Next up in our six-part series, we’ll profile the athlete who goes too heavy and cover a dialogue to help coaches navigate this situation.
The situation is all too familiar. Athletes are warming up for the barbell component in a metcon workout. The coach looks over at one athlete in particular and sees that, as is often the case, they are building the bar with a loading that is way beyond what will deliver the intended stimulus, safety, and progress for the athlete.
In these instances, it’s the practiced job of a coach to help navigate the situation to land the athlete at the proper weight in a friendly and positive manner.
Use the following list of questions to get the result you want.
- “What weight are you thinking of using for the workout?”
This is a friendly way to engage and start the conversation with the athlete and let them communicate to you what is their intended weight.
- “We mentioned at the whiteboard that you should be able to do 15 reps in a row with that weight, smooth and easy, as the weight is supposed to be on the lighter side today relative to each athlete. Do you think you can do that with that weight?”
This is a good way to reinforce what was said at the whiteboard and allow the athlete to self-assess their ability.
- “Let’s go ahead and see a set of 15 and make sure we’re headed in the right direction for the intent of this workout.”
This is a good way to have real live data to fall back on. If the guide given by the coaches at the whiteboard is not enforced or pre-tested to know its value in achieving the intended stimulus, then each recommendation becomes arbitrary. Simply telling athletes in the specific warm-up that “they should be able to get a set of 15” will fall short in its goal as athletes will do 8 and call it good.
This is a good way to have real live data to fall back on. If the guide given by the coaches at the whiteboard is not enforced or pre-tested to know its value in achieving the intended stimulus, then each recommendation becomes arbitrary.
- “So in the last 4 reps you didn’t reach full depth on the overhead squat and it did not look smooth and easy throughout so let’s take some weight off.”
Athletes have to know that technique and range of motion errors are also part of the assessment for utilizing a given weight. While athletes will sometimes follow-up by saying “I’ll squat lower in the workout” - that’s rarely the case. Coaches know that to be true, stick to your guns.
- “Let’s use 55 on the bar, instead of the 75 pounds you have on there now.”
Be specific in your expectation for what weight they will use for the workout. Simply saying, “Let’s take some weight off the bar” leaves too much for interpretation for the athlete. You, the coach, having seen the 15 reps with the 75 pounds will know what weight will deliver the desired stimulus. Tell your athlete what loading to put on their bar. Using the specific numbers also communicates to the athlete that you know specifically what weights they’re using and what you’ll be looking for at the start of the workout.
The next time you're faced with the difficult task of getting an athlete to take weight off their bar for the workout, try using the questions laid out above!