FIVE TECHNIQUE HACKS TO HELP STRUGGLING CLIENTS SUCCEED
Rowing for any client/athlete is always a fine balance of getting the right amount of technical cues into your session and not overloading their brain. But if they just aren’t getting it, you know how frustrating it can feel—for both of you.
Your job as a coach is to help clients learn the exercise technique, but that process can get awkward if the client feels embarrassed or discouraged by their lack of mastery. You might also feel this way for missing the mark on how to teach it. Your best line of defenwe for diffusing these potentially high-pressure situations is to prepare multiple options for breaking down the exercise.
Try these 5 suggestions below as a starting point to achieve success, believe me, we’ve all been there and sometimes a little change from you can make a big change for your athlete.
Save it until the end
As long as the client isn’t at risk of injury, sometimes it’s best to leave a detailed technique tutorial until the end of the set or better yet, the workout, especially if you’re dealing with a case of “learner’s block” that’s made worse when there’s pressure to perform. Besides that, you might interrupt the flow of the workout when you spend too much time breaking down an exercise. If a client isn’t getting a particular move, regress it a bit and reserve a few minutes at the end of the session—once the client has cooled down—to “workshop” the exercise progression. With the workout over, there’s less pressure to accomplish the right technique asap.
Cater to multiple learning styles
One of the biggest things I see with a lot of coaches is the reliance on one possibly 2 coaching styles to try and impart information to those learning movement. You might have observed that people prefer to learn a new exercise in different ways, such as by watching, listening and/or doing. Especially on the rower, a combination of all three works well, perhaps with an emphasis on one particular style. Most coaches naturally notice which approach works best for which clients. Still, get in the habit of using a variety of teaching techniques when needed. For example: show the client what the exercise looks like by doing it yourself. As you visually demonstrate, explain what’s happening and invite clients to perform the exercise with you. Continue to demonstrate, explain and perhaps modify as needed.
Use props and tech tools
Coaches are known for using props such as bands, towels or tape to help demonstrate proper movement angles with clients. Sometimes asking clients to look in the mirror is all it takes for them to see—and correct—what’s going wrong with their form. This might be especially true for people who are visual learners.
If that doesn’t work, or there are no mirrors for them to watch their form, turn to your phone for assistance. Take photos or video of clients in action to help them understand and correct technique problems (be sure to get their permission to do this first). Mobile apps like Coach’s Eye and Hudl Technique allow you to go in-depth with on-the-spot footage or video imported from your camera roll. For example, you can view slow-motion playback and draw lines, angles and arrows on a video or photo to review and analyze problematic or desired movement patterns.
Go back to the drawing board
If a client still hasn’t improved after a thorough tutorial, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate the progression you’ve chosen. Re-start the exercise with something less advanced, temporarily eliminating a body part or removing the handle.
It might also be that the client needs more time to become aware of, and properly isolate, a muscle or muscle group involved in a given exercise before you can move on. Opt for foundational mastery before getting too complex.
Let it go
Finally, if a particular change seems to create a stumbling block for clients, you might need to face the fact that it’s not the right change for right now. Perhaps some clients need to do more foundational work before they’re ready for this next step. If you can’t logically tweak the movement so it’s more user-friendly, consider ditching it (for the time being, at least).
Coaches are responsible for helping clients improve and progress. To that end, carefully break down exercises and carry on from there. Remember you as a coach are only as good as your athletes. If you show, explain or get a client to practice poor form and technique then that is what you will be correcting for as long as you step out onto that gym floor.
Yours in fitness, education and helping clients achieve success.
Photo by Frederick Tubiermont on Unsplash
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