2 sets of 16 lengths of shuttle sprints (50 feet)
Every minute on the minute for 12 minutes: sprint 90 yards
Mike Booth’s running clinic starts next Thursday. Register here.
The best kind of athlete to work with, regardless of skill level, is an athlete who is coachable.
Being coachable has little to do with physical ability. Some people learn very quickly due to gifts for dexterity, coordination and so on, but others take far longer—which is more than fine. Physical gifts aside, it’s a specific mentality that helps some athletes progress faster than others. Much faster.
Coachable athletes are like modern action figures with dozens of engineered joints that articulate in all directions. You can adjust these athletes easily because they’re willing to move the way you ask them to move. It’s not about mobility; it’s about attitude. It might feel weird or awkward for these athletes to change their technique, but they’re open to trying, and they’ll invest in a little short-term discomfort for long-term success.
Uncoachable athletes are like action figures from the ’80s, such as the Star Wars figures that hinged only at the hips and shoulders. These athletes don’t really want to change positions or technique and will actively resist attempts to improve their form. Most do it unconsciously but relentlessly, and it’s more a mental block than physical limitation. Sentences like this are common:
“But I’ve always done it this way.”
“Your way feels weird” or “I don’t feel as strong when I do it your way.”
“This way is slower.”
“But I did it like this at another gym.”
“I can’t do that because (insert reason).”
In the last example, the reason can often be a mobility concern, but that’s usually just another creative way of saying, “I don’t want to do what you’re requesting.”
I’ve learned that in some cases, athletes are correct—their way does work better. But with a coachable athlete, the exchange goes something like this:
“Have you ever tried squatting with your feet closer together?”
“No, but I’ll try it.”
“Hmm. I think it was better your way. Let’s go with that.”
An exchange like that is unbelievably productive for both coach and athlete.
In many other cases, the athlete just needs to change a bad habit or correct poor form—which requires effort and patience. Athletes pay CrossFit coaches to help them move better, and I’ve never understood why someone would pay for that service and then ignore the instructions. If you want to do shallow squats with your knees rolling in, or if you want to hit a PR deadlift with a round back, you can find cheaper ways to do it. If you want to max out a lift instead of backing it down today and investing in greater success tomorrow, your garage is the best place for it. But if you want to move better and get fitter, then a coach’s instructions become pretty valuable.
If a coach asks you to change something, your current movements are outside what is considered optimal technique, hence the instructions. At that point, it’s in your best interests to give the suggestion some consideration and work with the coach to find the best fix. A great coach will never demand immediate changes unless safety is a factor or you’re ignoring the movement standards for a workout; great coaches will work with your unique body to help you move as well as you possibly can.
It’s a give-and-take situation from which coachable athletes emerge fitter and uncoachable athletes emerge frustrated.
But if you immediately find reasons why you can’t or won’t make a change, you’ll never improve.
It’s like the Tony Robbins quote: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”