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What to Look For in a Great Coach

woodswise

woodswise

TID Board Of Directors
Apr 29, 2012
4,126
1,062
#1
I wanted to start a thread to talk about what are the essential characteristics a person should look for when hiring a coach. I got lucky when I hired mine 7 years ago, and he turns out to be a very high quality coach who happened to settle down in the small rural town where I work.
Here are some of the qualities he has, that I think make him stand out.
1. He walks the walk, in addition to talks the talk. By that, I mean he trains himself to a high degree of fitness, and is both muscular and lean, and really stands out, even in a crowd of highly trained individuals.
2. He has achieved a certain level of greatness, being ranked by at least one national strongman organization, and one of the top three strongmen in his weightclass in the USA.
3. He has a four year degree in fitness and strength training. This education includes anatomy and physiology, sports science, body mechanics and exercise, supplementation and nutrition. I have not looked at the curriculum, but these are the areas in which he stands out and I know he studied as part of his degree.
5. He has tailored my training to meet my goals, not his. I.e. he listened, and kept my goals as the top priority in training.
6. He consistently pushes me hard, and when he can see I am having some trouble (whether in my own life, or with not feeling quite myself, or having an injury, he not only has good advice for facing the situation, he tailors my workouts to address the issue, whilst still giving me a challenging workout, even if on other bodyparts than where the trouble is).
7. he has helped me to set new goals and has offered constant encouragement over time
8. he challenges me to go beyond my mental limits regularly.
9. he has never, by his training, caused me an injury. Yes, I have been injured, due to accident and misunderstanding (doing something wrong). But I have never been injured by him pushing me beyond my mental limits (i.e. he does not push me into unsafe situations, and if I say I don't feel safe, lets me stop or ramp it down, something that rarely happens).
9. He has helped me develop a new and much more aggressive mental approach to my training and competing.
10. He constantly inspires me to do better through the example he sets for all of us around him.

Needless to say, after 7 years with my coach, I am more inspired than ever and am quite happy to pay him an amount of money each month, that amounts to a small mortgage payment!
 
BrotherIron

BrotherIron

TID Board Of Directors
Mar 6, 2011
10,294
2,555
#2
Interestingly enough one of my best coaches wasn't a world champ, didn't make the US team, struggled to place top 3 at Nationals but he will forget more than I"ll ever learn. One of my worst coaches was a multiple time world champion in more than 1 weight class and his philosophy was just add more weight. No science, no reasoning in how to work around weaknesses/ imbalances... just throw more weight on the bar.

Imho, the best coaches have achieved success but they have had to work/ struggle to obtain it. I've had the pleasure of training under some of the biggest names in PLing and Oly lifting from my generation and some you would think would be great turned out to be shit and others who you thought were shit turned out to be amazing. I will say, I always try to learn something from everyone I've worked with over the last 15 yrs.
 
IronInsanity

IronInsanity

TID Board Of Directors
May 3, 2011
2,988
660
#3
It's great you found a coach who was local. A lot of people are using an online coach, which works for some folks. I've never had a coach, but can see where the benefit would be. If it's working for you --- keep it going.
 
IronInsanity

IronInsanity

TID Board Of Directors
May 3, 2011
2,988
660
#4
Interestingly enough one of my best coaches wasn't a world champ, didn't make the US team, struggled to place top 3 at Nationals but he will forget more than I"ll ever learn. One of my worst coaches was a multiple time world champion in more than 1 weight class and his philosophy was just add more weight. No science, no reasoning in how to work around weaknesses/ imbalances... just throw more weight on the bar.

Imho, the best coaches have achieved success but they have had to work/ struggle to obtain it. I've had the pleasure of training under some of the biggest names in PLing and Oly lifting from my generation and some you would think would be great turned out to be shit and others who you thought were shit turned out to be amazing. I will say, I always try to learn something from everyone I've worked with over the last 15 yrs.
Excellent advice.
 
BovaJP

BovaJP

VIP Member
Feb 15, 2013
413
333
#5
What i look for in a great coach:
-Honesty
-Respect
-Motivation
-Realistic goals and expectations
-FEEDBACK - don't be silent, give feedback...whether good or bad.

