Article by guest contributer, Pat McCarty
As a coach and programmer, my week is spent in an ever-flowing river of data. I send out programming to my coaching clients, they receive it, they do the training, they video some of the movements, upload the video to their blog, log their results, I review the results, and the cycle begins again.
In fact, my ability to be effective as a coach depends on technology. There was a time when you coach was, well, your coach. You would walk into the gym, your coach would approach you, explain your workout, and then watch you as you moved through each element, providing cue and correction as you went.
With the proliferation of online coaching, competitions, programming houses and digital information, this coaching relationship now takes place, in many circumstances, on line. As a result, any delay in the flow of information, and the ability to coach effectively is lost. Unlike the instant-cue relationship of a hands-on coach, the digital relationship relies on both parties doing their part to stay current.
One of the frustrations I often run into with clients is when they get behind on updating their blog or beyond-the-whiteboard results. It’s easy to get behind, and nearly impossible to get caught up. Imaging trying to plan for the coming week’s program when you can’t review last week. Impossible.
Moreover, the diffuse nature of the internet sometimes results in some clients on WordPress, some clients on Blogger, some clients simply emailing me their results, and some not providing results at all. Imaging one of those old-time arcade games where you token into a slot and it pings around wildly until finally coming to rest in a spot where you had not intended. Now, multiple this by 20 and you have a metric ton of results coming at you, daily, and weekly and you trying to gather up those wayward pings, and log that info into your own semblance of a database or spreadsheet. It’s exhausting.
The digital coaching relationship can only work if several things happen. One, the client commits to charting his or her results. If this commitment is not present, then the coaching simply cannot be effective. Period. It’s the data that ultimately becomes empirical evidence of results, and which allows the coach to modify the program based on the results and toward the goals of the client.
Two, there needs to be consistency of presentation – meaning, an online blog is fine, but if every possible blogging platform is represented, it becomes difficult to follow consistently. For example, WordPress.com has a solid means of subscribing to content and comments, Blogger does not. I can follow my WordPress clients much more easily than my Blogger clients. Finally, if all you do is text me your results you’re merely relying on my phone to become your blogging platform. You’re making me do the tracking and charting, and that’s not my role. My role is to provide coaching, not data entry.
And finally, here needs to be video evidence. The one true way for a coach to comment on form, style, cycle time, and other things is to document much of your training with video. It’s the only way. This allows the coach to literally be in the room with you as you perform your workout.
The digital age of coaching has allowed athletes access to world class coaches from afar. It works, but it works ONLY when the flow of that digital river is a direct, steady stream, and not a snaking rapids of rocks and waterfalls.
About the Author
Patrick McCarty is a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and masters athlete. As a masters-level athlete, Patrick competed in the 2011, 2013, and 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games. Patrick’s fitness journey has taken him from traditional weightlifting to marathon running and, ultimately, to CrossFit, where he found the perfect balance of strength and conditioning, nutrition, and proper goal setting, which allowed him to find levels of fitness and well-being that eluded his twenty-year old self.
In addition to his own training, Patrick’s real passion is coaching. He provides programming and coaching for dozens of clients across the globe and finds immense satisfaction in helping other achieve their fitness goals, whether it’s climbing a rope for the first time or making it to the CrossFit Games. By day, Patrick is a web developer who owns his own design company, CJT Digital Design, in Loveland, Ohio.
You can find more from Patrick at his website, Training and Stirring, learn about his seminars, and even hire him!