9 Ways to Spot a Great CrossFit Coach

What are the qualities and characteristics of a top class coach?

So how do you find a great CrossFit coach? Below you will find a bit of a checklist, that provides the baseline for what you should be expecting from your coach at your CrossFit Box/Gym. Have a look, and next time you are in your gym, see how your coach gets on!

Don’t be afraid to challenge us, as a coach myself I take pride in always reflecting on my sessions and my client’s feedback, we love a chance to improve.

This list isn’t comprehensive, and there will be things I’ve missed, but, I guarantee that every good coach out there will do every one of these things.

1. Do they get everyone active within the first 2-3 minutes?

Does your CrossFit coach spend 5-10 minutes at the start of the session explaining in detail every single movement, every nuance, personal experiences, blah blah blah…It’s not necessary.

All that’s needed is a clear and concise explanation of what you will be doing, checking that everyone is fit and able, and what the aims of the sessions are/what to expect.

Everything else can be explained throughout the session, via breakouts, personal tips, group work and advice.

Don’t get tricked!! A coach who spends a long time talking to the group is probably under planned, trying to kill time, and scared of being seen not to be knowledgeable.

A great CrossFit coach will get people active, and coach people personally.

You pay to be trained, and coached, not to listen to someone preach.

2. Do they Deliver an appropriate warm up?

Just playing a game, is not a warm up. Just going for a jog is not a warm up.

There should be a general element to the warm up, and a skill specific element to the warm up.

Combined, these should give you your first sweat of the session and prepare the area of the body/movement that you will be doing during the session.

3. Do they keep things simple?

You should understand your coach, and the aims and the focus of the session should be clearly stated on the board, and during the briefing. This ensures you are fully aware of what is expected of you during your session

4. Do they ensure there is lots of activity?

Lots of group coaching, lots of skill work, lots of games, lots of opportunities to get better!

Less breaks, less wandering around, no finishing early.

5. Do they ensure there are personal coaching and improvement plans?

Everyone should leave every session having been addressed personally at least 3 times, been praised for effort, and have individual points to work on.

Global cues to the whole group are a great way of setting expectations, but it’s the personal touches that make the difference.

6. Do they show enthusiasm, build rapport and set the environment?

Lots of energy, lots of passion!

Helps individuals and doesn’t make people feel silly. Makes the training environment a safe space for questions and for trying new things. There should be no fear of failure. A good coach will do these things, and build relationships with everyone in their group.

7. Do they take pride in their programming, their appearance, and enjoy their athlete’s success?

This one speaks for itself, your coach should be a role model in both behaviour and appearance.

With regards to programming, if they are the head coach/programmer then they should back their program. Therefore there should be tests and re tests, lots of time for skill acquisition, meaningful workouts and sessions that are tailored to you, as a member of the box.

All other coaches should also understand the programming element, and have a full list of variations, scales etc so that every person who walks through the door can achieve success.

If your coach doesn’t trust the process, then why should you?

8. A great CrossFit coach reflects, a lot

A great CrossFit coach will spend time going over how sessions went, and making tweaks to the way things were coached. They will be honest about this with you as well, and be prepared to say that certain things didn’t work.

This shows that they care.

9. Do they keep things FUN and keep things SAFE?

Finally, any coaching, in any sport, in any environment needs to be FUN and it needs to be SAFE. If you feel that either of these are ever in question, challenge it.

Keep an eye next time you are coached, see how they get on. Remember you are paying for good coaching and training, don’t settle for anything less.

These are adapted points from my time on the ECB Coach Education team, my Study of Sports Coaching practices at The University of Brighton, and from working with various Box Owners throughout the UK