For athletes, having a coach is not, in the basic meaning of it, a necessity. You will progress without one. However, having a coach will make a huge difference to your experience as an athlete. A good coach will make all the difference to your training and competing. Having a coach can be a powerful tool in the pursuit of athletic success.
A good coach is a teacher, a mentor, an inspiration, and an expert resource. Your coach will help you set goals, create your training plan, establish routine, and keep you motivated.
Your coach will have the sport specific knowledge to set goals and to establish a training plan to reach those goals. When selecting your coach you should look for someone who has the right knowledge and experience to help you reach your goals. Find someone who will coach you the way you want to be coached.
Your coach will work with you to establish both long and short term goals. Your coach can provide expert guidance to ensure that your goals are realistic and attainable. The goals are yours, but your coach will join you in your journey. This will help to set you up for success.
A good coach will set a comprehensive training plan for you. This plan will be long term road map to guide your training. It will be designed to reach your goals and be flexible to account for unexpected variations to your life like illness, injury, or anything else that pops up along your journey. It will provide the structure in which your training can be adjusted to match your progress and needs. It will be the framework for establishing routines, an important part of a successful training program.
Routines are important. Most successful athletes follow well established routines. With all of the variables that life can throw at you having established routines can provide stability and focus for your training (and life). For more on the importance of routine read an article written by my friend and colleague, Mike Neill.
Your coach should be an expert in your sport; someone who knows what it takes to be successful. A good coach has the ability to recognize weaknesses in technique and strategy and help you to correct these weaknesses. Sometimes practicing wrong is worse than not practicing at all as it can ingrain bad habits and behaviours. Your coach can correct and improve on your weaknesses before they become entrenched.
Having a coach is an added reason “why” you are getting it done. Your coach is the administrator of your training plan. He/she will set your training schedule and individual workouts. Your coach will make observations and solicit feedback from you about the effectiveness of each workout and your achievements and progress. Your coach will hold you accountable by giving you workout and feedback reminders.
There are many ups and downs in a typical training season for most athletes. There are days when the desire just isn’t there. Illness and injury add roadblocks to your success. Doubts creep in that sometimes cause you to question your motivation. A coach is there to help you over these hurdles. A coach can help you to see past your roadblocks and overcome your doubts. Your coach knows your goals and the plan to achieve them and can re-focus you on the journey.
As well as being able to re-motivate you intrinsically, a good coach will provide extrinsic motivation. Established, specific goals for individual workouts and for training cycles give you targets to shoot for. Explaining the purpose and rational for specific workouts helps push us through difficult training sessions.
Even the most knowledgable athletes rely on the guidance and support of a coach. The expert knowledge and accountability that working with a coach provides will make you a more successful athlete.