…unless you're Han Solo. Because that’s the best scene ever and one of the very few instances where those two words are an appropriate reply.
As a coach, when I hear someone say “I know," I’m hearing someone shutting down and shutting me out.
Think about it. I’m trying to help you with a movement so I come over and give you a cue. Let’s say you need to move your feet a little wider when you squat. So that’s what I say. And you reply...
So, either you really did already know and decided to not adopt a more stable, safer position or you didn’t really know but you want me to leave you alone and move along and help someone else in class. Either way…WTF?
Here are my three ideas to cure the “I know" bug:
- have an open mind
- put improvement ahead of ego
- see #1
But a good coach doesn’t accept the first answer and always tries to find the underlying issue with any misaligned movement, even when the movement is initiated from the vocal cords and through the lips.
The first question I now ask myself is: am I truly approaching this athlete from a helping state of mind and not out of frustration or (gasp) from my own ego-driven need to sound smart?
The next question is: is there an unspoken “but" after the “know"? As in, “I know but my left knee feels kind of unstable when I do that." Some of my athletes are so eager to do well that they are reticent to mention an issue until it becomes a chronic problem. “I know" is now my cue to delve in deeper.
The other question I ask is: does the athlete already think they are doing what I am cueing or do they understand it intellectually but can’t translate that into their mechanics? In either case, a simple “let me see it, again" would lead to a better understanding.
And, in the end, that’s what my job is all about: a better understanding…of movement…of people…and, especially, of that one person standing in front of me at that very moment.
Maybe they are saying “I know" to shut me out but, as a coach, I’m not allowed to accept that.
In an ideal world, coach and athlete approach the training with an open mind and an open heart and seek only improvement whatever form that might take.
But this is far from a perfect world. This I know.