Allow Us to Lead

The relationship between a coach and an athlete is like that of a delicate dance such as the Waltz or Fox Trot. The coach (the lead) leads while the athlete (the follow) ideally follows smoothly along to create a beautifully executed routine. When an athlete first comes to a coach with their goals, the coach then choreographs this “routine” over a period of time in order to achieve said goals. That first approach is the first step of the dance.

The first dance practice (class WOD or private training session) is usually when the two get to know each other. Learn each other’s habits. Temperaments. Motivations. Drive. Personality. It is the beginning stages of establishing trust. When you first partner up with someone new, you can feel the skepticism, the uneasiness, the doubt. The body is adept at showing resistance, whether it be through dance or listening to a coach. We can feel how an athlete is responding to a cue or instructions. Any coach/lead worth their salt can feel this resistance and guide the athlete/follow towards a better path.

The timidness that comes with entrusting someone with all your goals is naturally intimidating, and rightfully so. Putting your trust in us coaches is a huge undertaking that we do not take lightly. You trust us to not only guide you safely through your fitness journey but to also excel. Any decent coach knows this and keeps that in the forefront of their mind.

As coaches, we look forward to teaching athletes who listen to our advice without constantly complaining or questioning our every critique. For me at least, that’s the part I enjoy the most. Yes, sometimes things just do not feel right or you hit a slump and you become irritable. These occurrences are normal. But if you routinely doubt us coaches then maybe we were not meant to be dance partners. It is important to recognize and reflect on why the pairing is not compatible. If I find myself unable to reach through to an athlete I ponder on it deeply because it bothers me that I could not help them. We chose this career path because it feels amazing to help people achieve their fitness goals whether it be a new PR or improving your times on a benchmark WOD. But our happiness can only truly come to fruition if the athlete succeeds. If you fail, we fail. No coach finds any pleasure in coaching an un- athlete because that in turn leads to our own failure. It is not favorable for either party involved. The dance piece will never materialize in the manner that it should and both the coach and athlete will have wasted time.

On the flip-side, always remember that the coach/athlete relationship is that of a give and take. We are not infallible. The lead sometimes trips up during a routine. When that happens it is the follow’s responsibility to bring the lead back to center. The coach and athlete relationship is not that of absolute submission to one or the other. There is a gentle tug and pull to finding the best path to success. If you are finding it difficult to attain your goals then I ask you to please take a step back and reflect on why that may be happening. Sometimes if you are only doing everything the coach says without giving any feedback that may be what is hampering your progression. A dance is not perfect either if the lead is just dragging the follow along the entire time. Feedback is mutually beneficial and that is how not only you, as the athlete, but us coaches grow as well.

Basically the plot-twist of this blog was that it was actually a rant. But if this resonated with you then I am glad I was able to maybe change your outlook or perspective on us coaches. Be coachable. That is why we are here. Allow us to lead but also be a good follow.

- Coach Mac