Words to Eliminate From Your Coaching: Part 2

About the Author

Chet Morjaria

As coaches, we should constantly be figuring out how to improve the effectiveness of our teaching. Better coaching means better client learning. Which means enhanced results. Which means improved client satisfaction, retention, and referral. We tend to love discovering new drills to play with and try out. But today, we’re going to zone in on auditory cueing. 

A Small Word With a Big Personality

When was the last time you considered the words you use with you clients? Coming up with new fancy drills is of no use if you don’t verbally coach clients through them effectively. I’m not even taking internal versus external cuing, nor using complex anatomical language. I’m talking about a small word that comes up in so many coaching sentences that you probably don’t even notice you’re saying it:

That word is “but”.

“But” is a troublesome little word. It’s like a little devil on your shoulder, trying to destroy everything you work so hard to create. Here are two examples of typical coaching feedback:

  • “Great pull on that last clean. But your elbows were slow on the catch”
  • “Nice start position on that deadlift. But next time, lift faster.”

You started well there, Coach. BUT you messed it right up after that. See what that pesky little word does? You do a great job of complimenting the athlete, only for that little word to chew up everything you’ve said and spit it out. How do you think your client feels if you give them a compliment, no matter how sincere, and follow it up with a “but”? The compliment becomes worthless, and the positive coaching remark you made is diluted. 

This small, seemingly inconsequential word can have a significant negative impact on creating positive change with your clients.

Having a good pull and fast elbows are not mutually exclusive. In fact, a good pull facilitates fast elbows. Same with a decent deadlift get-set position and subsequently being able to lifting fast. So why make them sound so separate? That’s ineffective from a perspective of subconsciously learning how to piece together complex movement. I’m not saying all your feedback has to be super-positive, happy-smiley compliments. I’m suggesting you frame your feedback differently. Try these new and improve pieces of feedback for size:

  • “Great pull on that last clean. You bought loads of time to get your elbows round. Now you’ve done the hard part, take advantage of that powerful pull by getting those elbows round faster.”
  • “Nice start position on the deadlift. Let’s do another rep. Keep that same start position and lift faster.”

By using words like “and” instead of “but”, and discussing positive consequence, connecting up the two parts of the movement with your language. You’re allowing the athlete’s brain to figure out how it can handle both things. You’re opening up your client to getting both elements nailed, not just one or the other. Double win.

I’ll continue this series with other words that don’t deserve a place in your verbal coaching arsenal. Meanwhile, read Part 1 here.

Leave a Comment