When I think about the weekend-long Level-1 Trainer’s Certification Course that will determine whether I get my license to become a fully certified CrossFit trainer, I believe I will do well. I feel certain that when I get in my car to drive back home following the training and testing on that Sunday evening, I will be more knowledgeable and proficient in CrossFit and its methodologies. But will I be ready to walk into my affiliate on Monday and start coaching?
This question has been running through my mind for quite some time. I think the process of studying CrossFit technique and being tested on it is a great way to put people on the path to becoming a CrossFit coach or even an affiliate owner. But to think that someone could complete the course, pass the test and then turn around and immediately be proficient in instruction of training, diet and complex movements is foolish. I’m not discounting the quality of the service provided worldwide by the Level-1 cert staff, but in order to be able to be an effective coach in any discipline, you must be fully confident in the knowledge of what you are instructing.
Related: Coaching Up
So, as a pre-coaching plan, I have spent the last several months learning how to coach. I started by going into my local affiliate once or twice a week to do what I called “interning.” I help my coaches set up, walk with them while they go through the warm-up and explanation of whichever strength-based training we’re working on that day, and I observe. I learned basics like how to run the clock and how to run our sound system, but I also sat with the coaches and discussed how they plan the week’s programming. I talked to them about how and what to say when someone is struggling with a complex movement like a snatch or clean. I watched, listened and discussed the ways to help people with lifts like deadlifts when they weren’t keeping their backs straight or were pulling too soon with bent arms.
What I have taken away from this is that learning to coach is as much of an ongoing journey as learning to CrossFit. There is no level of mastery when it comes to being a coach at any level in any sport or activity. Coaching is a lifelong challenge, and at its heart is experience. Even though I’ve logged more than 800 CrossFit workouts, moving to the other side of the WOD really opened my eyes to what it takes to help people with very serious — and potentially dangerous — lifts and movements.
I also added a new element to pre-coaching training by completing the online course and becoming a certified judge for the 2014 CrossFit Open. By doing so, I was able to judge athletes on their movements and standards and work with our coaches to observe and record scores for each of the five workouts. Having completed the course (which was a lot more challenging and informative than I had anticipated), I am now able to establish, in a small way, a more prominent role with my affiliate.
To further the training of emerging coaches, CrossFit HQ has made available the Coaches’ Prep Course, which allows Level-1-certified trainers to complete more advanced training in the practice of hands-on coaching. While this is a step in the right direction, I still believe that the responsibility of training coaches lies squarely on the shoulders of affiliate owners. To ensure better safety and quality instruction, those new to coaching must be taught the proper ways to give tips and advice and treat members at their box. Once they have been set on this path, then and only then should newly minted coaches become responsible for training others.
I am actively learning about becoming a CrossFit coach. Now the next step: complete my Level-1 certification.