You’ve spent plenty of time and money learning how to develop life-changing training programs. You can assess physical function at a glance. You get goosebumps when calculating VO2 Max. But all of that means nothing if you aren’t able to effectively communicate what you know with your clients.
Of all traits that make up a qualified coach, communication is at the top of the list. That’s why we’ve compiled our best tips for becoming a top-notch communicator.
Focus on the Foundations.
If you’ve gone through any of our courses, you know that TRX has developed a standard system of cueing to guide individuals through each movement. Known as NAPS-MR, there are six elements that ensure that your clients and class participants understand and complete each exercise safely and in uniform fashion.
NAPS-MR, which is an acronym for Name the Exercise, Adjustment, Placement, Start, Movement and Return, includes all the steps that will get your client through the exercise, from A to Z.
Here’s an example:
N: TRX Inverted Row
A: Over shortened
P: Ground facing
S: Chest below anchor, arms extended over chest, knees bent to 90 degrees, shoulders should be positioned slightly lower than hip, hips pressed up, chest lifted
M: Drive elbows back, pull body towards anchor point, keep knees bent at 90 degrees, maintain plank
R: Lower body down until arms are fully extended, maintain plank
On a side note, it’s important to notice the simplicity of the information presented here. It would be easy to overinflate an exercise with loads of cues throughout the movement—squeeze your glutes, draw the belly button into the spine, shoulders back and down, maintain a long spine, for example—but there’s only so much info the human brain can hold onto. And when there are too many balls in the air at a time, the likelihood of dropping all of them increases. Practicing NAPS-MR helps to avoid information overload for simple, high-quality movement.
Understand Your Audience.
Tony Robbins is arguably one of the most effective speakers and influencers around today. One of the traits that helped him build such a robust following—each of his live events bring in anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000+ audience members—is his ability to appeal to each individual.
He says, “To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to communicate with others.”
Not everyone responds to language and cues in the same way and so it’s up to you to figure out what makes your client tick and then adjust your language accordingly.
You may be an anatomy buff and know exactly what it means when someone asks you engage your lats while in push-up position, but the average client might not.
And while you could spend a good 20 minutes schooling them on anatomy and optimal structural function, it’s a lot easier and less time consuming to instead ask them to bring their shoulder blades toward their back pockets or corkscrew the hands into the floor. This is the primary concept behind our “Swing Thoughts” which were designed to create a visual reference/guide to help everyone understand exactly what is expected in an efficient and easily understood way.
Experiment with your language choices and notice your client’s responses to them. When you describe an exercise, do their eyes glaze over or do you see a lightbulb? In the same way that you assess movement patterns and adjust your movement plan accordingly, assess how your words resonate with clients and adjust your language choices, if necessary.
It can be endlessly frustrating trying to describe to a client his movement dysfunction. When performing an overhead squat, it’s easy for you to see that they have a left lateral shift in their hips, the right knee is valgus and they lack thoracic extension. If you try to explain it this way you might as well be speaking to them in gibberish. Even if you say that the right knee caves in and the upper-back rounds during the movement, the most adept client might not be able to grasp what you mean.
This is where a simple photo or video comes in handy.
Some people are visual learners, plain and simple. In these cases, showing instead of telling can give clients better insight into structural inefficiencies.
TRX Maps, for example, solves this problem by showing users exactly where the dysfunctions present and then offers solutions on what can be done to move more efficiently—all in a matter of seconds.
Should you not have TRX Maps at your disposal, your phone’s camera can also provide your client with both static (photo) and moving (video) feedback.
Be the Experience.
As the old proverb goes, being an effective communicator isn’t just about what you say, it’s about how you say it.
That’s where the phrase, “Be the experience” comes from.
Taking a client or class through a training session is about more than connecting a series of exercises together.
In order to affect real change, you have to create an experience that helps clients fully engage with a workout. How you do that depends on your coaching style.
We’ve defined three different coaching styles: The Sensei, the Coach and the Cheerleader. The Sensei, for example, is all about instruction, whereas the Coach inspires and the Cheerleader motivates. The Sensei looks at movement accuracy and precision, the Coach aims for form and intensity and the Cheerleader focuses on emotion and energy.
There is no one best approach and not everyone will be good at all three.
The best coaching style for you is the one that feels the most true to self. People have strong BS meters and will know right away when you try to be something you’re not. However, when you define which style or styles fit you best—you might choose more than one—then you’ll develop a stronger ability to connect with clients and guide them toward success.
Knowledge may be power, but it’s how you communicate that knowledge that sparks real, lasting change.
To learn more about the best ways to communicate with your clients check out TRX Education.