I started off 2018 with a lot of opportunities and a vision. On December 31, 2017, I officially separated from full-time military service with no clear landing zone. I had a vision, though, and an opportunity and that I held tight to. My intention for 2018 was to become a CrossFit coach, and I feel confident that I achieved that intention.
Becoming a coach, truly becoming a coach and not just filling a title as a coach, is at the center of everything that I did in 2018.
I came into 2018 with a lot of certificates from both schooling and a few organizations. Because of these certificates, I could title myself a coach but where the rubber meets the road, schooling does not a coach make. Don’t get me wrong, personal and professional development is always valuable and at times certification is a required first step down that path.
I also came in with an unrelenting desire to foster the culture and community that I’d discovered at Icehouse. I’d walked through the doors about 6 months earlier and had experienced that personal transformation that having teammates again had created in me. I definitely experienced this at Icehouse through spending time with a diverse cross-section of people who all want the best for themselves, and the best for the athletes that they spend time with.
So with education and enthusiasm, my first tactical step was to develop the tools to be a serviceable coach on the floor. CrossFit HQ breaks coaching down into seven aspects: teaching, seeing, correcting, group management, presence, attitude, and demonstration. I spent hours upon hours in the early part of 2018 practicing each of these aspects. Practice, practice, practice; by myself, one-on-one, then being on the floor shadowing and finally leading.
Every day since I coached my first class I’ve done my best to do better. The tactical part of CrossFit coach development; seeing movement, correcting, demonstrating, and teaching never stops. Repetitions make the tasks easier and feel more like second nature, but make no mistake there are opportunities during every class for me to do just a little better.
The middle part of 2018 my focus surprisingly shifted inward. When teaching, demonstrating, correcting, and seeing movement became more natural, the next step turned out to be bringing my depths as a person to my everyday. It was easy to navigate most of my adult life without ever having examined who I was as a person. I made a lot of small-talk, checked a lot of boxes, and kept a very clear line between my professional life and my personal life.
In order to be effective, in order to tap into the art of coaching, I needed to become real. This profession isn’t one where I am able to clock in and clock out. This profession is based on real, authentic human connection. I had to become real, and I couldn’t do that by reading a book or listening to a podcast. I had to do work. It has taken a village to help me with this aspect of coaching development, and I am very fortunate to have a number of people help me work on this every day. They ask questions and allow me the space to process and uncover my answers. Just like seeing, teaching, demonstrating and correcting, becoming real gets easier with repetitions and time, and each day provides me with an opportunity to improve.
I spent the last part of 2018 trying to put the tasks of the previous months together into a complete package, call it building a toolbox. I learned skills in the early part of the year, I learned about myself in the middle part of the year and by the end of it I started working on using the right tool for the right circumstance:
- sometimes athletes need a kick in the butt and sometimes they need a hug
- sometimes they need a shout of encouragement from across the room and sometimes they need a quiet whisper of encouragement from right next to the barbell;
- sometimes they need to put five more pounds on the bar, sometimes making it to class is enough for the win.
2018 was a year of development for me and I couldn’t have done it without the people in my daily life. They inspire me, they challenge me, they support me, and most importantly, they love me unconditionally.
Here’s to what 2019 will bring!
Sarah Skedsvold is a coach at CrossFit Icehouse. She’s committed to turning workouts into play and bolstering CrossFit Icehouse’s charge to “Build Everyday Athletes”. In her spare time she is in a constant search the absolutely perfect personal planner and calendar.