Imagine you’re at a party. There’s two whiteboards at the front of the room, one person standing in front of each of them and everyone else divided into two teams.
There’s three dots on each board and your team has to guess the right shape.
The tension is high…this game is the decider and the losing team has to do a ridiculous forfeit.
There are shapes being shouted out from people everywhere, but just then you notice something.
When your team shouts out a shape and gets it wrong, nothing happens, so you all guess again – but when an incorrect shape gets guessed on the other team, their guy at the whiteboard draws another dot on the board.
Hang on a minute!
That’s cheating isn’t it?
What’s represented by these two whiteboards in this fictional situation is the difference between the way the fitness industry expects our clients to learn a specific technique and how human brains actually work.
Our brains make decisions based on the information available to us and our previous experiences.
So, if we’re trying to teach a complete novice a complex skill, like a deadlift for example (but it could be hurdling, a jump shot, swimming , or anything really), we can either do it the way the fitness industry expects, or the way human brains actually work.
If we teach the way the fitness industry expects our clients to learn, we’ll break the movement down into small bits, repeating each bit in exactly the same way until our clients get it “right”, then we’ll ask them to try putting those small movements together in the “correct” sequence to make the entire movement “right”.
The problem is, because we’re focusing only on the “right” way to do it, we’re not giving the brain any further experience to go on. It’s like we’re staring at that board of three dots and waiting until they guess the right shape. Our cues (corrections) only add more complexity to the movement as our clients try to “keep their chest up” or “lead with the shoulders”. It’s just more instructions to the brain, without the experience to back it up.
On the flip side, if we actively encourage our clients to move in lots of different ways (without weights of course), so they can leave their chest down, or lead with their hips, or have their hands too wide, or stand too far away from the bar, then their brains are learning from experience how uncomfortable that feels, which is giving them much more information to go on. The more ways they learn how NOT to do it, the faster the brain will figure out the most effective and efficient way to do it.
Oh, and guess what?
It’ll look EXACTLY like the “correct” way you were insisting on before!
But it doesn’t stop there!
By asking your clients to “do it wrong on purpose”, not only are you helping them find good form much faster, but you’re actually helping their joints stay open and more mobile, which improves their ability to get it “right” AND protects them from injury at the same time!
How cool is that?
It’s like you’re on the team who keeps adding more dots to the board (by the way, the intended “correct” shape was a circle)!
So, I guess you have a choice.
Would you rather spend ages focusing on “correcting” your clients until they get it “right” (which to your clients feels like you’re spending ages on their problems, by the way), or would you rather have a bit of fun, get your clients to invent different ways that they could possibly get it “wrong” so that they can get it “right” quickly and move on?
Coaching has forever changed since the arrival of COVID-19.
It’s not as easy to touch your clients to cue them into different positions, or hold your hands out for them to hit with their limbs to achieve the right height/depth.
So, unless your communication skills are top-notch, it’s much more difficult to improve technique the way the industry has always done it.
Let’s shake things up, let’s do things differently…you never know, you might end up with better results than you’ve ever had – for MUCH less effort!
Discover how with my FREE Book “The Coaches Guide to Long-Term Injury Prevention Success”. You might just be surprised at how much further you can take your coaching skills!