Tips for New CrossFit Coaches

Author: Sacha Elms   Date Posted:24 February 2016 

Tips and advice – From a new coach’s perspective

Coaching Crossfit, and coaching in general, is a fine art. It is a blend between “soft” skills (social skills), and knowledge gained from research, as well as knowledge gained that only experience can offer.
Hopefully this article will be able to shed some light on a few things you can expect as a Crossfit coach, or things that can help you to become better at improving others.


Names are everything

Remembering names is one of the first and best things you can do as a Crossfit coach.
Simply because it makes people feel valued. They’re counting on you to get them through a workout. They’ve taken time out of their day to motivate themselves and come to your business, and it is paramount that you can make them feel that their presence there is important and that you are interested in their success as an athlete.
This is another reason why getting your members to write their names and scores on the whiteboard is so beneficial. Aside from building a culture of friendly competition, a feeling of personal achievement, and a way for both the members and the coaches to track progress, plainly, it helps you figure out names when a new person comes in. If you happen to have a mental blank – just check the whiteboard.
If you need to ask someone’s name again, apologise but don’t dwell on it, and if the context permits, continue the conversation with questions about their work, the workout, or generally anything Crossfit related. Ensure to maintain eye contact, and if you don’t have time to chat for a while at the time, try to catch them after the workout. This will tell them that you are interested in them as a client.

Don’t pretend you know everything

This one is quite simple. Whether it be in regards to injuries or nutrition, if you don’t know the answer to something, don’t pretend you do and point someone in a potentially harmful direction. If you’re unsure, always tell them to speak to a more experienced coach, or to a professional in that area. They will appreciate your honesty, and will save you from further complications down the road.


Be confident in what you know

Even though you may not know everything, be confident in what you do know. This means presenting your coaching style in a confident and clear manner. As soon as it is time to coach – you are in charge. Speak clearly and concisely and project your voice when needed. The class will recognise when you know what you are talking about. If you make mistakes, the class will forgive you, but remember they’re counting on you to get them through the pain cave, and if their leader seems to not have a clue about what is going on, it will in turn effect how they attack the WOD and how they are going to listen to you as a coach.
That being said, we all have days where our brains just aren’t functioning in ideal condition, but do your best. When it’s coaching time - flip the switch.


Continue to research

Make sure you keep on developing your knowledge so you can give your athletes the best training possible. Thinking on your feet in regards to scaling workouts is very important, and if you can do this quickly it will save a lot of time. A lot of coaching is being able to scale people when needed, so having a repertoire of modifications every time you walk through the door will help sessions run smoothly.
Continuous research will also help in gathering different cues for movements. Not every cue works for different athletes, so having a variety will be very helpful.

Lead by example

Possibly one of the most crucial parts of being a Crossfit coach. Other sports tend to be exempt from this, but in Crossfit having coaches that practise what they preach is of immense value. Regular training, eating well, and giving example of a healthy lifestyle help to inspire and motivate your clients. As well as this, you want to be able to show your clients how to attack a WOD if they see you training before or after a class – with complete focus and determination. Show them about when to dig in and when to slow down if you need to. This will also build respect for you, and your athletes will be much more inclined to listen to what you have to say – because you understand what they go through when they train as well.

Not everyone is going to like you

Every single coach will experience this at some point or another. Not everyone is going to think you’re fantastic, or appreciate your approach to Crossfit programming or training. Trainers tend to be mostly extroverted people, so having someone not particularly take to you can be hard to swallow. Do not let this upset you or think you are a terrible coach. Keep an open mind and recognise that there are things you can improve on, but also remember that it is nearly impossible to have everyone you come in contact with absolutely happy. Stay professional, be confident in your abilities and approach, and continue to be helpful to these people and give them the same amount of attention as others.
However, welcome any type of feedback. Generally, people who speak up about things they think could be done better should be thanked. They are helping you sort out how to improve your business, or what to keep the same.

These are only a few pointers that you will learn as you begin your coaching journey. Stay positive, work hard and have fun. It’s an incredibly rewarding job! 


Sacha Elms is 19 years old and lives in Miranda, NSW. She trains and coaches at Crossfit BodiComplete, and is currently undertaking her certificate III and IV in personal training. She has a passion for health, fitness, competition and Crossfit media, and is seeking to expand her knowledge in these areas of the fitness industry.

Photos by Roslyn Elms Images.

Comments (1)

10 April 2017
Great article!

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