How To Go From Coaching PT to Coaching Groups

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If you want to progress your journey in coaching, you need to move from delivering to an audience of one to an audience of more than one. Common sense would dictate that the progression should be that you move to coaching two people, then three, then four, and so on. Essentially, you should know how to deliver your lesson to a group of people.

But what does that look like?

How do you gain the skills necessary to do so? Actually, first you need to know what skills you need!

What variables do you have to consider when you start coaching more than one person in a session?

There are so many things you don’t have to consider when you are just coaching one person at a time. Its because of this reduced level of complexity that we require all coaches begin our Coaching Certification by learning (or in the case of veteran coaches, relearning) how to work with one person at a time.

In our Second Degree Course, we have more than 20 lesson topics spread across the three primary sides of coaching (social, psychological, and biological). Let’s take a closer look at a few:

A. Social Side – Providing Adequate Coaching in a Group:

When you take a client from training with you 1:1 to 1:2, the first thing they will likely notice is that they are no longer getting 100% of your attention 100% of the time. Its your job to make them feel like they are getting enough. But how do you modify your delivery while ensuring they receive adequate coaching? Here are 7 easy steps to follow:

  1. The 90-second rule – spend no more than 90 seconds at a time with one particular client. In a 1:2 or 1:3 session, this helps establish a nice rhythm for coach and client.
  2. Tell, Show, Teach, Give Feedback – tell them what they are going to do, show them how to do it, walk them through doing it, then provide feedback on what they did correctly.
  3. Use tactile cues – the nature of tactile cues is that they are really great in a 1:1 setting, as they demand you to be 100% present with the client while using them. However, continuing to use them in this 1:2 setting can keep the feel of personalized coaching intact.
  4. Observe common faults and address globally – if the two clients in front of you present with similar faults, use this time to correct the two at once.
  5. Observe unique faults and address locally – this is the opposite of the previous one. This is where you would step in and use number 1 and 3 above.
  6. Triage – if a client is doing something unsafe, address this before anything else.
  7. Be clear and up front – with your clients on the steps you will take to ensure they will receive the full value of training 1:2 with you!

B. Psychological Side – Motivation in the Group:

The moment you coach more than one person, you have to think about motivating not just the individuals within the group, but also the group as a whole. Like the saying goes, one bad apple can spoil the bunch. How can you make sure you cover both bases? Here are 6 things to start implementing:

  1. Treat them like a team – get people doing as much of the same things together as possible during your session. People don’t like feeling singled out. Besides, if you’re having to create too much individuality, aren’t they better off back in a 1:1 setting?
  2. Use vocal fluctuations appropriately – your voice should match the energy that you want from the group. Instruction time isn’t the time when you should be loud and boisterous. And talking faintly while the music is cranked won’t work.
  3. Make it FUN – the reality is that if people are not enjoying your classes, they won’t come back. Even something as simple as smiling through class can have a really uplifting impact.
  4. Give Information – try to anticipate common questions to alleviate any sense of uneasiness that your participants may have. Chances are that if one person has that question, they both do.
  5. Organize Effectively – prior to your clients arriving, you should have the area prepped with what you need for the day. It allows you to do more of what they are paying you for – COACH! The payoff is even greater with groups because a lot of time can be lost waiting for clients to gather things.
  6. Use Positive Cues – if you say things like “don’t stop” or “don’t set the weight down”, the brain will naturally negate the negative and what the client will actually hear and internalize is “stop” or “set the weight down.” Try sayings that are positive, like “Keep going” or “You are strong enough to continue.”

C. Biological Side – Movement Modifications:

The nice part about going from one client to two is that making the movement modifications necessary during a session are quite easy to navigate. If you jump from coaching one person to 12, things get far more complex much too quick. This is where having a resource, like the ‘Movement Progressions and Regressions Chart’ we give coaches in our second degree course, is so helpful. Here’s one for Hinge movements and how to use it:

The movements increase in complexity as you move downward. When regressing someone, start with the target movement and go back one level at a time until you find an appropriate movement for that session. When progressing someone beyond the targeted movement (as you may do with an advanced client), go up only one level.

Ironically, part of knowing if you should progress or regress someone begins the moment your client walks in the door and you start to gather info on how they’re doing; things like lifestyle factors, stress of the day, following up on points of commonality, etc. But that’s a post for another day!

People just assume that coaching a group = teaching or finding faults. Hopefully by now you see that is certainly not the case.

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