Identifying your Coaching Needs

May 3, 2016 Love Velo cc Road Cycling

Are you considering some coaching? Racehub manager Claire Shea-Simonds is an experienced Ironman athlete who has twice competed at the World Ironman Championships in Kona as an age grouper. Claire gives us some points to consider.


I’ve been asked a few times lately about how identify a coach and it’s not an easily answered question as it very depends on your goals, experience, understanding of the coach-athlete relationship and what you want from a coach, but I have tried to pull together a few thoughts on the matter:

1. Be clear on what YOU want from the coaching relationship; are your goals clearly defined and performance orientated? Are you well motivated? Do you in fact need reining in? Do you need someone to kick your a**? Do you need a cheerleader? There are as many coaching philosophies and styles as there are coaches out there and finding the right match isn’t always easy.

2. Coaches and athletes are not robots. Positive coach-athlete relationships require open and frequent communication. You don’t need to be best mates with your coach but you do need to be able to communicate effectively – in short you need to get along with your coach. Like any relationship the coach-athlete relationship can take time and may need to be worked upon. I would be cautious of taking on a coach who doesn’t at least offer to meet with you in person before working with you.

3. Training data, metrics and results are all vital to evaluating training effectiveness but what does your coach know about you? Do you have regular contact with your coach and open, ongoing communication beyond just reviewing your training numbers? In reviewing your training your coach should be considering your emotional and psychological readiness for training alongside physiological progression and making adaptions to accommodate your lifestyle.

4. Give it time. Invested coaches need time to get to know their athletes… and not just their numbers! Experienced and knowledgable coaches will understand that physiological adaptation is highly individual, as is training response. Homogenised training programmes churned out and imposed on individuals regardless of their physiological profile, experience, lifestyle factors etc will result in sub optimal results. However, this process takes time and sometimes patience from the athlete, after all Rome wasn’t built in a day… and neither are Kona qualifications! I have been coached by Jack Maitland since 2008, it took 5 years for Jack and I to successfully secure my first Kona qualification in 2013, with a second Kona qualification following in 2014. Jack and I are about to embark on their 8th year as athlete and coach.

Claire is a Sports Science graduate studying an MSc in Coaching at Loughborough University. 

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