Happy coach, happy life!
So you decided to make the jump, you have been training for a while but have hit a block in the road. You have set aside some pennies and made the choice to hire yourself a coach to take care of your performance. The question now is, what is expected of you entering these new waters, what must you do to receive the most from the service you are partaking in and how do you maximise the results you are working towards whilst building a meaningful connection with your coach!
As we all know coaching is a two-way street, it isn’t as simple as having a program thrown at you each week, if that is the extent of the service you are being provided in my opinion that IS NOT COACHING. Coaching must entail the provision of feedback, open dialogue and a certain element of support for the athlete involved. So no, buying someone’s oddly named E-book does not qualify you as being coached by that individual!
Yes, mass programs, E-books and everything in between certainly has a place as a low cost, low barrier of entry option to training, however, they do leave a lot to be desired in terms of possible outcomes and personalisation. So, when I say coaching, I am referring to a situation in which you have scheduled and frequent dialogue and interactions with an individual be that online or in person. This means that you are not only expecting a service to be provided regularly, but also have expectations put on yourself to provide the needed information to allow that service to roll over smoothly from check-in to check-in.
If at any point there is a lapse in communication and expectations are not met, be it on the end of the coach or you as an athlete the entire process can become much harder than need be. In saying that the first point I would like to touch on, is the ability and desire for clear communication within the process.
Depending on the service you are being provided and the availability of your coach, you should initially be given clear boundaries of when it is appropriate to be asking for feedback or conversing, be that on a designated check-in day or within a time frame of working hours.
If this is not provided to you always ask, this will ensure that you have a clear reference point for what the appropriate response time is going to be for anything you may submit. If you aware that your coaches working hours are between 8 am – 6 pm Monday to Friday, it sets the expectation that outside of those times communication may be less frequent or less detailed than if the same question was asked within working hours.
A similar situation can be drawn to those receiving in-person coaching, it is always going to be better to come into your sessions prepared with questions to ask as opposed to waiting until you remember them at 9 pm and sending a late message.
Once you have figured out the best time to get your information across and receive that feedback, it is also important for you as an athlete to identify what mediums you best learn and receive feedback. With everyone digesting information differently being able to come to your coach with a firm understanding with how you learn can be a large benefit in ensuring clear communication.
For some written cues are very hard to grasp, a short video, a call or even a diagram can help facilitate the understanding of different concepts. I have said before that what coaching boils down to is an individual trying to manifest training concepts within the physical form of an athlete, if those concepts are not understood, the practical application of them will ALWAYS be lacking.
This is a point which also ties into the initial selection of a coach and understanding if their style of communication is a fit for you, as broad a spectrum of information there is to teach, there is a larger selection of HOW to teach that information and that is what coaching is.
After clear boundaries and communication has been set, from here on out the rest of the relationship boils down to adherence. From personal experience, I can say very confidently that the overall strength of an athlete I am coaching does not correlate to the enjoyment I get out of coaching them. Yes, strong athletes are amazing to work with, however, the defining factor that either gives me a smile or a frown when checking roll around is adherence.
Nothing excites me more as a coach more than an athlete who is immaculate with their adherence and their receptiveness to the advice to the protocols I give.
Although coaches will endeavour to give an equal level of service across their athletes, it is the athletes who provide more information, have a greater adherence along with greater transparency with their lives will ALWAYS receive a better service. There is a fine line as a coach where yes, they are there to provide accountability and a swift kick up the ass when needed, however, they are not parents.
If they have to chase you up every week for the information you know you are expected to provide, the level of service provided will always be below an individual who is more diligent with their recording and submission of information.
The point of transparency comes not only with your successes but with your failures too, if within the reporting process you are purposefully being misleading or presenting information in a ‘favourable’ light to not disappoint your coach, everyone is going to lose in that situation. Regardless of how good an athlete is, the failures and bad days are going to come and your coaches will understand that and be sympathetic, however it is their job to make alterations to the plan that will put you in the greatest position for success, not outlining to them when you are struggling is not only stopping them from making the changes to help, but it is creating dissonance in communication and their ability to help you.
Once these clear boundaries and expectations have been set along with the establishment of good quality communication to help meet your needs as an athlete, the generation of an ongoing plan to deliver the results you want will become much easier to set in motion! From there, all that is left to do is put in the work and begin improving!