“Coaching is an action, not a title, and actions result in successes”
Success is undoubtedly a relative term that can only truly be defined by the athlete themselves, albeit with guidance from a coach who understands their performance parameters. Throughout my time as both an athlete and a coach, I have developed a coaching style which I unashamedly stand by and which I hope to outline below:
1. Communication is Key
Coaching is neither art nor science in my opinion. Rather, it is about utilising functions of both in order to ensure the best outcome for the athlete. Whilst purely objective measures such as power data, HRV etc. provide fantastic insight into the athlete and their levels of fatigue, the simple question of “how are you feeling?” can often provide more insight into the athlete then all of them combined. In order for a program to be truly adaptable and personalised to an athlete’s needs, I aim to ensure communication channels are constantly open and that feedback is a key foundation of our relationship so that the stressors outside of the simple physiological load of training can be accounted for and reflected in the training prescription.
2. Don’t be Afraid to “Copy and Paste”
No, this doesn’t mean giving two athletes the exact same program out of pure laziness! What it does mean, though, is that there is nothing wrong with prescribing an athlete with the same session or even same week more than once. Coaching is not about trying to create value through selling magic sessions and a program where one never does the same thing. Coaching is about identifying the needs of an athlete and developing a structure whereby these needs can be met. Consistency is the underlying factor amongst all stories of relative success and therefore should always be the key goal.
3. Stress is Stress
This is a point oft reiterated by coaches around the world, however I’ve still seen many programs that seem to ignore it. Understanding that each individual has a unique lifestyle that brings with it a completely different set of daily stressors is important in order to ensure that the overall balance is right from athlete to athlete. This furthers on from point 1 in that these factors must be clearly communicated between coach and athlete through constant feedback channels. Whether it be a crappy night’s sleep, a long day at the office, travelling for work, sick children or any of a million other things, don’t discount it and make sure the program changes to reflect it!
4. Don’t be Afraid to Try
As an athlete, I have tried many approaches and what works for me is completely different to what works for other athletes I know. The same goes for the athletes that I coach. The reality is that sometimes a bit of trial and error will need to take place before the right balance is struck and ensuring that the athlete is aware of my thought process surrounding decision making creates a foundation for us to take that route. Furthermore, I want my athletes to learn. My goal is not to coach them forever but rather to entrust my knowledge and skillset in them so that they can develop their own skillset. As a coach, this also means learning from each athlete and not falling into the “same old, same old.”
I am truly passionate about the work that I do as a coach in endurance sports and I have been extremely lucky to learn from some of the best throughout my journey. I only hope that I can help others achieve their goals and develop their own knowledge base through my coaching endeavours.
If you have any questions or enquiries, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
In my next blog, I hope to delve into my own “n=1” experience with a high fat, low carb approach to diet.