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Coaching Skills: It’s All About Cuing!

Coaching Skills: It’s All About Cuing!

by: Brandon Richey

Coaching Skills: It’s All About Cuing!

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“The first rule to mastery is being able to follow instructions.”–Richard “Mack” Machowicz

Now I don’t know if the quote above originated with Richard (the host of Future Weapons), but he’s the one I first heard make this quote and it stuck with me. The key to mastery is being able to follow instructions and in addition to this being able to deliver clear concise instructions is also just as valuable. It is the latter that I want to discuss today! 

The Master Of Cuing…

Cuing is a technique used by us coaches and trainers to communicate a message to a trainee or athlete regarding the execution of a particular movement or exercise. When performing movements certain adjustments often need to be made by the trainee in order to more effectively perform a lift or exercise. 

Here’s some great cuing methods to improve your bodyweight exercises! 

The Naked Warrior

The fact is that one could probably write a book on coaching the deadlift, squat, or bench press if every aspect of each one of these lifts is examined in deep detail. However, when it comes to coaching an athlete through a movement we (us coaches/trainers) don’t have time to sit down and explain a dissertation on technique for the particular lift being coached. 

The fact is that we need to get things done so it is with cuing that we get the trainee to perform the desired set up, physical adjustments, and movements we want by giving them concise instructions in 2 to 3 word statements.  I’ll explain further here in the video. 

Superman your chest! Butt back! Crush your grip! Brace your stomach for impact! These are all examples of cues that can work great for communicating how a trainer can get an athlete to achieve the desired result for performing a certain move. 

Without effective cuing an athlete can get overwhelmed or fail to understand what is being asked of them. If the first rule to mastery is to follow instructions then maybe the 2nd rule is that those instructions must be delivered clearly by the coach or trainer that is responsible?

Here’s another great resource for cuing you into action with some serious bodyweight exercise!

Raising the Bar The Definitive Guide to Bar Calisthenics

If a coach or trainer is not yet comfortable in doing this then another problem is that they may come across as not being confident in their own abilities and can create doubt in the mind of the athlete being coached. I mean the last thing you want is to end up being seen like Coach Lasso. 

Ok maybe that was a bit extreme, but then again maybe not! The point is that you want to be able to earn the respect of your athletes/trainees. Trust me, nothing can do this better than being able to quickly and confidently spit some easy to follow cues at the athletes/trainees that are being coached. 

If you’re a coach or trainer then practice coming up with some different cues to pack the shoulders, to help the athletes hinge their hips, and to correct general posture for various exercises. Put a general game plan together prior to walking out onto the training floor that way you are ready with some simple adjustments in store.

That about wraps it up. I hope you enjoyed today’s post and if so then please make sure you drop your questions and comments in the box below this article. Remember that most anyone can train hard, but only the best train smart. 

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Coaching Skills: It’s All About Cuing!



I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. An article with some real wisdom for coaches/trainers. Back in the day (uh-huh) a lot of coaches coached in cliches. Straining to come out of the bottom on a heavy Dead Lift one day, and my form rapidly going to hell in a hand basket, I remember hearing “You got to want it!” Huh?

    If they haven’t all ready done so coaches/trainers need to pause and reflect on exactly what they are teaching their athletes. The logical follow on is to crystallize the salient features of the full range of potential instruction and get them firmly in mind.

    “Brevity is the soul of wit.” (The Bard) In context, clear, accurate, concise instruction is the soul of a good coach/trainer.

    1. Doc as usual you are right on target. I can share a similar experience with you with the “back in the day” scenario with some old coaches that used to just care about lifting the weight, without worry of how well it was being lifted. It was just all about pounding iron and quality just got tossed right out the window.

      Just “wanting it” enough to lift it sloppy doesn’t make it right. I appreciate the quote “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Your perspective is always valuable and greatly appreciated!

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