By Jennifer Lintz, Registered Dietitian and ICI/PRO Member Soigneur
One of my colleagues recently asked me if I ever feel like a broken record on the instructor bike. Of course! I have definitely fallen into ruts where I find myself using the same cues over and over. In a class where variety of all kinds is important, it can be challenging to be clear and motivating without relying on the same words and phrases class after class. I do think it is possible to keep our word choices fresh and new, but it requires effort. Here are a few of my thoughts on how to give your cues a makeover if you ever feel like you're in repeat mode.
1. Become self-aware. If you don't realize that you say the same cue 12 times in an hour-long class, you probably won't see the need to do anything about it. The next time you teach, pay attention to your word choices. Make a mental note of anything you catch yourself saying multiple times. You might even record yourself to get a more complete picture of your teaching lingo and speaking habits.
2. Ask: "Is there another way?" Once you identify your go-to phrases, start brainstorming other ways to communicate a similar message. If you catch yourself saying "Push it!" multiple times in a class, jot down other ways you could ask participants to give a little more effort. Here are a few examples that might get your wheels turning:
"Show me what you have left."
"Can you add more resistance?"
"For the next 30 seconds, I am giving you permission to get uncomfortable."
3. Ride on your own. Cycling for personal enjoyment — and not on the clock — gives us a chance to see and feel things from our students' perspectives. When we go breathless at the end of a time trial or struggle up a seemingly unending hill, we become better able to coach those same scenarios to our students. If you ride up a hill so steep that makes you want to get off your bike and walk - but you don't - use that same language when talking your students up a long climb.
4. Share personal stories. Real-life examples are a great way to break up the monotony of the same old cues. I remember riding with my husband this summer and thinking “Man, he is way ahead of me. But, then again, he is usually ahead of me.” And then I realized "This isn't very difficult. I could probably get closer to him if I work harder." Sure enough, I was able to catch up to him; I just needed a little kick in the pants. A few days later, I shared that story with my class as a reminder that, while our comfort zone is usually pretty cozy, we may be impressed with our abilities if we are willing to step out of it.
Making friends with a thesaurus is also never a bad idea :-). What techniques do you use to spice up your coaching?
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