level 2 Cert”


wrote …

Amazing video! I think we should see more videos from Hi 5!! Good job Tommy, sorry I always mess with you. It's just so much fun! Moody...we love you!


wrote …


I was one of the test subjects at your Level 2 and thought you did a great job. Congratulations brother, you earned it!


Kevin Wood wrote …

Here is my opinion/experience on the Level 2 cert.

I recently attended a Level 2 cert in Toronto. To prepare, I followed the advice of CFHQ by doing the following: Attain Level 1, attend multiple Level 1's (been to 4 now), attend a CrossFit Kid's cert, be a test subject at a Level 2 and train CrossFit for 6 months to a year (it's been almost 2 for me now).

Also, my background includes degrees in Kinesiology and Education, with 5 years of teaching experience. I've been CrossFitting for 3 years as well.

I read all the study material over, studied the videos, and read every journal article out there.

I thought I was fully prepared.

During the debrief, I was told that I didn't pass by 2 marks. Disappointing? Yes. But I was there to learn. One of my deductions came from my hip not fully opening during one demonstration of a push jerk. None of the participants corrected me on that all weekend, and neither did the instructors. Guess it was a fluke...but one that I got docked for.

I also lost a mark for not seeing someone's stance too wide in a deadlift and bending his knees too soon on the descent.

I can assure you now, that everyone at my gym now opens their hips and has bomb proof deadlifts.

There is one thing that shocked me in my debrief. I was told that my teaching of the skills were spot on. I used creative cues that worked. People were engaged. I was comfortable in front of the group and confident in my abilities. However, I only scored a 9, out of a score between 3 and 15 (for those that are unaware, you need to have six 9's to pass - or a total of 54 points). If my teaching ability was only a 9, then why all the praise? I didn't receive any feedback on how to increase that 9 to a higher score, even after asking them.

I was also shocked at the high fail rate - 89%. I heard it was around 50-60%, but I wasn't prepared for 15 out of 17 failing. There were a lot of stellar trainers there. But, it is what it is.

I do have some recommendations for HQ in preparing people for the L2. I would like to see video examples of what constitutes a score of 3, 9, 15, etc. with regards to each of the assessment criteria. That way, we know what to aim for. I want to know what a trainer at a 3 level looks like, compared to a 15 level trainer.

A recent addition to the journal has been "You be the trainer". That mainly deals with programming. I would like to see videos posted of people performing a movement and we would have a chance to comment on it as to what we would correct. After a period of time, an L2 instructor would post what the appropriate responses/corrections would be.

Since getting back from the L2, my members have been drilled on their form. I have become more relentless with faults, no matter how minor. Hopefully I will nail the next L2 cert that I attend.


wrote …

My Level 2 experience was incredible. I worked very close with 2 HQ staff trainers for a few weeks prior to my L2 attempt. I still didn't pass...was it worth it? As you could tell in the video, I said "HECK YA" and that still hasn't changed. I learned what I needed to improve upon in being more relentless as a coach. This allows me to go back to the box I train at, and hone in on my skills and improve upon them, and learn from all the wonderful feedback.

The scoring system is interesting yes...but it's up to the discretion of the HQ staff running the cert as to wether your performance is stellar or beyond...if its not stellar....your not getting bonus points (as they refer to them at the cert). Even when it's stellar you still may not have been deserving of the 'bonus points'. SO WHAT ... Its a wonderful EGO check, and an even better reminder that as trainers we ALWAYS need to be learning and improving upon ourselves and then transferring that positivity to our clients.

Never be satisfied, THERE IS ALWAYS room for improvement. Regardless if the performance was stellar or less than par.



