n. cue  1.a. A reminder or prompting. b. A hint or suggestion.    tr.v. cuedcu·ingcue 1. To give a cue to; signal or prompt.

The Importance of Cueing

A central skill of any coach is the ability to deliver useful information to your athletes. And one of the best ways to do that is through the art of cueing. I say this because I think there is often a tendency among novice coaches to give too much information. More often than not your students do not care about the details of muscle insertion, or how the force of your momentum carries you up a wall, or the importance of Omega 3’s. No, what they’re interested in is the most effective way to progress and complete the tasks that you’ve set before them, whether those tasks are technique or strength based. And that is where cueing excels.

So, what are some rules of thumb we can follow when it comes to the art of cueing so that we can provide timely, precise information?

1)    Keep it simple.

The fewer words the better. Again, you’re student is not interested in the why, but the how.  So show them how. So stay away from presumed knowledge, stay away from technical terms, and break down complicated movements into simple, discrete steps. Seek to make associations in your students mind so that they can intuitively understand what it is you’re asking them to do.

2)    Keep it short.

A cue is a prompt or reminder – it is not an explanation.  A cue is provided while a student is in the midst of an exercise or movement, and it’s aim is to empower them to execute that task it with proficiency. As such, a cue should be no more than a few words. It needs to quickly cut through all the fluff and get right to the nitty-gritty.

3)    Make it actionable

We don’t want to overwhelm our students with information or extraneous detail. The final key of good cueing is providing insightful, timely information to the student when they need to adjust what it is they are doing as they’re doing it.  They need to be able to hear the cue and immediately understand those simple instructions so that they’re able to alter their movement accordingly.

So, there you have it -- three rules for good cueing: Keep it simple, keep it short, and make it actionable. I hope that you find them helpful and can use them to create your own cues.  To get you started, I’ve included some examples below.


Sample Cues:

 “Chest Proud” – This is a great cue that you can give anytime you want someone to maintain proper posture.

“Sit back (like you’re sitting in a chair)” – another great cue for anytime you want someone to get into a good 90 degree squat.

“Balls of the feet” – A classic that you hear in parkour circles, reminding students to land on the balls of their feet.

“Be soft/ be silent” – A great cue for when you want your students to pay more attention to what they’re doing.

“Knee drive, strong pull, press” – a good cue for fast and explosive climb ups.

“Muscles Engaged” – a good reminder to students, especially when they’re in a hanging position.

“Pretend like you’re walking on ice.” – A great cue for balance walking on railings or other narrow objects.