Sometimes the best cue is no cue.

Jun 22, 2022

This article is an excerpt from Coach Brendon Rearick's new book "Coaching Rules: A How-To Manual for a Successful Career in Strength & Fitness" Rule #11: Sometimes the best cue is no cue. 

There are times people just need to feel and figure something out for themselves. Working with new coaches gives me a front row seat to a variety of cueing sermons, and I can tell you that over-coaching can be as much of a problem as not coaching enough.

When it comes to cueing, less is more. Save the sermon for before or after the workout if you have a point to make.


A few general guidelines:

You don't need to say something every rep.

Coach Todd Bumgarner wrote,“Let the first rep suck.” I agree: Give people a chance to experience a few reps or sets, even when their form is not ideal. Then, ask them how the movement felt. Now pick one thing to work on. Only one.

Don't bombard your clients with five things to change or improve. Pick the simplest fix, and then shut up.

Address the most egregious error first.

Let them attempt the change. Better yet, take a video of the action so they can see it for themselves.


Here's an example of when this rule works well: coaching med ball throws.

“I want you to take this medicine ball and throw it as hard as you can against the wall. Like this (demo). Take your whole day out on that wall!”

The athlete does 10 reps while you stay silent.

“Great! Try doing a bit more of this on your next set (demo one thing that could be better). Throw it as hard as you can.”


If you give people 10 things to focus on, they'll focus on nothing. Give one cue at a time.


Here's how to do it:

Say what you need to say in 20 seconds or less.

Demo three to five good reps. The weight you use doesn't matter, but your demo does.

Shut up and let the person do it. After a few reps, step in and provide feedback or give simple external cues. Learning comes from doing as much as it does from watching and listening.

Of course, if it looks like they may hurt themselves, step in to help!


Go through your process again, and if you're not seeing improvement, make the exercise easier.


Tell me, I forget. 

Show me, I remember. 

Involve me, I understand. 

~ Chinese Proverb


If you're interested in the other #104 Coaching Rules by Movement As Medicine co-owner and CFSC Coach Brendon Rearick you can read more at 

Brendon can be contacted at