Box Development February 20, 2019

Coaching the Athlete Who is New to CrossFit


The primary goal with a new athlete is to promote them to make good decisions and reinforce the tenets of the training and coaching style at your affiliate.  
Here are four things you can do to communicate to new members what you value as a coach and affiliate:

  1. Find opportunities in class to remind them that their goal is technique and movement quality, over intensity, as they start their journey.

New athletes, just like veteran athletes, often want to impress their coaches, and they definitely don’t want to disappoint them! New athletes can often misunderstand the coach’s desires for them in their initial months so it’s best to have the conversation.
As the coach checks in with athletes during the specific warm-up, this is a good time to communicate to the newer athlete a good goal for the day.  

  1. Communicate that lifting the most weight (today) is not your goal for them.

As new athletes participate in their first strength day, you can often see the fear in their eyes as they load weight onto the bar. Address what you see and give them things they can focus on for the day that make it clear that you won’t be throwing their body weight on the bar anytime soon.
For example, you might say, “Your goal for today is finding a load at which you can confidently pass through parallel each rep and that you can work to control pushing your right knee out as you stand.”


  1. Remind them to log their score, and take notes!

New athletes are often developing a number of new habits as they start coming to a gym, one of those is logging their score. Go the extra mile and remind them after class to log their work. This can also serve as a great time to give them a little 1-on-1 lesson on what to log in the Notes section. By reminding them to log their score, you, the coach, now have a way to communicate, congratulate, and welcome them to the gym with a comment and fist bumps.

  1. Reinforce that they scaled appropriately when their time is in the correct time domain.

Oftentimes, new athletes will finish a workout, look around the gym and see some of the class still working out and think, “Oh, I should be doing more!” Address this head on and let them know that their time and how they approached the workout with selected scaling options was exactly correct for the goal for that day.
How do you help new athletes feel welcomed and communicate what you value as a coach and affiliate? Let us know!
Be sure to check out our entire series on working with athletes!