This past weekend, I had the opportunity to help coach at my first CF Olympic Weightlifting Cert at CrossFit Central. Personally, I attended this cert almost 2 years ago in San Diego with Coach B. At this point in my CF career I had started getting my feet wet with coaching, but was thirsty to learn more and get more specialized. Why did I ultimately choose to go to this cert? Simply, my favorite WoD's were those that had the classic lifts, or their variations. It ultimately came down to what I enjoyed and was passionate about.
If you're a coach, certs such as this can open your eyes to a new passion and lead you down a career path where people eventually seek you out because of your expertise. Certs and seminars, however, are not the end all be all. Please don't fall into the trap of thinking that if you attend a 2 day cert/seminar you are now an "expert" in that modality. They are meant to be a base for which you are to grow and continue your learning. Personally, this cert was the catalyst for me wanting to focus on weightlifting and basic barbell movements as both a coach and an athlete. It lead me to seek out some of the best coaches our country has to offer like Sean Waxman, John Garhammer and Ursula Garza Papandrea.
The goal of the CF Oly Cert is to teach participants how to COACH the lifts, not necessarily how to DO the lifts. While this is the ultimate goal, the first step to getting to that point is making sure you can DO the lifts. This cert does an amazing job of blending both personal development as well as coaching development.
Every segment of the weekend was broken into 2 parts: instructional and practical. The instructional portion was designed to teach everyone how to properly perform the progressions and movements. The practical portion was designed not only to practice what was just learned in the instructional phase, but more importantly, to coach and teach to a partner or small group.
In the small groups that I lead, my focus was to try and develop the "coaches eye". To do that, I would have a volunteer get in the middle of the circle, do a couple reps of whatever we were working on, and then discuss with the group what we saw or didn't see and how to correct it through verbal and tactile cues. From there, I had everyone partner up and coach each other. To help develop the coaches eye further, I made the "athlete" purposely mess up a portion of the movement to see if the "coach" could catch the mistake and then correct it. I'd like to think that was effective.
Now, if you're just an athlete and not a coach, these certs and seminars are still worth the time and money simply because you get top notch technical coaching by some great coaches. Also, I've found that an effective way to get better at a movement is to coach it.
By the end of the weekend, I felt we did an effective job of given the attendees a base of knowledge from which to expand upon and improve as a coach. It was a very rewarding weekend for me in the sense that I was able to be a part of a great cert staff and help in the development of current and future coaches and trainers. I love that stuff!
* You can also see this write-up featured on The Triune, CrossFit Central's media website.