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How Can You Self Assess and Self Correct?

This question comes from my buddy Will Garnsworthy over at Drum Martial Arts and Fitness.

Like most of us coaches, we’ve had to work with our clients remotely since the Covid breakout, which has lead to a great many challenges both for the coach and the clients

Think about it, in the gym, I can see you in real time. Even if we’re at opposite ends of the gym, I can still see you.

Wg-Fit is basically a warehouse, an empty room. We’re not big on equipment, so there’s nothing to get in the way of my eyeline. Plus there’s mirrors that help me see you at a different angle, or if you’re behind me.

This means that in real time I can raise my voice just enough and offer a coaching cue. Very often, because of my experience, I have a “bag” of cues I can dip into and pull out one that isn’t just relevant to the one athlete but is general enough that most of the room benefits. Maybe I can be walking past you and simply tap or move you slightly to get better form, even if I’m talking to or focussing on another client.

But over lockdown, with you training at home, we have lost all this. The clients that send me videos, may only send one set. I may not see it today, you may not see my response the day I send it.

The immediate nature of the coaching, the real time coaching all but disappeared, which means clients need to both self assess and self correct.

Something almost every client is capable of, but do need shown how.

So how do we teach clients to self assess and to self correct?

Let's start with self assessment.

All coaches perform some kind of assessment process with their clients. It can be as simple as simply watching the client move and paying attention to how they achieve any given movement, what motions they struggle with, which they find easy. This usually helps narrow down the exercise selection. Most coaches kept this up with a video consultation with any new client.

The trick, in my mind, is to give the client an understanding of what we’re doing and what we’re looking for. And then to give them somewhat of a standardised warm up to follow.

To be honest most of the best assessments are also great warm up exercises, so why not include them in the warm up. As the client will then perform this warm up multiple times per week, it offers them a chance to observe how they feel doing the movements. Are the movements getting easier, harder, more or less balanced, are aches and pains appearing or disappearing, are they regaining or losing ranges of motion. By following this thought process, they start to recognise their own body. They develop better awareness, better proprioception. A better relationship with their body?

Wouldn’t that be nice?

As a client, all I ask is that you keep a mental note of every movement you do and compare it to the last time you did that movement. Depending on the drill, it is often a good idea to close your eyes as you do it so as to remove our primary sense and to better “listen” to our quieter senses, particularly those involved in proprioception, or the sensing of our body position as it moves through space. (not space, as in an astronaut, just the space around you….although the astronaut thing would be fun…)

As for self correcting.

This builds on everything we’ve just talked about.

As you gain awareness of your body and it’s movement, you will start to learn how to correct most issues. The best way to do this, in my mind, is the set up position of the exercise. If you can get a proper, defined start position, and a proper defined end position, now you just have to join the two dots!

Warm up sets are light, so they offer a chance to move real slow through the entire range, feel how the body braces itself, how it presses into the ground, or moves around a bar. How certain muscles tighten before others. Feeling this with a slow rep or two, maybe a rep with pauses at the start, end and any sticking points between them, will bring awareness. A feeling of how all subsequent reps should go despite any increase in load or fatigue.

Any coaching cues that you have previously received from your coach should run through the back of your head. Some of my clients tell me they actually hear my voice in their heads as they lift! There’s a lot more to say on self correction. Now we’ve opened this particular can of worms, expect more on the topic.


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