5 Top Tips On What To Look For In A Coach

If you've landed here, it's probably because you’ve been toying with the idea of enlisting the help of a coach. Either that or you’re just curious, which is equally cool too! Working with a coach isn’t just for the elites. Anyone can work with a coach to help you towards a goal or a specific event. Below I’ve put together 5 top tips on what to look for in a coach.

  • What is their experience?
  • This one is a tricky one as it sounds like the job you were declined for when you were 17 for having ‘little’ experience. How am I to gain experience if you don’t trust me enough to hire me and build my experience? There are many, many new coaches popping up nowadays. More so since the pandemic as the working from home, working for yourself and setting the rules becomes the ultimate goal for many people. You may find you come across someone with little experience in the coaching world so it’s crucial you get to know this person first. Just because they can swim, cycle or  run fast, does not qualify them to coach people. Are they passionate about what they’re doing and do you feel like they are truly invested in you and your goals? These are questions to ask yourself when coming across someone with minimal coaching experience. 

  • Can they walk the walk?
  • This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker question. Some of the worlds greatest coaches haven’t raced or competed in the event you’re looking to do. Take David Rudisha, 800m Word Record Holder’s coach for example. Brother Colm O’Connell, known as the ‘Godfather of Kenyan running’ and for good reason too. The athletes he has coached over the years include 25 world champions, Olympic Gold medallists, multiple world record holders and many national champions. However, Brother Colm isn’t a runner himself. In fact, he only ended up coaching after being handed a stopwatch by Peter Foster at a school he was teaching at and being told it’s all yours now after Peter left.

    It’s certainly beneficial to take a look into what your coach does do though. Are they a runner or triathlete themselves? Have they competed in events you’re looking to do and have a knowledge of the sport? What is their coaching experience and skill if they haven’t completed in the event I’m looking to do? With events such as ultra marathons and Ironmans, I’d strongly recommend working with someone who has experience of these events and knows exactly what will be expected of your body, heart and soul to complete them. Especially if it’s your first one. 

  • Do they get results?
  • The power of results! Is there social proof that your coach can get results with their clients? If you struggle to find this kind of information online, then I’d highly recommend asking the coach if they can give you examples of the results they’ve supported their athletes to achieve. Or better yet, see if you can identify someone who’s already worked with this coach and ask them what their feedback was and if they felt they could achieve their goals with this coach. Whilst every coach is different and success is not guaranteed, it’s worth checking if there's proof that they do get results for their athletes. But please do be open-minded with this one as a coach that didn’t particularly work for one athlete, could end up being your dream coach and perfect match!

  • What are their credentials?
  • Again another tricky question as coaching is currently unregulated in the UK and anybody can call themselves a ‘coach’.

    I do however believe this is set to change over the next few years and hope that governing bodies within our disciplines will introduce some sort of legislation for coaching. That being said, it’s always a good idea to ask the coach if they have any credentials or qualifications that might be relevant to support your decision if credentials are important to you. 

  • Do you connect with them?
  • Possibly the absolute most important question to ask yourself. The truth is, you will not ‘gel’ with every single coach you come across. It’s simple. Every coach has various ways of working and different coaching styles to get the best from their athletes. Some of these styles may not work for you and so it’s crucial you feel like you can connect with your coach. You need to feel like you will have a stable relationship during your time together. Make sure you have a conversation with your coach and get to know them before signing up.

    Hiring a coach is a big step and it comes with an investment. Not just a financial investment but a commitment one too. You have to ask yourself are you ready to work with a coach? Are you someone who will listen to what they say and take the actions on board? There’s no point giving away your hard-earned cash if you’re simply going to ignore your coach and do what you think is best.

    In my experience, the best relationship to work towards is an athlete:coach led relationship. This is where the athlete is hands on in telling their coach how training is going, how you’re feeling, what you’d like to achieve, how your training fits into your life, the races you’d like to target and so on. That way, your coach has everything to work with. They can build your plan accordingly and to what suits your lifestyle with your goals in mind. 

    I hope you’ve found these 5 top tips on what to look for in a coach useful and if you’d like to find out more about Stomp The Pedal coaching when it goes live, click here to join the waitlist.

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