Squeezing the Lemon: Thoughts on My L2
Written by: Coach Slater
If you think I’m a critical coach, can you imagine 21 other like-minded Slaters picking apart my coaching style, ability, and knowledge for an entire weekend? If you like that idea, then let me tell you how I spent last Saturday and Sunday.
As many of you know, I had the opportunity to attend the CrossFit Level 2 (L2) course this past weekend, at Rogue Headquarters in Columbus, OH. If you’ll indulge me a little, I’d like to share my takeaways from the course and what it means for you as Derby City members.
The Level 1 (L1) focuses on teaching the fundamental movements of CrossFit, the air squat, front squat, overhead squat, shoulder press, push press, push jerk, deadlift, sumo deadlift high pull, and medicine ball clean. The L2 is solely focused on coaching development and programming skills, developed thru multiple small-group breakouts spent seeing, correcting, and teaching the movements in a one-on-one setting to another Coach, or to a small-group of Coaches. In short, your Coaching is being judged and analyzed by your peers, not just some L1 fool who only started CrossFit 3 months ago but doesn’t mind blowing $1,000 to get closer to a CrossFit celebrity for the weekend.
To me, the best learning experience from the L2 was getting the opportunity to expose your group management strengths and weaknesses in front of other knowledgeable Coaches and get constructive feedback. There were some nerves, sure, but I felt confident going into the weekend. I consistently volunteered to “go first” in any coaching drills amongst our small-groups, knowing that the only way to improve is to step into the fire. Plus, I knew that the people who go first often get the most criticism from the group leaders, but that criticism fades as they give feedback to more and more people. Like, they run out of steam. I didn’t want that. I wanted the full onslaught of feedback. Bring it. I went in confident, and left there feeling even more confident that we’re doing a great job at Derby City, and our goals for improved coaching are perfectly aligned with what CrossFit’s top coaches demand from themselves when Coaching.
Another takeaway was a point the group leaders consistently emphasized called “squeezing the lemon”; being relentless and greedy with my desire to elicit the most perfect form from someone. That may not be the most perfect overall, but it’s the best for them on that day, at that moment. No one moves perfectly, so there are always small tweaks that can be made. On the other hand, expecting perfection all the time means you’ll likely leave disappointed every day, so there’s a fine line between challenging you and still giving you a “win” for the day. So, I’ll continually ask you to get deeper in that air squat, or lock everything out in a push jerk before bringing the bar down, or moving your entire body in the pushup and not just your arms, even if you curse me under your breath the entire time. I want to see you move better and be better, and I know you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want to get better, too. So, squeezing the lemon allows the both of us to work toward that goal.
When working in our small-groups, I was coaching some good athletes who take this profession seriously, as you can imagine, so they already moved pretty well. Really squeezing the lemon on someone who already moves well takes a certain relentlessness as a coach, and I feel I picked up some tips from our group leaders in that area. I witnessed a lot of coaches ripping into other coaches, but doing so in a manner that had everyone laughing. It was cool to see some of CrossFit’s top coaches create an environment where they could exhibit their skill and love of coaching, and genuinely help someone be better.
Overall, the cost is maybe a little “high” (sorry HQ) for just getting Coached on your Coaching, but I also accept that the L2 is a step on the path to an L3, and maybe an L4 one day. So, you gotta do it. The L3 is CrossFit’s attempt to mimic the National Strength & Conditioning Association’s “Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist” certification, which is generally accepted as the go-to certification for Coaches to prove their scientific knowledge of how to effectively training athletes to improve athletic performance. The L4 is one-day assessment of your coaching ability in front of CrossFit’s elite Coaches as you lead a random group of 20-ish people of varying athletic experience, showing effective group management, coaching, and leadership. It’s the highest credentialed offering for Coaches. I’m challenging myself to achieve one or both of those designations in the future.
Our plan is to let every Derby City Coach get their L2, either this year or next. Coaches Evan, James, and Karlie are already planning their certification for later this summer, at CrossFit Mayhem (Rich Froning’s gym). So, stay tuned!