Feedback; this one is for the coaches

Coaches; do you want to get better at what you do? Ask for feedback!

But, before you do, make sure you are able to receive the feedback without having a breakdown! You have to go into this task (every time you coach) with a positive mindset and realise that not all feedback will be good, but also know that the not so good feedback is the stuff that will help you learn and grow and become an even more awesome coach and version of yourself - if you will use it and allow it to.

In one of the educational institutes I studied at, we were assessed and given feedback in what was at the time quite a bizarre way in my mind. Now looking back I can see the huge benefit to the 'rules' that surrounded the feedback process and why they were in place. Let me explain a little further. 

While I was coaching/teaching a class, one of my tutors would slip in the back of the room unannounced and watch me. (This was of course very daunting at first but soon enough it became something that I would look forward to - knowing that I would get feedback afterwards and that I could improve my coaching from that feedback).

Immediately after the class or at the soonest possible time that same day, I would sit down with my tutor and we would go through the feedback form. First I would give an assessment of how I felt I went, and then the tutor would give me the details of what they had observed. 

I would always be asked "what do I think went well?"  and "what could I do better next time" and "next time, I will do A,B and C different or better by... "

Giving positive feedback to other coaches after a very sweaty messy training session.

Giving positive feedback to other coaches after a very sweaty messy training session.

Usually it would be very hard to find things that I thought went well, and easy to find things that I would do better next time.. and then as the classes and practice progressed, it became easier to get the small things right and autonomous and the things about coaching and teaching that I found harder became easier and easier. Things like speaking in front of a group, learning to manage all different levels of ability, crowd managing with voice volume and tone control, and using different cues to get the same movement pattern happening across a wide variety of participants who all learn in different ways- all while having fun! 

Next the tutor would give me their feedback. They always had a load of both positive and constructive feedback to give. They had been in the industry for much longer and were able to pick all the things that I wouldn't have even known to look for or think about, or even knew I was doing.

Sometimes we are so unaware of our natural selves that we don't realise how much impact it can have on the people around us. For example, you might be cold and so have your arms crossed, but that can come off as unapproachable and uninterested as a coach (resting bi**h face anyone?). 

During and after the feedback process, I was not allowed to agree or disagree or argue "it was cold so I had my arms crossed to warm me up".. no nodding or shaking my head, and no questions. At the beginning this seemed so weird, I should be able to ask "why" for certain bits of feedback surely. But this rule was in place to protect me from getting carried away and accusing my tutor of seeing things they didn't just because I might not have been able to handle constructive criticism. It was also in place to protect the tutor and allow them to give the most honest feedback possible. There is no point in them telling you all the good things and not giving you constructive feedback, but no-one wants to give feedback to someone who isn't willing to hear it either. So the silent rule worked very well.

Receiving feedback from one of the greatest triathletes; Craig Alexander. 

Receiving feedback from one of the greatest triathletes; Craig Alexander. 

Of course there would be questions "how can I do this or that better" "how can I get everyones attention" "how do I demonstrate this" etc etc. Sometimes the tutor would give an immediate solution to the 'problem' they had observed. Other times these questions could be asked at a later point that day or the following day, or to another tutor, student or google. It was a good way to learn how to research and get information from different sources, and getting that larger view on different 'problems' gave a bigger variety of solutions where you could find one that suited your personal style as a coach.

There is a lot of self confidence built in this process as long as you are willing to be vulnerable and ask for help!

How to get feedback?

Ask another coach or coaches to watch you teach a class.

Ask your members for feedback - are they able to understand your cues? Which cues work best? are you loud enough? How was the music? Did they enjoy the workout? Are they sore in the right muscles the next day? Ask as many questions as you can think and reassure them that you are using their feedback to become a better coach and you won't tell them off for giving you a 'bad' review. 

Watch how your members move - are they getting into the correct positions when you use certain cues or are they not moving the way you would like them to? Are they having fun? Are they coming back to your classes?

Coaching on the CF weightlifting seminar staff at Crossfit Stars in Cairo, Egypt. 

Coaching on the CF weightlifting seminar staff at Crossfit Stars in Cairo, Egypt. 

Have a suggestion box - that way members can write their feedback down anonymously. 

Video yourself and give yourself feedback or send it to another coach for feedback.

There are almost endless points of performance to be looking for for feedback; here are a few starting points- Your body language, your movement around the room, your voice tone and volume, your friendlessness and approachability, your coaching vs your encouraging, group coaching vs one on one comments, your language, your use of names, your dress/tidiness, your arrival timing and keeping the class on schedule...

Ask yourself after each class- What went well? What can I do better next time?


I try to keep these posts short but I hope its been a helpful one. Let me know what your feedback is! 

Stay healthy and Happy. 

Coach Boom

Post in the comments other ways of how you give and receive feedback.