What Makes A Good Coach Great?
What makes a great coach? Or what makes a coach great? I finally know after many years of working with a variety of coaches. Each time I started to work with a new coach, I would have high hopes and think that I had met the best coach. Inevitably, after working with the coach for a period of time, I would find that I wasn’t making as much progress as I had hoped. I also would get discouraged and wonder if the program that was designed for me was the right one. I hated the feeling of always having to second-guess my coaches and to constantly be re-evaluating what I was doing. My last coach, whom I trained with on and off for a number of years, really caused me to believe that my lack of progress was my own fault.
When I look back at my previous coaches and trainers, I realize that I never asked them the right questions. You don’t know what you don’t know and that was the situation for me. Coaches have their own approaches and coaching philosophy and your success is dependent on making sure that their approach aligns with your goals. Also, there are temperaments to take into account and personalities. I got discouraged by my last coach who seemed to be critical. So rather than celebrate small successes, she was always telling me how much work was ahead before I could see an improvement. I guess this was her way of making sure I followed the plan; all it did was make me feel defeated. Be sure your styles match.
My lucky day happened when I read Diane’s article on Women’s Cycling. I had trained with Diane over 10 years ago and lost track of her. I reconnected with Diane and explained my situation. I had been cycling seriously for 2 years but had hit a wall with speed and distance. It didn’t seem to matter what I did; I couldn’t improve. Diane knew after our first meeting what I needed to do. I have followed her program for 2 months and am riding faster and stronger than I ever have.
So, what makes Diane different and what makes for a great coach?
1) Your coach must not only know your sport; your coach needs to participate in your sport. This is the primary advantage I found with Diane. Unless your coach cycles, she will never really understand the physiology of what is needed to be a fantastic cyclist. It’s all theoretical to a non-cycling coach. Also, the coach can never really know why you aren’t achieving your goals. They can only guess and often they guess wrong. Diane understood instantly as only an accomplished and experienced cycling coach knows.
2) Your coach has got to understand the reality of your life. So many coaches expect you to dedicate most of your free time to training. And if you can’t, then they make you feel like a failure or like somebody who just isn’t committed enough; somebody who deserves to see poor results. Diane never did that. She understood my work schedule and that sometimes life gets in the way. Diane supported me by never criticizing me if I missed a training session. She simply adjusted my training schedule accordingly. In fact, her flexibility has resulted in my working hard to maintain the training routine.
3) Your coach should always be in dialogue with you. Most coaches will see you once a week and that’s it. What happens in between is your problem. I’ve had coaches not reply to my emails or phone messages. Coaches who will not communicate with you without an additional fee. Everything is about the money with these coaches.
Diane and I are in constant communication. She wants to know how each training sessions goes. If I have a problem, Diane is immediately there to help me resolve it. She demonstrates her commitment to you but being available, checking in, and going more than the extra mile.
4) Your coach has to care as much about your success as you do. You have to be more than just a source of business to your coach. Diane is as committed to my success as I am. She shows this to me by encouraging me, challenging me and being more supportive of me than I am of myself. She helps me to keep my training and my goals in perspective. When I get frustrated, Diane is there to encourage me. When I feel I can’t step up to the next level, Diane will be there to reassure me that I can do it.
5) Every coach has a coaching or training philosophy. It’s important that you find out what your coach’s philosophy is. You might ask them about their expectations- how often do they believe a person should train. What is their view of missed training sessions; do you they belief this is understandable because we all have other commitments. Or do they think training is a priority and you should work your life around that. Will they customize the training program to reflect your life and how you live. For example, will they use the equipment you have on hand and adapt the program accordingly. Or will they require you to go out and buy special equipment to suit their program. All of these are important considerations on whether you adjust to the coach or the coach adjusts to you. The latter is what you’re after.
Finding the right coach can mean the difference between not only loving your sport or not. It can mean the difference between success and failure. The wrong coach can take your aspirations and crush them. The right coach can take your doubts and lead you to victory.
To contact Coach Diane (which I highly recommend) firstname.lastname@example.org