How do I pick a coach? Do I need a coach?

Once again, I turn on the laptop and read different social media sites to see the same questions are asked all over. I am not saying it is a bad thing; actually I want to say the opposite. It is a good thing to see these types of questions, but not the answers from some of the others. The question is how do I pick a coach? Do I need a coach? How do I know I am getting what I pay for with my coach? These are good questions but the problem is people are poking fun at the questions or saying you only need a coach if you are too lazy to train on your own. It is not the questions that have my dander up, but the nasty people who are putting others down.

How to pick a coach

There are different questions that can be asked and should be asked when getting a coach.

Virtual or Local?

Are any coaches local that will fit your training requirements? If, not then you will have to be ready to have an online coach. The local coach does make it easier to talk to and go over things in person. The face to face first meeting with your coach is the best way to make sure you both understand what each expects and can provide. These meetings can be done with your online coach via skype, text, email or phone call.

It is important to understand what you are getting from your coach, whether it is local or online. Most coaches offer different levels of coaching. The coaches need to make clear what their fees are and what each level offers their athletes. The athletes must make sure all their questions are answered before they sign an agreement with their new coach or coaches.

What is my coach training philosophy?

Yes, all coaches have a training philosophy, whether if they think they do or not. If the athlete believes in his/her power meter or does not believe in it, they should find a coach that believes the same or at least has the knowledge to train an athlete with or without a power meter. If the athlete is a strong runner and wants to focus on learning to be a strong cyclist, and the coach believes in make strong runners and not focusing on the bike leg as much, this is not a match. It is both the coach and the athlete responsibility to talk this out before an agreement is made.

How often and how do I contact the coach?

This is another question that needs to be answered when the athlete and coach sits down or talks for the first time. Back to the different levels, some coaches at the first level only allow “x” number of emails per month or phone calls per month, others at their top level allow unlimited contact. This needs to be agreed upon at the beginning, both coach and athlete need to make sure the other is in agreement.

Which is more important to you, experience, certifications, or education?

Some coaches have loads of experience, I know some that have several ironman or other triathlons under their belt or they never raced at all, or just a few times. Others have certifications from several different places or different sports. Some even have more degrees than they can mention. All it comes down to what is more important to the athlete or do you want a combination of the three. Would you rather have someone with loads of experience, certifications, or education or someone that has a little of all three? If you come from a running background maybe all you really need is a cycling coach or swim coach.

Do you think paying attention to details is more important?

I remember days in the Army, the leader would scream pay attention to the little details. Some people were so focus on the up-coming weapon’s qualifications that they would forget to do pre combat checks on weapons and gear. The person and his squad would get to the range and weapons would be dirty, soldiers would have forgotten field gear. This is the same in triathlon pre-competition checks are just as important as the race itself. That means a person is over focus on the “A” races and over looks little stuff like transition set up, pre-race food, or something else. The little details are just as important if not more important than the big picture.

Do I need a coach?

I think all athletes need a coach or at least a mentor. The best I’ve ever heard it explained was even fishermen that go to a stream to catch fish pay for a guide if they want to be effective. I am not saying that a person cannot do a triathlon if they do not have a coach. It is how effective and efficient you want to be. I can swim, but with a good mentor and coach, I swim a lot more efficient than I do without one. My bike leg is faster and my aero positon is more aero with a coach and mentor.

I am not sure if I answered any questions, I am sure I did not answer all your questions. If, you have any more or comments please I would like to hear them. Post them on my blog, Facebook or email me.

What should a good coach be?

Honesty is the most important. If you ask him or her question and they answer it with no real clue but BS themselves through it, you will know it. I am not saying a coach will straight lie to anyone, but sometimes even good leaders do not know their limits. Some do not want to that they do not know the answer to a question. They think that this show weakness but it is the opposite, a strong coach knows when they have to ask question from others and are not too proud to admit it.

A good coach should be passionate about what they do. If the coach is doing it for the money only, he or she is not doing it for the right reasons and that will most likely show. The coach needs to enjoy teaching, as well as analyzing their athletes’ data. They should use the data to assist their athletes when it comes to picking events.

A good leader and coach listens to the athletes and understands what exactly their goals in triathlons, or help them determine their goals if they are unsure. They may need to listen to athlete when things are not going as good as they would like. A coach has to listen during the good and bad times of their athletes. It’s easy to listen during the good times, but it becomes most important when an athlete is struggling.

Leaders and coaches should be inspiring, motivating, but not a babysitter. They need to know how to break down the data and motivate the athlete when the athlete is having a hard time or a rough week. That is part of the job, to keep the athlete motivated to stay on track and not fall off the wagon as it were.

Being respectful is one of the hardest things a person has to do in everyday life, and can be even harder when coaching. That is what a coach has to do, every day at home and with athletes. They must have an understanding of the individual’s lifestyle and beliefs. Some athletes do not and will not train or race on Sunday, this is fine and the coach has to respect the athlete’s beliefs. The athlete needs to be clear if they are not going to train on specific days due to family commitments, religion, or anything else, and they have to make sure where they are coming from.

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