As coaches we want our athletes to log their scores, but really we want them to do so much more than that! In this blog post, we’ll cover four questions that we believe coaches should teach their athletes to answer in the notes section of Log Your Results after each workout. You know, that awesome blank white space on the athlete's screen!
As coaches, it’s easy to assume that athletes know what to record or write about, but often, they don’t, and a little guidance (coaching!) goes a long way.
By teaching your athletes to log workout notes, you show them that you care more than just about their time and whether they did the workout RX’ed or Scaled. The daily process of recording notes specific to each workout helps athletes engage in their fitness and your program in a meaningful way, and provides insight to them on their development over time. While some might believe that notes would be desired for Benchmark workouts only (when the athlete will repeat the workout and could rely on those notes), I think that recording notes should be a daily task. Recording useful notes is a skill that athletes develop over time and should become part of their daily process. By engaging in their workout through notes, they learn more about CrossFit.
Athletes should think through and answer four questions in the notes section. Complete sentences not required!
1. How did the athlete do the workout? - be specific.
The athlete should note anything that would enable them to exactly recreate the workout as they did it that day. The specific weights used, the number of bands for pull-ups and the specific range of motion on the GHD sit-up are all important pieces of information that are not captured when an athlete logs their time or rounds.
Take for example the workout Annie (50-40-30-20-10 of Double Unders and Sit-ups). Suppose an athlete visits a gym and does the workout RX. They log their score and do not record any notes. A few months later, they redo the workout at their home gym and are saddened to see that their score is 58 seconds slower than their previous time. Then the negative thoughts start to happen. The athlete questions his fitness, nutrition, and how he's training! After a dismal 6 hours, he arrives home to tell his spouse who quickly reminds him that he is forgetting that the sit-ups were anchored at the visiting gym, making for an easier and often quicker Abmat sit-up pace. Awesome! Immediate attitude adjustment. The point is that the athlete could have avoided ALL of this mental turmoil had he noted the critical elements that described how he did the workout. When athletes record their scores only, this information is not captured.
2. How does the athlete recommend they do the workout the next time?
Often times the athlete has some initial thoughts immediately after the workout, such as, “I should have used 2 bands instead of 3” or “Next time I should try 90 pounds instead of 85.” The athlete needs to document this information as they will often forget these details the next time they do the workout. Yes, your workout notes become an athlete diary of sorts. This becomes especially important for a Benchmark workout. When the athlete uses the Prepare button, their past notes and reminders are right there telling them how to go about the next attempt.
Recording useful notes is a skill that athletes develop over time and should become part of their daily process. By detailing their workouts in notes, they engage more in their fitness and your program and learn more about CrossFit.
Say, for example, the athlete did Helen with two bands, but it was clear to them in that moment (or a coach told them) that they should use 1 band next time. There’s a slim chance the athlete will remember this the next time Helen comes up so it’s a great practice to have the athlete write to themselves in the notes section, “Use 1 band next time we do Helen” or “Use 90-lbs for Grace next time.”
Coaches can aide in this process too. After we do a workout and I’ve seen the efforts of each of my athletes, I’ll tell them specifically, “Hey, write in SugarWOD that Nicole said to use 55-lbs on the thrusters next time we do Fran.” This has a nice effect because I might not be the one coaching them the next time they do the workout and hopefully, it serves as a vote of confidence for the athlete when it comes from a coach.
3. How did they feel?
The athlete should record information that gives depth to how they're doing as an athlete - was their shoulder tweaky, are they pregnant, are they working through an injury? Granted, comment in this area is not always needed; however, if it is something that affected the athlete's ability to do the workout as "they normally would," it's worth noting here.
The depth at which athletes take notes here becomes an extra layer of communication between athlete and coach. When reviewing comments in SugarWOD, this can be a compelling way for coaches to see what’s going on with their athlete and reach out to them if needed to say, “Hey, let’s talk about what’s going on with your shoulder!”
As an aside, over the years, I've been surprised to see how many athletes will make the coaching staff aware of various ailments through their workout notes in SugarWOD rather than talking to the coaches in person. This pathway for communication in SugarWOD provides an added benefit to our business as it gives some athletes a medium in which they feel comfortable to reach out and have an initial conversation with a coach. The end result is that coach gets the information they need to help their athlete - a win in my book.
4. What equipment did they use in the workout?
Answering this question may not always be warranted. As an example, if an athlete does a workout with deadlifts and burpees, it’s not necessary for them to note what barbell they used! That being said, the use of Oly shoes, or not, knee sleeves, tape around the bar, hand grips, etc. can be useful information to have down the road. And, if an athlete travels to another gym, they should note it here.
How to Teach Your Athletes to Record Notes
If you want to teach your athletes how to record notes, I recommend that you have your coaches lead by example. Their notes should include the above. You can also use the list below in a blog post or email to athletes to get them started!
What to record in the notes section.
1. How did I perform the workout? - be specific
Record anything that would allow you to recreate the workout precisely as you did it that day (examples include: weights used, number of bands for pull-ups/dips, the specific range of motion on the GHD sit-up, and the run route used if it varies)
2. How should I approach the workout next time?
How should you tackle this workout next time, what would you do differently, what would you keep the same?
3. How did you feel?
Record how you felt before, during, and after the workout if it was out of the norm (did you shoulder feel tweaky, did you have an extra awesome performance, did you eat lunch too close to the workout, are you 4 months pregnant?)
4. What equipment did you use? What was the environment?
Did you workout with knee sleeves, Oly shoes, or use a different jump rope? Was it abnormally hot or cold or was the parking lot covered in snow for the 400m runs? Record this information too.
Do your athletes record consistent notes about their workouts? Post to comments.