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Why Get a Coach

Why Get a Coach

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Why Get a Coach

I am constantly approached for coaching advice from people of all abilities and ages.  Some of them know nothing about cycling, whereas some of them believe they already know everything.  All of them want to know what benefits there would be in getting a coach and how it’s going to help their performance.  While one coach won’t necessarily suit every athlete, I believe that every athlete can benefit from finding a coach that suits their needs and personality.

 

BENEFITS include:

 

  • Answerability – as an athlete this is a big one.  Self-coached athletes need a huge amount of inner drive to succeed or achieve their goals.  If they miss the odd session, who’s going to know?  Many of my athletes admit that they would have rather stayed in bed when the weather wasn’t that flash, but knew that they would feel guilty not doing the training I had set and would feel like they were letting me down.  This therefore is a very big motivator for some.
  • Objectivity – a good coach is able to see things that the athlete may not notice themselves.  With a good feedback system between athlete and coach the coach is able to recognise patterns in an athletes response to various training stimulus and therefore better able to adapt training accordingly.  An athlete may continue to make the same mistakes out of habit until the objective coach points out where they are going wrong.
  • Experience – the more athletes that a coach comes into contact with, the more they learn about what works for athletes with similar attributes which they can pass on to future athletes.  A good coach is constantly adapting their methods based on their experiences with athletes as well as continued education.
  • Physiological knowledge – Any coach worth knowing will have a sound grasp of sports science and how to adapt training according to individual athletes strengths, weaknesses, history, age, ability and mentality.  The wide use of sports science and technology available to most athletes now means that a lot of the guess work about training intensity can be taken away these days.
  • Motivation – Good coaches will figure out the right buttons to push in each individual athlete and find ways to inspire them to train consistently.  Some need pushing, others need pampering.  Not every athlete responds well to the same approach.  While some may need some tough love, others who are more analytical just want to know the facts.

 

I’m often approached by athletes who have the same synopsis.  “I’ve been training ‘hard’ for some time now and although I made good gains at first, I now seem to have plateaued”.  There isn’t one answer for them, but there are some common factors that come up time and time again.

  1. Repetition: Doing the same thing on the same day every week, over and over again.  The body is an amazingly adaptive machine.  Part of the process of getting fitter is to train it in a way that causes positive adaptation.  Once the body has adapted to a certain training stimulus the fitness gain has been made and after that, if you just keep giving it the same stimulus it has no reason to make any further fitness gains.

  2. No Recovery time: It is very common for people to train really hard all the time and not make any gains.  In fact this method of training often leads to over training and a drop in form.  Many can’t seem to grasp the concept that in order to get faster they don’t need to ride fast all the time.  The body actually makes most of its fitness adaptations and gains during recovery time.  A good coach will give their athletes, recovery periods periodically and offer a good balance of intensity, volume and recovery in every week.  Every athletes levels of what they can cope with are different which is where the coaches’ experience comes in.  Typically I give my athletes a low intensity week once in every 3 – 5 weeks depending on their training history and age.  They still train, just at low intensities.

  3. No Periodisation: The coach will sit down with a new athlete and plan a season with specific goals and objectives.  It isn’t realistic to be going at your best over the whole year.  Everyone will have peaks and troughs in their form.  The coach will be able to devise a strategy for the season that has the peaks occurring at the right time, when the higher priority races in the athletes goals occur.  The coach may achieve this in many ways depending on at what level the athlete is, but in all cases there is a recovery phase followed by a re-building and preparation phase followed by more specific training intended to bring the athlete to a big event in peak condition.

Even the most seasoned athletes can benefit from an objective perspective given by a coach.  New ideas could be all the stimulus they need to find new levels.  The common thing I hear is, “well, back in the day, we used to do this or that and it worked perfectly well”.  The fact is that sports science has come a long way since “back in the day”, and new ideas are being introduced every day, so get off your plateau and seek out a recommended coach in your area now.  You may not realise what you’re missing out on.