Kevin Wood wrote …

I just noticed the CrossFit Coaches Prep Course on the main page. Great addition!


wrote …

What would be better, going to the level 2 or the new coaches prep crouse?


wrote …

Tommy, congrats on the L2 and awesome to hear how you took the initiative to learn from your past experience. Shows your dedication as a trainer and coach. Wish I could have been there to see the improvement! Keep up the great coaching.


wrote …

Congrats Tommy! This was a great video. At my box we're really tight on form and we stop any type of fault but this video makes me want to practice, practice and practice!

thank for this!


wrote …

I attended my first L2 last week. Passed, score 58. Hi score was Teaching (12), low was Seeing (8). This was a uniform trend for the group. 3 of 15 passed. All attendees were military types with 10 or more years experience working with groups of people in various training venues. We all thought that would be a tremendous benefit in our favor. My experience is 2x L1 certs within the last year, kettlebell, nutrition, and barbell certs. CrossFitting since 2004.
Our approach was to memorize the script, ala emergency procedures. That only led to a state of conscious competence, not even approaching virtuosity. Our dilema was evident on the first day when Boz gave a free and unscripted demonstration of how to teach the squat. Beautiful, elegant, complete, but the response from the group was beads of sweat, furrowed brows, wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Error #1, locking yourself into a script. This gives you an internal focus, and is a HUGE impediment to seeing. Moreover, it will in all likelyhood prevent you from getting the group moving and into the progressions expeditiously.
As the day went on with lectures, it became clear that the points of performance, progressions, and seeing errors was critical, not moving through the script. Why wasn't this apparent from the start? We were probably victims to our checklist mentality. If you show me a checklist or a systems diagram, I am going to memorize it. We had six months of prep time, most of which was spent in individual preparation and memorization. We needed to coach and be coached, and work on the movements, not the dialogue.
Like Kevin Woods, I studied all the L2 stuff that was out there, and yet I was not as prepared as I would have liked to be. I watched Nicole's video on perspicacity. I watched Jason and Joe talk about how hard the L2 is. I have been doing this stuff for five years. So, what's the issue?
Error #2, and sing along if you know the words to this one, the athlete who coaches himself has an idiot for a client. If you don't have a coach (as distinguished from a peer) murderboarding your performance, you are treading water, marking time, and probably wasting the time of anyone you are "coaching." Get someone to regularly look at your style, form, and content. And by someone, I mean a guy like Coach Rut, or someone with similar experience. (for the record I did not see Coach Rut, wish I had!)
Lastly, I am part of a non-profit affiliate (Iron Major CrossFit) started by a great American, Dave Maxwell, Major USA . In this capacity I have the opportunity to coach a great many people in the foundational movements. I thought I was a good coach, happy with some progress, we'll get there someday. Problem was, these people weren't paying me. They did not demand results. I was not resonsible for their health. This L2 taught me that everyone you coach is your client. You must treat every athelete as if their livelyhood depends on your instruction.
And that's error #3, lack of investment. Tell me if you've heard this one before, It's not about you! Focus on the client/athlete. See errors one and two. Treat every athlete you coach as if their contract with the Detroit Lions (ever hopeful) hangs in the balance.
Enough for now. I am still reflecting on my experience, and if I think of more insightful info I'll pass it along. Boz, Pat, and Speal were consummate professionals, and I greatly appreciated their tutelage. Thanks for comong to Fort Leavenworth, and we will have you back soon.


wrote …

Wow! I probably do not deserve to post here, but I will anyway.
I just attended and passed an L1 cert several weeks back. I felt very excited but nervous. I feel that I was prepared for it. I have taught martial arts for almost 15 years and have several letters behind my name from different fitness organizations.
Back to the point, I want to say that I have never seen the attention to detail like crossfit displays. Crossfit has continued to impress me from day 1. First it was the way crossfit completely turned the fitness industry upside down and now it continues by having a great process to train instructors. The amount of knowledge that filled the room at the L1 cert was impressive, but to hear about what it takes just to attend a L2 cert is crazy. It really says something about how determined crossfit is to produce the best possible product/service out there.
I consider it a great honor just to read the articles and watch the videos here.

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