What Makes a Good Coach?

As seen in USA Triathlon Multisport Lab

There are many more coaches available to the general public now then there were a few years ago, which can make finding the right coach a tough decision.  Some coaches either are or were pro athletes themselves, but does that make them a better coach then someone who is an average athlete or doesn’t participate in the sport at all?

The answer is no.

If you’re wondering why that’s the case, ask yourself – “Do I want Michael Phelps as my coach?  Or Michael Phelps’ coach Bob Bowman?”

Some of the best coaches in the world have never reached the level their athletes have reached.  Not all Olympic coaches were elite level athletes, but they know how to get their athletes there.

Coaching is an art and a science.  It’s about seeing potential in someone and being able teach and push your athletes just the right amount.  It’s about knowing an athlete’s weaknesses and strengths and developing that athlete to their potential.
Coaches wear many hats.  We’re leaders, motivators, teachers, psychologists, and cheerleaders.

So what should you look at when deciding on a coach?
Here’s a list to get you started:
  • Education and Experience
  • Certifications
  • Attention to detail
  • Understanding of physiology & biomechanics
  • Understanding of both daily & sport nutrition
  • Understanding of training program design
  • Understanding of sport psychology

Don’t overlook whether or not a coach is certified in the sport.  Certified coaches have invested their time and money into their profession.  They are required to recertify in order to keep that certification, and good coaches always continue to learn.

After looking at all this, you still need to know if you and the coach are a good fit.  The best way to do this it to talk to the coach; don’t be afraid to reach out.

A few traits you may want to consider when looking at a coach:
  • Honesty
  • Passion for what they do
  • Inspiring
  • Respectful

USA Triathlon has made it easy for triathletes to find a coach with their Find a Coach page.
Other resources you can check include USA Track & Field’s Registered Coaches List
and National Strength & Conditioning Association’s Find a Trainer page.

Getting a coach is a good investment and the different price levels will depend on what you need as an athlete. But those prices do depend on quite a few things:
– Are they a full-time coach or are they part-time?
– What’s the background, certifications & education of your coach?
– How much interaction do you need from your coach?
– How much adjustment do you need in your training?
– How often do you want your training sent to you?

All of this affects the price. You definitely want to reach out to a coach to talk to them to see what they offer, how they work with their athletes and to discuss what you’re looking for.

If you’re looking to work with a professional, check out our endurance coaching.

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