Great Coaches Focus on Form

Earlier in this series, I talked about how I believe that great coaches prevent injuries. I want to dig a bit deeper into that by saying that great coaches prevent injuries by focusing on form. A better way to put it:

How much a Coach cares about form is likely much as they care about preventing injuries.

This statement comes off as a bit spicy, and it should. Many folks are going to say they don’t want their students or clients to get injured. But the less a coach cares about form, the more they’re opening up folks to the possibility of getting injured.

So, Exactly Is Form?

Form, ultimately, is the process you go through to accomplish something.

We all have our ways of getting something done. Whether that’s good or bad, we can consider form how we get it done. Form is both the mental approach and the physical implementation of a task.

Good form can help you do things you never thought was possible. Bad form can leave you set back and injured. A lot of influence around how you approach form comes from those that coach us.

Many folks are never coached and they don’t understand how to best approach this problem. Others might even have bad coaches that teach them the wrong kind of forms.

Last year, I took some time to read through The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It’s a really interesting read because it talks about how we develop habits but also how we modify bad habits.

One of the defining pillars of the book for me was the idea of how we stop bad habits. In society, we talk about “killing” habits or “eliminating” them from our lives. However, Charles Duhigg comes along with the idea that we’re actually modifying those habits - not eliminating them.

This is why we sometimes seem bad habits re-emerge in later times. Our brains never forget these ideas, rather we train them to focus on something different and hopefully better.

We’re never going to “eliminate” a bad habit or form. Instead, the goal is to write over them with better habits. Great coaches understand this idea and want to work with folks to make sure this is the case.

Developing Good Form

When we talk about developing good form, we’ve got to first define what good form is. I hinted at the idea that good form is something that prevents injuries from happening while dealing with a workload. This is a great start, but I want to expand it further. Good form can be defined by three pillars:

  • It prevents injuries
  • It builds potential for you to take on larger workloads or problems
  • Its sustainable and repeatable

We’ve already talked about preventing injuries fairly extensively. However, the point I’ll add here is that its value is really shown off at higher workload levels. For example, I often don’t see the benefits of good form until I’m lifting a higher weight. There’s a certain level of work that I really can’t handle without good form.

This leads into the idea of good form being able to allow us to take on those larger workloads. When you tackle something with an effective form or process, you’re tackling your problems and ideas in a way that clears things in an effective manner.

For example, I tend to take a lot of personal notes when working on apps or issues during my workday. Not only does it help me learn, but it helps me track what exactly is going on with all of these problems. A customer might come back with some questions about a solution we found and I can either dig through my memory of what it was or take a look at my notes.

I find myself most effective when I’m taking notes on my daily work. I find myself most confused and stressed out when I’m trying to piece together events of something I forgot to take notes on.

Not only do I find this helps me from burning out at work and taking on more and more customer issues, I’m finding it makes my workday sustainable - even enjoyable. It’s something I can come back to day after day and find myself getting more effective at. In short, great coaches enforce this ideas to create a form that’s sustainable for years to come.

Developing Good Form from The Start

Sometimes, we’re lucky enough to have the ability to start building good form with something we’re learning from the ground up. This is really exciting because we don’t have to go through the hard work of overwriting a bad habit or form.

The downside to this is we’re having to acquire a new skill and go through the idea of learning how to maintain good form when doing it. The two seem more intertwined than they actually are.

There’s a lot of information to parse when you’re learning to do something new and trying to remember the “best” way to accomplish it. We can often sacrifice the form in favor or just learning to do something in general. Great coaches are going to hold you to both of these disciplines. It might take a lot more time to get it right, but once you do you’ll be building on a solid foundation.

Fixing Bad Form

On the other side of things, we have the idea of fixing something that’s already established. We often refer to this as “Fixing Bad Form”.

Great coaches are going to work on undoing the grip that bad habits have while empowering you to grasp new and better habits. They’re going to be the first to tell you that something isn’t quite up to part and will prevent you from taking on normal workloads until you do it right.

A thing I often notice in myself when being coached - but also from watching others being coached - is that there’s a lot of personal pride that sticks out in this case. We often want to operate at our normal workloads and pacing but to get good form right, we’re got to stop and peel back the pace for a bit.

I really funny thing I’ve noticed is how sometimes doing something with good form might feel more work at first. I see this with lifting weights where doing something the right way results in more muscle burn at first. This is mostly because I’m often exercising and stretching a part of myself I never really invested in before.

Eventually, after restarting with a better habits, they often end up gaining momentum that helps us propel to higher heights than before. In many ways we’re scaling things back so that we can scale higher. There’s something truly special about that kind of momentum.

Maintaining Form

If our journeys with our coaches go as expected, we’ll find ourselves - if at least for a moment - with some really great form. So, how do we maintain it? Our coaches won’t always be around working with us.

A really crucial motivator with maintaining good form is remember what it affords you: the ability to effectively do work. Sometimes we learn this by slacking off a bit and having trouble with normal workloads. But I’ve found I’ve valued good form the most whenever I’m dealing with work and still feeling fulfilled and effective at the end of the day.

There’s no metric for this, but I feel its important to talk about. Being happy with the work you do and how you do it is such a personal thing. However, great coaches can teach us to unlock parts of us we never knew possible!