Like choosing the perfect ice cream flavor, picking the right coach for you doesn’t necessarily happen on the first try. You might have a flavor that sounds really good but doesn’t taste quite like what the description portrays, or you might have one that is really great but just isn’t that ice cream you rush to grab off the shelves.
As a coach myself and someone that has been through multiple processes and hurdles to find my perfect coach, here are my tips for choosing a coach that’s right for you.
Make a list and do your research.
First things first, make sure you start the coach hunt with a list of coaches that fit your basic requirements. For example, the sport you are training in, whether you’d prefer remote or in-person, your experience expectations, if you have a gender preference, price range expectations, how much communication you want with your coach, etc. These will create a very basic starting list to work off of.
Look for reviews.
Look or ask for reviews. This will give you a good idea of what their current or former athletes have experienced. For me, communication with my coach is a top priority to me. When looking for a coach, if I saw a review that stated anything about not hearing from their coach, or if there was a communication limit (limit to one email a month, etc is a format a lot of coaches use), I knew immediately I could cross that coach off my list. Of course, reviews from friends are the best but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the coach they use or the friend they recommend is the right coach for you, so keep that in mind.
Figure out the training style you like.
Do you like someone that will be on you and give you constructive criticism or someone that will be your undying positive cheerleader? (Not that you can’t have both) As an example, if you don’t like tough love you don’t pick a coach who embodies that style, or vice versa. How do you know a coaches training style? The best way to find out is to ask! “How do you give feedback to your athletes?” Make sure they fit your personality.
I cannot stress this enough. Your coach should be someone who you can talk to and be yourself with. They will be a big part of your life and their personality needs to mesh with your needs. Personally, I can say anything to my coach and feel confident that he will understand my weird quirks and awkward jokes. That is exactly what makes us mesh so well and makes our coaching relationship run smoothly. To do this, make sure you talk to your coach on the phone. Ask them questions and be fully yourself.
Trust is the key to all relationships and that doesn’t end at the coaching relationship. You cannot have an athlete-coach relationship without trust - it’s a two way street. Why is trust important in this situation? As a coach, I NEED to know what is going on with my athletes and I need to trust that they will tell me how they are feeling, how their body is feeling, what is going on in their lives and they need to trust that I will be there to support them and hear them no matter what.
Ideally, a coach-athlete relationship spans years and in the course of that time you will go through many life changing circumstances, hurdles and wins. Picking the right coach is key to your development as an athlete from not only the physical but the emotional and mental side of athletics. Hopefully these tips will help guide you to your perfect fit!