Tips For Being an Effective Level Method Coach

Your members pay and choose to be at your gym. They could easily choose not to be at your gym. Often they choose your gym because they get the individualized coaching & accountability they would not get anywhere else. 

A solid levels-based program enables you, as a coach, to focus more on providing higher quality coaching to each member.  It eliminates the stress about how to approach each individual. 

Here are some helpful tips to elevate your member experience:

  1. Each member should have at least 1 piece of constructive feedback for every class they attend, whether there are 2 people or 15 people in the class. Fewer people means more opportunity to provide feedback. Feedback is not cheerleading (“Good job, ______!”), but rather something to implement when they perform their next movement (“Push your feet into the floor, ______”). A cue to the whole class during a demo does not count.  Individual cues need to be personally addressed.

If you’re finding it difficult to notice a fault in the athlete but want to get feedback, consider:

  • asking how the lift or movement felt.
  • reinforcing something they did well during the movement, so they continue to do it (e.g. “your bar path looks really straight, great job keeping it close to you”)

Even if someone is moving well already, people appreciate getting any type of feedback -- they may have not even thought about the cue you notice. Promote virtuosity of movement as much as possible, even if it looks like the class is moving generally well. 

  1. Say each member’s name at least 3 times during the class. Hearing your name is music to your ears -- it makes you feel seen and recognized as an individual. You can do this by saying “Hi _________” as they walk in, or by mentioning their name when you give a coaching cue.
  1. Run on schedule: Understand the workout, and the time it takes to complete each section, prior to coaching the class. The Level Method program provides general timing guidelines at the top of each workout portion, to approximate how long you should dedicate to it. 
  1. Adjust how you coach someone based on their goals & intentions. Some people want to be pushed more, while others are there just to get in a sweat and hang out with friends. You should have a general idea of each person’s goals -- if you don’t know, ask them, so they don't feel pressured into something they're not interested in doing. (Hint: a goal-setting session every few months, or right after an assessment period, helps you to stay fresh on what they currently want to work on.) 

While we all want everyone to have picture-perfect technique, not everyone has the same body proportions or looks the same in every position. What’s most important is that we address safety cues (i.e. is someone really deadlifting with a rounded back or grinding too heavy a weight with poor form?).  Don't try to fix efficiency details for someone that may just generally have a hard time doing it, or who may not want a competitive advantage. If athletes are scaling to their Assessed Level, they are more likely to focus on improving efficiency, and are less likely to run into safety issues due to weight or movement being beyond their capabilities 

  1. Use positive direction: Tell the person what to do versus what not to do. Getting the habit of clear speech takes practice.  It helps to describe what a good movement looks and feels like. 


“Don’t bend your arms”  => “Keep your arms straighter”

“Don’t bend your knees when you lower the deadlift”  => “Keep your knees back/straighter on the way down”

Along those lines, Omit language that describe’s someones movement as a fixed, negative trait (i.e. “Your squat looks like garbage”).  Instead, rephrase it to acknowledge that their movement has room to improve (i.e. “Your squat could be better if you did XYZ”).  It's helpful to address something the person did well, then follow it with a thing they can improve. 

Some phrases to use for ‘growth-mindset’ language:

  • “Your lift could be even more powerful if you did XYZ.”
  • “Your chest was very upright, and try to get a bit lower next rep.”
  1. During the class, make efforts to connect more in-depth with at least one person. Bonus points if this is someone who you haven’t worked with as often yet, or whom you don’t know much about. 
  • Hint: Ideally, know every member’s “FORD” - Family, Occupation, Recreations & Dreams. If you don’t know even one of these, here is an opportunity to ask!
  • If you can’t think of anything, an easy starting point is to ask how their day/weekend went, if they have plans for the weekend, etc.  
  1. Know generally where your members’ capabilities & Levels are for any class, and adjust the workout briefing, based on who is there.  If you have a class full of mostly high-level, Purple+ athletes, you can go more into workout strategies and higher-level considerations. However, if there are earlier Levels or newer athletes (White through Orange), take more time explaining details and basics of movements. Experienced members will still gain from hearing the basics, as often we forget some cues over time. 

Overall, having programming where members know exactly where they are Level-wise, and what specific variations to pick, reduces what you have to worry about as a coach. Gone are the days when the stimulus wasn't clear and everyone in class lifted a different weight, and you had to guesstimate what someone should use for, say, hang power cleans.  Levels-based programming gives the athlete that information, allowing you to focus on improving movement and forming relationships with your athletes.