I currently have an online coach.
For my first contest prep, i was fortunate to have a local coach-not only local to my area, but to my gym. He was excellent! I love working with him and will continue to work with him. I only went with this online coach because i had been following this person for about a year now or more, and i listen to what they have to say and their clients are making excellent progress and that speaks volumes. So i though i would give this person a try. After all my goals right now are different than contest prep. Although i will be prepping for a show, but the show will be next year. Have not decided on which show, but will more than likely be in the second half of the year.

I want a coach to give me feedback, and knowledge in why they are changing things up or why this matters or that matters, etc. My first coach, was VERY knowledgeable and would always take the time and explain to me why this, or why that. He had a very scientific approach to everything and also level headed and realistic. I did not go to him with an unrealistic goal, and i gave him plenty of time. I approached him a year in advance, and my prep was only 6mos (see my prep journal somewhere in TID forums lol).

Keep also in mind that there may be great coaches out there. There are also only just good coaches.

Finding a good coach is finding someone you can work with. Just like a hairdresser you like, or a dentist you like. They are providing a service to you/for you and you need to be able to relate to them, understand them and work with them.
 
ITAWOLF

ITAWOLF

VIP Member
Dec 9, 2010
1,029
433
#6
MY only coach ive ever had was Dave Liberman ---and that was way way back in the day

bova said everything that needs to be said for sure!!!
 
woodswise

woodswise

TID Board Of Directors
Apr 29, 2012
4,126
1,062
#7
Interestingly enough one of my best coaches wasn't a world champ, didn't make the US team, struggled to place top 3 at Nationals but he will forget more than I"ll ever learn. One of my worst coaches was a multiple time world champion in more than 1 weight class and his philosophy was just add more weight. No science, no reasoning in how to work around weaknesses/ imbalances... just throw more weight on the bar.
Imho, the best coaches have achieved success but they have had to work/ struggle to obtain it. I've had the pleasure of training under some of the biggest names in PLing and Oly lifting from my generation and some you would think would be great turned out to be shit and others who you thought were shit turned out to be amazing. I will say, I always try to learn something from everyone I've worked with over the last 15 yrs.
So BI do you have any advice for finding a great coach? I hear so many stories of trainers who get their $500 degree online and don't know the difference between one end of a barbell and another nor the first thing about diet or supplements. But newbies and inexperienced folk hire them and don't know any better and spend a lot of time getting bad advice.
I get that a lot of top competitors are not good coaches, and agree that alone is not a good indicator. My coach is not only highly ranked, he does all his own training, and like your best coaches, he has faced a lot of challenges to get to his top ranking. A winning combination, that makes him a great coach in addition to a top competitor.

I got lucky with this coach. If he ever moved or gave up coaching, I think I would have a hard time replacing him.

If I had to find another coach, I think I would ask top people who they would hire. I.e. who has the most knowledge and helps his/her clients to the greatest level of success.
 
BrotherIron

BrotherIron

TID Board Of Directors
Mar 6, 2011
10,294
2,555
#8
So BI do you have any advice for finding a great coach? I hear so many stories of trainers who get their $500 degree online and don't know the difference between one end of a barbell and another nor the first thing about diet or supplements. But newbies and inexperienced folk hire them and don't know any better and spend a lot of time getting bad advice.
I get that a lot of top competitors are not good coaches, and agree that alone is not a good indicator. My coach is not only highly ranked, he does all his own training, and like your best coaches, he has faced a lot of challenges to get to his top ranking. A winning combination, that makes him a great coach in addition to a top competitor.

I got lucky with this coach. If he ever moved or gave up coaching, I think I would have a hard time replacing him.

If I had to find another coach, I think I would ask top people who they would hire. I.e. who has the most knowledge and helps his/her clients to the greatest level of success.
To be honest, I've been VERY lucky in all my coaches. I've only actively sought out 2. All the others, I kinda stumbled upon and I learned from all of them.

I never looked for coaches with certs or degrees. I wanted coaches who took athletes and turned them into champions and not just one but those who had a team b/c you knew they have to be able to work with a multitude of athletes, abilities, and obstacles. It was also important that they practiced what they preached so they needed to compete and have respectable numbers.
 
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