Coaching – just forget the answers! 

I was in the gym 2 weeks ago and jealous of some of the people in the gym who were working on a different “blackboard” set of exercises. I’ve been going a year or 2 to this specific gym and focused on building strength in instructor-led sessions on a different blackboard but this advanced blackboard is my goal for 2017. 

I spoke to one of the guys who was doing this advanced blackboard as he was just finished his set of Olympic snatches. One of the moves involves flicking the barbell with weights on the bar above your head with an explosive movement. It looks impressive when done properly and it’s a difficult move with not a lot of weight. I was talking to him as he was after getting frustrated with not getting his form correct with the last set. I knew nothing about the exercise because I’m not on that blackboard yet, so I questioned him on the correct form, what that meant, what it would look like and what it would feel like when done correctly. 

He broke down the exercise into a number of steps – feet shoulder width apart, arms holding bar slightly wider than the feet, the shrug to flick the bar up initially once the hips help drive it up from the ground and then an overhead press. Technically I’m sure I could be corrected on this summary but this is how he broke it down. 
What was interesting though and what I reflected on afterwards was how curiously questioning and getting him to explain it to me as someone who didn’t know the exercise, helped my understanding but also cemented the list of steps for him. I questioned him on where he thinks he was going wrong and what it would feel like if he did it right. He said he wasn’t driving from the hips, and it should be more fluid. 

I asked him to visualise the movement being fluid and driving from the hips, and have him do another set which he did. He smashed every one of the reps. His movement was strong, fluid and he pushed the weight over his head keeping his balance for each one. He grinned at me when finished asking how I did that! 

I knew what I was doing asking the questions because I know coaching questions so I broke it down into a rough GROW model for him to understand the reasons I asked the questions I asked. 

He couldn’t believe it – which is awesome. I couldn’t believe it though either. I had read parts of “The Inner Game of Tennis” and knew the methodology of coaching, rather than giving the answers to the person. I tried to do the same with this in the way I knew how to do which was questioning. 

It cemented my understand of coaching more and more as because I didn’t know the exercises or the “answers” then I could coach fully and focus on the person knowing their own answers. 

Times like this help me realise the benefits of coaching, and help me reflect on not knowing how to “fix” people with suggestions I know work, but to coach them instead! 

So forget the answers, focus on the questions and coach fully. 

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