Using a Coach in 2011 – Top 10 Considerations

Posted on 09 November 2010

There are benefits to using a coach that should be evaluated if you need different perspectives on your training and racing to reach your goals.  Of course the alternative is to self build your program with the information available through the internet, books, and resource guides.  Keep in mind, there is not one training program or magic coach that works for everyone.   The most important aspect I have found when helping other athletes and for myself is – Consistent Training over a period of time. 
Here are some items to consider when thinking of a coach for your 2011 season.
  1. A coach may provide unique perspectives on your training programs to help you reach another level.  
  2. Some coaches are very expensive and the question becomes a cost/benefit analysis.
  3. An experienced coach who is actively racing is important in my mind.
  4. A specific planned program can be beneficial to ensure you have a structure (but must be flexible) and a resource to review what’s the most effective program based on your personal background.  If a coach does not offer a structure for goal setting and actually writing down specific categorized goals – find another one!
  5. Coaching is not just sending an email with the weeks workouts, it’s about building a partnership/relationship over time to achieve specific goals.
  6. Does the coach have any experience with the most overlooked aspect of training – mental performance training.   What specific skills, tools will they incorporate?
  7. Be aware of various fees for speaking with a coach “live” outside of the normal weekly conference calls.
  8. Testimonials are great but remember not many coaches will provide a reference of a negative testimonial.
  9. Coaching credentials may be an asset but not always.  I have met so many coaches over the years that have initials after their name and are so focussed on marketing their 10 certifications but have no interpersonal skills, have only been active in the sport for 3 years and don’t race.  I am a fan of the 10,000 hours approach and long term experience “within your specific sport”.  
  10. Is the coach overwhelmed by the demands of too many clients and no time for personal questions or even a phone call.
I have raced for 25 years and have used a coach for the last 15 years.  For me, it works  and as a lifetime learner I view  it as a constant education process.  Having a coach is not for everyone.   I see so many athletes spending tons of money with un-qualified coaches and the coaching services include sending the standard email training program and a conference call every few weeks.  
REMEMBER – you are the customer!   Make sure your have a coach that might actually call (not email) you to a incorporate something different and go off the training program for a couple days. Proactive feedback is key and something I believe in doing with athletes I work with with coaching programs.
Athletes who I have coached over the years have asked me why do I need a coach, after all my years racing and training.  The answer is that I like the interaction and partnering with my coach to build creative training programs.   Don’t hesitate to email me if you want some objective opinions on a specific coaching programs,


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