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The Coach’s Eye: Start Small To See It All

Introduction: The Coach's Eye

When it comes to coaching there are so many variables that you need to focus on.  At CM1 we like to keep it fairly simple.  We want to challenge our clients, have fun and keep everyone safe. To do so there are many factors that go into it between client evaluations, program design, goal setting, coaches eye, coaching psychology and facility management.   


When first getting started as a coach you may feel overwhelmed.  There are so many variables at play, how do we know what is most important.  A simple answer is…they are all important. The one we will focus on today is the coach’s eye.  The coach’s eye is the ability to see all that is taking part in the coaching environment.  This changes depending on the coaching situation. Coaching a team of 40 is a lot different than coaching a group of six or even one individual. 


Piece Of The Pie

When you are just starting to wet your feet your goal is to focus on what you can handle.  In a group setting where there are 40+ athletes working out you may be best suited to focus on just one small group of athletes.  This means you understand the exercises that are being performed, you set yourself up in a location where you can see each of the three athletes that are training.  In a smaller group or one on one the same applies.  Make sure you are in a position where you are able to properly spot, cue or help your clients/athletes.


Things to remember.  

  1. Never turn your back on an athlete.
  2. Never put yourself in a position that puts you or the athlete in a vulnerable position (standing behind a female performing RDL’s)
  3. Never spot someone from the opposite sex, unless there is clear communication and no other option. (sounds crazy, but we want to mitigate risk and potential touching)


Wide Range

Once you are able to handle a small piece of the pie your next objective is to see through a bigger lens, but still be able to have the same attention to detail that you did before.  Now instead of running one rack with three athletes you may run three racks with up to 9 athletes. With a wider range there are more moving parts to see. Instead of staying in one place you may need to move a bit to give yourself better vision of exercises being performed.


Big Rocks

As you continue to improve you start to be able to coach the whole group. In a group of 40+ athletes there is too much to see everything.  In this scale of coaching you need to start to understand and communicate big rocks.  Depending on what is being performed the big rocks will change.  Let’s use the squat for example. During the squat we want to make sure of the following:

  1. Weights are the same on both sides
  2. Unrack and set feet
  3. Breath and brace
  4. Sit hips back and down
  5. Parallel or slightly above
  6. Drive out of hole
  7. Walk back in, re-rack

Fairly vague synopsis of what is going on, but we have hit on some major landmarks when working through the squat. If we see one athlete missing a step we should over communicate that to the room. If one athlete doesn’t understand we know damn well someone else in the room is making a similar mistake. Remember safety doesn’t take a holiday.  You’d rather over communicate and be understood than have an athlete/client get injured.


Helping Yourself - Tempo, Exercise Selection, Education of Athletes/Clients

When you start to work in small group settings and even bigger settings you need to help yourself.  Not even the best coaches in the world can see it all (no matter what they say). How can you help yourself? 

  1. Exercise selection & flow of room 
  2. Tempo
  3. Education of athletes 


 Exercise selection. Never prescribe an exercise if you don’t feel confident coaching it. On top of that when you do prescribe exercises in a room that can get crowded make sure the layout is clean. We should never have too many athletes bottled necked in one spot, this can lead to silly injuries with weights getting dropped or athletes/clients fooling around ..etc.  


Tempo.  Knowing that tempo is great for helping build muscles and stability/control. It is also great for coaches to be able to see improper movements. For example the KB/DB goblet squat with a 3 second eccentric performed for 10 reps will give you a greater chance to see the exercise being performed by multiple athletes/clients than a goblet squat being performed without tempos. Give yourself and your athletes/clients a chance to coach one another. 


Education of athletes/clients.  At CM1 we pride ourselves on educating our clients/athletes on goal setting, exercises frequency, exercises selection…etc.  One of the major reasons for this is for the client to have an understanding of the “why”, and also be able to help coach other athletes/clients.  We all know we want to be held accountable and having the ability to hold yourself and others accountable puts even more skin in the game.  One of the ways I spot an exceptional coach is by talking to his athletes/clients.  If they are able to have a general understanding of what they are training that usually shows the coach has a plan, has communicated that plan and the athletes/clients understand the plan.




If you would like to learn more about the coaches eye please feel free to DM me at @CM1_Performacne 



With Strength,

Colin Masterson – Performance Coach

Employee – CM1 Performance

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