On Coaching: Part 4


Moving The Masses

Following are some tips on how to teach a group to move. This isn’t the only way to do things, but it represents a handful of things that I have found to work in the past and use as a guideline.


Speak loudly. Be yourself, but bigger.

Introduce yourself. Ask people their names and use their names when addressing them.

Ask questions. Keep people engaged. Address cues loudly to individuals so that others can hear and benefit as well. For example, if you tell John to keep his heels down, then Andy will also hear it and also correct his form.

When singling people out, make sure you keep the others focused. Point them towards the issues you are seeing so they stay engaged.

Group Management

Organize people so they can see you. Lines, rows or semicircles work very well. You want to have a line of sight so that you can see everyone move and you want them to be able to see you as you demonstrate.

Do your demonstrations so everyone can see you. It’s easier for you to turn 90 degrees than it is for 10 people to move around you.

Do your demos correctly. If you can’t do it correctly use someone else as a demo. If you can’t find someone else, then do it yourself but point out the stuff that’s wrong.

Move people as a group. Slow things down to a speed where you can see everyone. Have the group move down on your command and come up on your command. Control is crucial for the teaching/learning process.

You will develop your eye quicker and more effectively if you get people into the position you are looking for and keep them there while you make adjustments and then move them to the next position and keep them there. If you let everyone move at their own pace, you will never be able to address all the details and catch all the faults.

Get the group moving. Exercise is experiential: you learn by doing. You get better by doing. Do not let people stand around and watch you talk or get cold. People are here to exercise. Make them work.

Don’t give people too much information too quickly. One cue at a time works best. For example you can spend 10 minutes talking about squats and all the important things about what to do when you squat, but people will not be able to process all of that at once. Tell people one thing like “keep your heels down” and make them do 5 or 10 squats just focusing on that. Then give them another cue “spread your knees apart” and make them do another 10 squats trying to incorporate that on top of “heels down.” Now there are two more cues to go, that’s another 20 squats. Then once they put it all together, there should be at least 10 more perfect squats. You can get people to do 50 squats just in the warm up over 5 to 10 minutes. It reinforces the correct movement pattern. It makes them sweat and work. Even for advanced athletes 50 squats done with really precise form slowly can make them sweat.

That’s all for now — stop back in a week or two for On Coaching: Part 5, in which I’ll share some tips for teaching complex movements.

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  1. Kirk February 15, 2010 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    Keith – another excellent article on coaching! Clear and concise with great tips and key points for a very tricky part of training… Thanks for sharing your knowledge and skills.

  2. Grant Belton February 16, 2010 at 9:51 am - Reply

    Some good stuff Coach Keith. I will apply those tips my fellow trainers.

  3. Joey February 16, 2010 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    Good stuff – definitely want to get in on the apprenticeship program once my schedule dies down. Possibly over the summer.

  4. Eugene Lowery February 18, 2010 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    Your tips are always right on base, Garuji. Thanks!

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