Picture this. You are at the box. You are rolling out and have the perfect view of everyone in the class before yours. You notice someone struggling with a front squat as his/her chest is so far forward making it almost impossible to stand back up. Or maybe you notice someone doing ring rows with a slouched back and you worry he/she is going to strain his/her shoulders. Do you say something? Perhaps if it is someone you know fairly well. But then again, maybe not. You think to yourself “I am not a coach or an expert so who am I to correct someone?”
Reset that line of thinking. Anyone should feel comfortable giving tips or recommendations to a fellow athlete especially when it comes to safety. Don’t be the guy who just cringes when seeing bad form and never says a thing to the offender directly.
Here are some guidelines that will give you the confidence to help a fellow athlete out:
1) It is advisable in cases where you see someone that needs a tip who you have not yet had a chance to meet, that you do introduce yourself before you go right into what you think is helpful mode. Nobody wants someone coming out of left field who they don’t know that it is not a coach screaming some obscure “tip” at them. There is no shame in helping someone in situations even if YOU are dropping into THEIR box as long as you at least establish a first name basis and are diplomatic about it (more in #3 below).
2) Safety first. Always. If you see someone performing a movement that is unsafe, say something to them! Or if you are not comfortable doing that, tell the coach so he/she can work with the athlete.
3) Don’t be a jerk about it. It’s all in the delivery anytime you give feedback (whether it’s at the box or outside). Avoid saying things like “dude you are doing that all wrong.” or “Oh man that was ugly.” Be helpful about your feedback. If you are noticing something is off, you should be able to pinpoint what the problem is. Tell that to your fellow athlete. Give specifics. Make your feedback helpful and in terms that they can use to correct it. Example: “You were so close to getting that kipping pull up. You had momentum but lost it right before your chin got over the bar. Try to keep that momentum going and you will have it.” Be positive and there is a good chance your assistance will be warmly received.
4) Know when to say it. If your fellow athlete was doing a movement wrong but safety wasn’t being compromised, you do not necessarily need to tell them right there and then. Maybe they weren’t clapping on their burpees or didn’t do an honest push up. You can wait until the metcon is over to correct them or give a tip for the next time they have that movement in a workout.
Since we are talking about giving feedback, I want to add a quick comment on how to receive feedback. Be gracious about it. Know the other person is coming from a good place so do not let your ego get in the way of accepting something that could potentially help you improve.