Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The 3 P's of Coaching & Becoming A Better Triathlon Coach

I thought I would write a blog geared towards other coaches out there.

I have coached for 11 years now and the one thing I hear from other coaches as they explore this career path is "I am SO busy! I don't know how to get everything done."

Busy = good! Right? I mean it's better than the alternative of not having enough work. Sometimes though, over worked can lead to burn out, cutting corners and perhaps even not enjoying what you do. This is just like anything in life. So what do you do?

I thought I would break down the blog into two categories. So here you go:

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THE 3 P's OF COACHING

I came up with these 3 P's that I believe that you MUST have in order to be a successful coach.

PASSION - You must be passionate about the sport that you are coaching. The work required typically is more encompassing than a normal 9 to 5 job. If you aren't passionate about it, don't expect your athletes to stay that way.

PATIENCE - I have found a lot of similarities between what I learned by going to school for education and my years coaching triathletes. It's a hard sport for most people, that's one of the reason's they get usually get into it, have patience with everyone you deal with. Questions, learning, improvement...be patient.

PERSISTENCE - You need to support yourself. To be successful in any career, you need this one...BIG TIME. I started out coaching 4 athletes for $50/month. After a few year's it might have been 8 athletes for $100. It takes a long time to get where you are going...keep your head down, have a vision/goals and keep on believing in yourself no matter what any one else thinks.

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BECOMING A BETTER COACH


Here are a few things that will help.


#1 - Set up a schedule for yourself...and STICK TO IT!

This is hard for most people who are self employed. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want. However if you don't watch out, you'll find yourself trying to do a weeks worth of work in 2 or 3 days. I recommend that you write out a schedule that integrates everything that you need to get done relating coaching (in person, writing plans, emails, invoicing, accounting, errands, continuing education, etc), your own training (if you do it) and your personal time.

1a - Over-budget for time because stuff always takes longer.

1b - Plan ahead. The night before, the week before, the month before.

1c - Don't do your own training when you coach, it will only lead to mediocrity at both.

1d - Schedule time to do NOTHING. This is my biggest weakness and it tends to be looked down upon by some, but DO IT!


So how do you decide what to schedule??? ...


#2 - Goals.

Like everything, we need something that we are hoping to accomplish. A certain number of athletes, a certain income level....goals that you can structure your business around. Decide what's important to you, decide what you need to live the way you want and use those goals to help with your planning.


#3 - Consider the cost-benefit for each.

The benefit can be financial, potential athlete recruitment, benefit to athletes or something completely different...your choice. Remember it's NOT always a benefit to yourself that you are looking for.

When I am deciding where I am going to spend my time, I always consider the above. I write down all of my potential obligations/avenues and the pro's and con's, in addition to the time required for each. Then I decide.

2a - There are some things that are non-negotiable that I always have because I feel they are that important. These things get scheduled FIRST.

2b - Next, schedule your down time. Yes that's right. If you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of others.... I think a therapist told me this a long time ago ;) In all seriousness, personal time is next.

2c - Then go down the list and integrate obligations with the most pro's. Make sure to integrate both activities with pro's for yourself and your athletes.

2d - You decide what you want to do. You will likely have to draw a line... I only want to work "x" number of hours. You could work more, but you have to decide what is best for your own situation.


What's Else??? ...


#3 - Maintain a level of professionalism.

Triathlon is a closely knit sport. Everyone typically knows most everyone else in each community and friendships develop. As a coach, there are times that it's important to be a friend, a listener, a life manager, a sport's psychologist and probably a lot of other things...but above all, remember that your job is TO BE A COACH. You are hired to help each athlete accomplish their specific triathlon goals. Make that and keep that priority as #1 at all times.


#4 - Listen & Learn

I learn something from every athlete that I coach. Some coaches are so set in their ways that they often would not be able to see "teaching moments" (a little term from education background) if they existed with a sign right in front of where they were standing. Use your knowledge and apply it to the individual and then adjust based on the response. Lastly, listen and observe...body language, voice inflection and what they are saying.


#5 - Stay in Touch

Do you know what is going on in your athlete's lives?  Make sure you do and check in regularly, even if the athletes are not filling out their training logs. Life is busy and sometimes the time is just not there to sit down post workout and download data or type in how a workout went. A simple email per week or so will suffice nicely in this department.


I could add to this list, but this is a good start and will help you manage your coaching profession a little more enjoyably and easily. It's a great career and one that I am certainly thankful to have chosen.