To coach the positive, coaches must understand two things:
1. Learning takes place when good behavior is rewarded versus bad behavior criticized.
2. The criticism sandwich.
“We’re trying to ignite the flame in each one of our members,” says Ben Bergeron, co-owner and head coach at CrossFit New England, as he addresses a group of affiliate owners. “Ignite the spark. It is the job and it is the responsibility of your coaches to get your members interested in CrossFit.”
It’s simple: if members aren’t excited about CrossFit, they’ll never learn it. If new members come in and you over-coach them, point out what they’re doing wrong and they’re intimidated, they likely won’t stick with it, Bergeron explains.
“Encourage with enthusiasm,” he says. “That’s your job, and it’s the responsibility of the coach.”
The criticism sandwich is the opposite of what Bergeron calls the No-Rep Nazi.
“When you’re saying, ‘No rep,’ you’re saying, ‘I’m not going to coach you.’”
Instead, compliment what the athlete is doing correctly, followed by what he needs to do right next time, and then give another compliment.
Bergeron says: “It’s a small critique that goes a long way.”
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Additional reading: The Deeper Side of Coaching by Ben Bergeron, published Dec. 2, 2011.