Scaling, Progressions, and Coachability

Scaling, Progressions, and Coachability

The number one quality that coaches and athletes should be looking for is the ability to cultivate a growth mindset:

  • Be open to try new things
  • Be willing to learn new things (even though it may seem hard and daunting at first)
  • Don’t skip ahead and favour things that you are better at while ignoring weaknesses

It is important to understand why we use progressions (“scaling”):

  • To preserve the intended stimulus despite limitations.
  • To keep the athlete safe and progressing while still being challenged.
  • Appropriate volume for beginner/intermediate and advanced athletes

The next time you are about to crush the workout of the day, there are three things to consider:

  1. Time domain

How long is the workout going to take you? Your coach should be able to give you a general idea. If the workout is meant to be a sprint (21-15-9) and you have to take a minute of rest between every rep, you missed the point. If it’s a lack of skill or you simply went too heavy, then work on those areas to develop them. During a WOD is not the time to potentially compromise form and take pretend hand sanitizer breaks 🙂

  1. Movement patterns

Unless you have an injury preventing you from certain ranges of motion, you should aim to perform the exercise to your fullest potential. This means, for example, to squat all the way to the bottom and fully extend the hip at the top. Go all the way down, chest to the floor, with push ups. Don’t let the elbows flare out and do a chest press on ring dips, etc etc. Don’t “cheat” the potential that you have! It may suck and be a blow to the ego to realize that you will have to pull back in order to go forward, but it is worth your time and effort! If you constantly avoid things that you are not good at, then guess what… correct or you will never get better at them.

Remember, effort earns respect. Never underestimate a hard worker.

One last thing I’d like to add is: Don’t substitute movements for something completely different, the scaling progression should be similar to the prescribed movement as much as possible. The only exception to this may be injured or pregnant athletes. That’s why your coach is there, ask them! 

  1. What if I can RX (perform the movement as prescribed)?

Boom! You got butterfly pull-ups nailed, handstand walking, snatching and all that jazz! Now what? We kind of circle back to point 1 and 2! Just because you can do Fran RX, unless your time is under 5 min, before you put on that weight vest, make sure you go harder first. More volume does not necessarily mean better, instead aim to sustain a demanding pace for a longer period of time. Also keep hammering the basics. Your air squat should be flawless and movement patterns should make a cat with ninja skills feel clumsy. Be willing to receive feedback, nobody is beyond not having to refine technique. Sometimes we all miss the mark, hey it happens and could be a good thing as long as you learn from it. Some days (or even phases of your life) you may need to scale back, and thats okay. Listen to your body and be in tune with it. Let your coach know how you feel and discuss options. Play the long game and train to win another day. This is where coaching plays such an important role, to help you avoid pitfalls, biases and keep you to upholding the standards. The coach and the culture at your box should be supportive and a safe space for you to practice.

Your job is to show up with a positive attitude, not hard right? 🙂

Lastly, dont forget to have fun! Its much more enjoyable to try new things and stay curious.

Written by: Maria Coley, CCFT L-3

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