It’s important for coaches to be familiar with obstacle progressions. In weight lifting, athletes don’t start at the heaviest weight. They need to slowly increase the weight they can lift and progress to heavier weights. Obstacles are the same. Athletes can’t start at the hardest obstacles. They need to progressively increase their techniques and conditioning before they can complete the hardest obstacles.

In this section, we will introduce some general principals coaches can follow to progress athletes once they are able to execute a specific technique. Later, we will provide some specific examples of how to progress athletes from established techniques to new and more challenging techniques that build off of fundamental techniques.

Individual Technique Progressions Chart

In an earlier section we discussed time and distance traveled on obstacles. There we learned techniques become more difficult the longer an athletes is executing them. Additionally, we learned techniques become more challenging the further the distance an athlete needs to travel. As a coach you can use this information to design and appropriately progress an athlete on a specific technique.

The chart displayed here helps to show how a coach could scale a technique to provide a progressive challenge for an athlete.

The arrow starts with the easiest setup for a technique. The easiest setup would be a close and short training circuit. The arrow then finishes with the hardest setup; one where the athlete travels a long distance over a long period of time.

A coach could also design a station that makes a technique harder for an athlete by increasing the distance the athlete needs to travel or the time the athlete spends with the obstacle. Similarly, the coach could make a circuit easier by decreasing the distance the athlete needs to travel and/or the time they spend on the obstacle.

Understanding this simple concept can help coaches improve an athletes proficiency on any given technique. It’s important coaches can challenge athletes appropriately and work with each individual to improve the techniques they are working on. Progressive scaling can also help improve the athletes conditioning and in some cases lead to the strength needed for new techniques.

Obstacle Difficulty Progression Table

In an earlier section we discussed how obstacle stability, hold