Outside Influence

By Emily Beers

In Coaching

August 09, 2015

PDF Article

Researcher Gabriele Wulf and CrossFit trainers explain how external cues can help athletes move better.

He was tired of watching Jim round his back during a deadlift. He had tried every cue in the book to fix the problem.

But Pat Barber found his client was stubborn and always seemed to oppose his coach’s requests. This time, Barber—a long-time member of CrossFit Inc.’s Seminar Staff—tried a different approach: He facetiously told his client to perform a deadlift incorrectly, and it actually improved the movement. In that moment, a seemingly incorrect cue—“round your back”—was the right one to achieve the goal, Barber explained.

This approach is straight out of the “CrossFit Level 2 Certificate Course Training Guide and Workbook”: “Any cue that results in improved movement mechanics is successful and therefore, a ‘good’ cue.”

Barber said being able to adapt your coaching commands to help a client move better is what sets good coaches apart from great ones. Echoing the Level 2 material, Barber said coaches should be less concerned about finding the most theoretically perfect coaching cue and more focused on discovering a way to help their athletes learn skills and move efficiently.

“The best cue is the one that works,” Barber explained. “It doesn’t matter if you read it in a book or made it up on the spot.”

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