The “Coach Speak” Problem

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Gymnastics Club!  8pm in Venice

Thursday May 22, 2014


Fire Hydrants
Keg Drill

Warm Up:

2 minutes jump rope
2 rounds:
10 Good Mornings
5 Strict Press
5 Push Press
2 Push Jerk
2 Split Jerk
3×3 position clean


15 min to establish 1RM of complex:
1 Hang clean + 1 Clean + 1 Jerk

Notes: Focus on pulling bar into hips and getting under bar quickly. Jerk can be push or split. Perform power cleans if needed.


100 DU’s 
10 Bear Complex (115/85/65)
80 DU’s
8 Bear Complex
60 DU’s
6 Bear Complex
40 DU’s
4 Bear Complex
20 DU’s 
2 Bear Complex

– 20 minute cap – 

Notes: Bear complex consists of a power clean, front squat, push press, back squat, push press, finishing with the bar locked out over head. Sub double unders with singles.

Cool Down:

Tabata L-sit, L-hang, tuck sit, or tuck hang


You might have heard a coach say something that just makes absolutely no sense to you. I know I have. The first time I heard “keep a hollow body” I had no clue what it meant and was given no further explanation. At the time, I did not ask for clarification. Maybe it was because no one else asked, therefore it must be something I should know, and I was embarrassed to be the one that has to bother to ask for clarification.

Another reason I have found myself missing an important cue is the phenomenon I call “coach speak”. You know that thing you hear your coach say over and over to the point that your brain no longer deems it important because “I already know that”? That is coach speak. Sometimes important cues and phrases get categorized as such in our minds, but they might be the crux of the explanation. It might be the difference between performing a movement correctly and safely, and performing a movement improperly and in an injurious manner.

A cue like “keep a hollow body” is a form of encoding multiple concrete ideas or actions into one abstract request. For example, if you ask an Olympic lifting coach why she uses the cue “keep your chest up” with her athletes, she might tell you “when they focus on keeping their chest up everything else falls into place”.

There are implicit actions associated with every cue that you may or may not need to have explicitly detailed in order to make sense of that cue. For example, keep your chest up also implicitly means retract your shoulder blades. This is why I’d like to make a reference with common cues, their explicit meanings and their implicit meanings.

To start out, I’d like to explain one you’ve probably heard before- “stabilize your midline”. As K-Star explains, a stable midline means a neutral spine supported by the muscles that stabilize it. You have no extension or flexion in either the lumbar (lower) or thoracic (top) portion of the spine. To achieve this position, he offers a series of 3 steps: 1)Squeeze your butt 2)”Pull down your ribcage”(to visualize this point to your sternum and to your belly button and decrease the distance between your two fingers) 3)Tighten your abs.

If you can think of a cue that you’d like explained in more detail, please let me know so I can add it to the reference list. If you can think of any cues or phrases that might fall into the category of coach speak, I’d also like to add them to the list.

Author: Matthew Walrath

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