In July 2013, after coaching at the CrossFit Games (I might have mentioned that before :P) I visited a good friend in Seattle. During my stay there, after a few years of casually watching NFL and picking which team to root for based on their uniform that day, I decided I better pick a team. So I became a Seahawks fan.
Later that season, the Seahawks won The Super Bowl and they’ve just won the NFC West. And that my friends is how you jump on a bandwagon at the right time!
But speaking of American sports leads us nicely into the American attitude towards sport and the European attitude.
In ‘Murica, it seems anyway, that sport is the reserve of the gifted and talented, and the elite. You don’t get onto your high school football team, and your career is over. You make it to college football but don’t make the grade, you’re done. Ditto with after college, you either join the NFL, or you become Al Bundy.
European sport is a little different. I want to go out and play football (we’re now talking about Association Football, or soccer, for my international readers) I can join a team and I can play actual matches. Sure, these are like division 20 Sunday league, lets-hope-we’ve-enough-players matches, but I’m still able to play. If I’m good enough, I can work my way up the ranks to find a level of competition suitable for me.
CrossFit, by design or chance, has exploded partially because it has adopted the European ethos towards sport. Previously, moves that were the reserves of the elite (e.g. only the jocks would get to power clean in the weight room) are now accessible to the masses. One finally gets to train, and feel, like an athlete. The positive impact this has on someone’s image and self esteem cannot be overstated.
Taking this level of prestige away from people under the guise of them not being competent enough to perform the tasks actually goes against what’s one of the greatest strengths of CF. Levelled classes can, and often do, cause a lot of damage to the clients ego. I’ll admit that this isn’t the intent, but unless it’s presented in a very positive and encouraging way, stopping clients from doing all the cool stuff leaves a very bad impression. You are not good enough.
I’d argue that if you see a need for splitting levels, and restricting certain movements, then it’s absolutely imperative that you can demonstrate a very clear path to the athlete how to achieve them. Secondly, and more importantly, inspire them that reaching those levels is within their ability if they put the work in. Giving someone a challenge and also assuring them along the way they can reach it is a fantastic and uplifting experience for your clients.
Very often, the difference between success and failure for them is going to be the assurance, inspiration and motivation a coach provides along the way. Far more than the physical challenges and mechanics. It’s a tricky line to walk, between what they need versus what they want, but that’s why you’re paid the big coaching bucks.
Don’t tell them they’re not good enough. Show them the path and inspire them along the way.