Coaches and trainers are really educators specializing in human movement, so it’s central to our success—and that of our clients—to build a fluid understanding of how humans learn to move and how we can influence their learning.

For starters, we have to develop a strong grasp of the language of movement and the right way to deliver instructions in the proper sequence. But that’s not enough. We also need to optimize our instructions in order to overcome the brain’s tendency to foul up a movement if a client’s attention gets focused on the wrong things.

Proper cuing and attentional focus can give your lessons more staying power.

Getting instructions to really sink in with clients requires an understanding of the most effective means of communicating movement. At its most basic, this communication has three components:

  • instructions on how to perform a movement
  • feedback on how to refine the movement
  • short cues that remind clients about key aspects of the movement pattern

For all of these to work, clients have to be paying attention to what you’re saying. It’s vital that they are looking at you and intently listening before you convey important information. A simple way to facilitate this is to call your clients by their first names, because we are primed since birth to respond to our name. As every mom knows, we pay more attention when we are called by name.

To read a more in-depth discussion about why instructions may not be getting through to your clients and how to fix it, please see “Attentional Focus & Cuing” in the online IDEA Library or in the May 2015 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.

Nick Winkelman, MS

Nick is the Director of Education at AthletesÔÇÖ Performance where he oversees all mentorship education courses and is a full-time strength and conditioning coach. Nick has a diverse coaching background within the sports performance field working with NFL Combine Preparation, Tactical Athletes, Fire Fighters and many other sports. Nick has had the opportunity to work with the Oregon State Baseball Team that won the 2006 College World Series and was the Strength Coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates Rookie League team in Bradenton, Florida. During his time in Florida, Nick trained under Aaron Mattes, internationally acclaimed stretching authority and developer of Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) Technique. Nick is currently completing his Masters in Strength and Conditioning through Edith Cowan University and through his education has been published in the UK Strength and Conditioning AssociationÔÇÖs Journal and presented at the NSCA National Conference.

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