When It’s Not Appropriate to Ask Your Coach for Modifications

Every so often, athletes will come in after a week off, so excited to workout! They had been looking at the workouts each day just waiting for the right combination of movements to show up that allowed them to workout pain-free. Because, let’s be honest, some days our bodies just aren’t up for snatching, squatting, and deadlifts. This takes praise-worthy awareness of your own body, your goals, and your needs; recognizing that the potential risk of certain movements may not be worth the reward of getting a good workout in.

But you’re missing one important detail. You left your coach out of this entire process. You did it all on your own. But let’s be real. I mean, they’re busy. They have 15 other people in class to deal with. You know you’re taking a break from those movements, so it’s just easier to save the hassle, wait a week, because ultimately, you’re just bothering the coaches by asking them for some special modification for your unique situation.

WRONG! Cut that out. Why do you think you’re here? To get coached. Why do you think they’re here? To coach. Proper movement is often the best medicine, and with the right modifications, what was bothering you could improve even faster with the help of your coach.

If you have a problem. Ask us for help. I promise you. You’re not bothering the coaches if we’re squatting and you need a modification. We’ve had athletes with sprained ankles from hikes, with shoulders in slings after breaking a collar bone mountain biking, missing an arm from their military service, and after full knee and hip reconstructions after a life of sports. Our goal is to get you fitter and healthier. And there are countless ways to make this happen beyond what’s written on the website each day.

*Proof of concept* I had a pretty bad ankle sprain after a trip to the Grand Canyon in April. It could barely move. Like, at all. No squats. No rowing. No box jumps. No lunges. No double unders. No wall balls. No running. No snatching, cleans nor jerks. As you can see, without an ankle that can flex and extend, it’s quite limiting. Think of all the WODs I can’t do as written any more!

Yet I still managed to workout 4 times a week. Here’s an example: One day we were doing deadlifts in class. These were actually fine because your ankle doesn’t need a lot of movement during a deadlift. But even with light weight, the load on my ankle beyond my body weight was just too much. Michael noticed I was favoring my good leg as I deadlifted a single blue kettlebell (26 pounds). In the moment, an idea clicked. He grabbed a band, tied it around the rig, and told me to grab the band between my legs, flex my hips and move into full extension. This modification allowed me to add resistance to the flexion/extension of my hips without loading my feet. 

My glutes, hips and hamstrings were lit up the next day, all without sacrificing my ankle’s healing process.

It’s always appropriate to ask your coach for modifications. It’s their job as your coach to give them. But it’s your job as an athlete to ask sometimes, too. We don’t always know what’s going on inside your body, so we rely on open communication from you as an athlete so that we can ensure you get the best workout for your needs on any given day.

All this to say, it’s okay to ask for help. You’re not in this alone.


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