What does it mean to be coachable? Coaches are there to guide you through a workout, teach you the points of performance on every movement and ensure you’re being safe and moving well. In short, they’re there to make you better—to ensure you’re making progress and that with each training session you’re getting one step closer to your goals. But if you aren’t taking the steps to be a coachable athlete, you’re wasting everyone’s time. Being coachable means you’re allowing this process to happen—making the most of the athlete-coach relationship. As an athlete, ask yourself these questions:

Can you take criticism?
If everyone performed a snatch correctly after hearing it explained once, there would be no need for coaches. Corrections must be made along the way, and how you respond to these can make a huge difference in your progress toward a complicated lift or gymnastics movement. Remember: A coach’s criticism is not a judgement of you as a person; it’s given so you can move correctly, avoid injury, and become a better athlete.

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Can you fail in front of others?
Yes, failing sucks. It can suck more when others are watching you do it. But CrossFit by nature is a community program. You’re going to have witnesses when you bail out of that back squat or do a set of toes-to-bar completely out of rhythm. The humility to own this failure as a step on the way to progress is a sign of a coachable athlete. Remember that everyone who saw you fail has also failed in front of others—and will again. Keep your ego in check—you’re likely to hear your coach provide some helpful feedback.

Are you patient?
Or do you want everything NOW? If you put up a wall when your coach tries to explain that if you want a muscle-up you first need to work on ring dips and strict pull-ups, neither of you are going to get anywhere. If rather than work on building the necessary strength to finish a muscle-up, you spend hours flailing through muscle-up attempts, you risk injury and will likely take even longer to get the movement. This is frustrating for both you and your coach.

Are you open-minded? (Or do you already know how to do everything?)
Maybe you came into CrossFit from a strength training or even a military background. You’ve got some experience under a barbell or doing sets of push-ups. That’s great. But staying rooted in your past can impair your future growth. Maybe hitting parallel was good enough in the your previous training program, but if your CrossFit coach is telling you to go chest-to-deck on push-ups, there’s probably a good reason. Being open minded to other possibilities and methods keeps a steady rapport between you and your coach. Still have doubts? Ask questions! Your coach will be glad you’re showing interest.

Are you welcoming?
Yes, it’s the coach’s job to drum up class morale and make the experience an inviting and positive one. But if you bring negativity through the door when you walk in, you detract from this. If you wear a sour face, roll your eyes about the warm-up or complain excessively about the WOD, you don’t make yourself approachable to either your coach or others in the class. It is no one’s job to make you happy. Use the drive to the gym to let go of stress from your day and look at the positive: You have the opportunity to go to CrossFit today. Make the most of it and keep your mind open to whatever the class brings when you walk in the door.

Are you trusting?
When you constantly question your coach, it breaks down the relationship and makes communication harder—which in turn, stunts your athletic growth. Yes, it can be deflating to hear your coach tell you to stick with ring rows for right now or not do Rx weight today. But it’s so you can do these things later, and well. Trust the process and trust your coaches. Look for the things you can do today to make yourself a better athlete. Your coach will thank you.

Photo courtesy of David Albo/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

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