Your words have power, so make sure you mean what you say. Make sure you know what it is you are asking of your students, and that you are serious about what you are asking them to do. Students take what you say seriously. This coaching article examines the power of your words when you ask for a “sprint” or for a “maximal effort.” I am adamant that indoor cycling coaches use the term “sprint” correctly. But how many instructors truly know the real meaning of the term? Because of the fact that “sprinting” is so often overused and overdone in classes all over the world, many students are misinformed about what real sprinting means or how to do it. As a result, they never learn to sprint properly, and they don’t get the physiological benefits.
This is not an article about how to sprint properly (although a technique article is in the works by expert sprinter Tom Scotto, so you can expect that soon). Rather, I want to discuss two things about our word choices when we coach, and specifically, when we are asking for high-intensity efforts. These two things are:
- Using the proper terminology when we ask for something
- Is what we are asking even plausible?