Yesterday I wrote about why I got a coach and perhaps you’re considering hiring one as well. If so, I thought I’d share a few tips to help you in your search because trust me, all coaches are not created equal. Here are a few pointers that helped me along the way:
- Know What You’re Looking For – Do you need a coach that only provides a schedule? A coach that’s available 24/7? A coach that leads group workouts? A private coach? A local coach? The questions are endless, but start with the basics answered so you can steer yourself in the right direction.
- Know Your Budget – The sad but true story is that you have to pay a coach. Shocker! Determine how much you’d be comfortable paying each month and stick to your guns. Some coaches list pricing online, but most require you to contact them.
- Research, Research, Research – Put your mad Googling skills to use and do your homework! Research until your eyes turn blue about all of the various coaching options in your area. If you’re super organized, make a spreadsheet listing all of the potential candidates and their information, narrow them down, and then reach out to the ones that you think are potentials.
- Get Referrals – Before I even went in to meet Paul, I had a good sense that this would be a good fit. A friend highly recommended him and I believe that you should either get a referral, or ask to talk to other athlete’s that your potential coach has coached. Ask them all the nitty gritty questions about their experience and get their honest opinion.
- Email First, Then Meet In Person – Time is limited and you shouldn’t waste it meeting every coach in person. However, I’d strongly recommend not hiring a coach based solely off of email conversations. When I went to meet Paul (I believe I cancelled on him the first time, wait, I might have cancelled twice on him), we met at a coffee shop (PUBLIC PLACE!) where he definitely looked the part. Small, strong, thin build with a Powerbar Elite hat on and an Ironman jacket. Sure I judged a book by its cover, but I knew that I wanted an experienced, successful and accomplished Sherpa through this process. Plus, Paul just did a really good job at marketing himself and I can respect that.
- Ask Questions – This is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART and make sure to ask them in person. Here’s a list of some general questions, but also ask some as they pertain to your life, your race and the areas that are critical for you:
- How long have you been coaching?
- What coaching certifications/qualifications do you have?
- Is coaching your full time job? If no, how much time is dedicated to coaching per week?
- How many athletes do you coach at once?
- How many athletes do you currently coach? (I prefer a coach with a limited amount of athletes so I know he’s not spread too thin.)
- How many of your athletes have finished the races you trained them for? (Sure he could train 100 athletes, but if only 10 have actually finished, that’s a bad sign.)
- How many Ironman races have you raced? (You better tell me you’ve done more than one to qualify as my coach.)
- How many Ironman finishers have you coached?
- What online tools do you use to coach athletes? (This is to ensure that the coach is organized and “with the times", which is very important to me. If I text you, I hope you know how to text too.)
- How quickly do you usually respond to your athletes questions?
- How often can and how do your athletes communicate with you? (Some coaches charge based on how often and how you contact them – email vs. phone – I think this is a bunch of CRAP! Get a coach who has one flat fee and welcomes all modes of communication.)
- What are your qualifications/experience?
- What is your monthly pricing model?
- How do you help your athletes find balance?
- How do you help your athletes prevent burnout?
- What is your approach for race day execution?
- Will you be present at races?
- What are you racing this year?
- What type of fitness analysis and testing does your coaching package include?
- How do you guide your athletes through nutrition, injury and preventative care?
With these tips in hand, you’ll be off to solid start at finding a coach that fits your lifestyle. Anything else you’re curious about when it comes to finding a coach?
Oh, and because we can’t have a post without a photo and I don’t have any that are applicable, here’s Lola’s “oh my goodness you’re home, please scratch my belly” face. I die every damn time.