Coaching is super easy.
No seriously, it’s simple really. Write a plan for your clients, follow it and watch them crush PR’s! I actually think pretty much anyone can become a successful personal trainer or strength coach.
Dealing with people is easy. Everyone has continual motivation, discipline for days and the drive to achieve their fitness related goals.
No, they don’t.
People are crazy, irrational, impatient and sometimes just lazy! Yes, all of us. And this, my friends, is exactly why we all need a coach.
Okay, sarcasm aside…let’s talk coaching 101.
What are the qualities of a good coach for real?
It starts with caring. Pardon my French, but you’ve got to give a shit. If you don’t start with generally caring about your clients, you’re gonna crash and burn pretty darn quick.
Caring is the starting point. If your client understands how much you care about them, it sets the tone for a healthy productive relationship.
So what comes next?
You need a game plan. I’m not talking about creating the best excel spreadsheet, the perfect hypertrophy plan, or having a plan to scream at your clients to hit their macros. Putting duct tape over their mouth doesn’t work either. Coaches must provides direction.
Keep in mind, the plan is never going to be perfect. Life happens and there will be constant variables you and your clients are battling. You’ll need to maintain an ongoing discussion with your clients about the plan, goals and life in general.
Progress is not always linear. Search for ways to help your clients stay consistent and hold them accountable. Use smart training and ask for help when you need it. Like most things, you don’t need to know it all in order to succeed as a good coach.
Do these ‘simple’ things and good things will happen for your clients.
Determine a Goal
A Daily Game Plan
When a training session begins, take 2 to 3 minutes and explain to your client the game plan for the session. Essentially, you give them a brief overview of what you’d like to accomplish during the training session. Be crystal clear, ask them if they have questions or concerns and get to work.
This way, there are no surprises during your time together and the client understands the goal of the training session.
The Bigger Picture
Daily training sessions are just a small piece of the puzzle. All of these sessions should work towards a common goal that’s set between you and your client.
If your goal is to help your client build muscle, but you find out he or she doesn’t want that, it’s not going to be a very productive relationship, is it? Simply put, your programming should reflect the goals agreed-upon between the coach and client.
- If your client wants to build muscle, they should probably should be lifting weights three days a week.
- If your client wants to run a marathon, you might want them log some miles.
- If your client’s goal is to compete in a powerlifting competition, you should probably spend some time on the squat, deadlift and bench press.
I realize this seems like common sense, but this often gets missed due to poor communication, lack of experience or no game plan.
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
– Winston Churchill
Track Progress Towards the Goal
When it doubt, write it down.
You’ve got to keep track of everything possible in order to truly understand your client’s progress. Where did you start? Where are you going? How are you going to get there?
Here are some simple ways to track progress:
- Before and after photos
- A pair of jeans to can try on every month – how do they fit?
- Weight lost
- Body composition
- Amount of weight lifted
- Conditioning metrics, for example, how long did it take your client to bike 3 miles at the beginning of the month and how long did it take them after four weeks?
- Perceived rate of exertion
- Movement quality, for example, what was the client’s FMS when they started? What is it now?
I think you get my point. Write everything down and track progress.
You’re Never Done.
Coaching is not simply telling or yelling. It’s not sitting back and watching your clients do the exercises in the training program. Rather, coaching is constantly providing direction, offering feedback on technique, managing expectations, and, yes, motivating your clients.
Let’s say you’re looking to hire a coach and have to choose between these two individuals.
- Coach #1 – “All right, guys, :15 seconds of super hard rope slams starting in 3,2,1.”
- Coach #2 – “OK team, we are going to perform :15 of rope slams. Keep a neutral spine like a deadlift, try to keep the waves smooth and consistent. Your goal is to try to hit between 25 and 30 slams and make sure your hips are doing the majority of the work and your arms are guiding the rope.”
What coach would you hire?
This is a biggie that often gets overlooked by coaches. We are surrounded by technology that allows us to connect with clients in an instant. A simple follow up text message, email or phone call is a fantastic way to connect with your client. Seriously, this takes less than 2 minutes.
Just in case you missed the the first thing I said about how to be a good coach. You must care. If you cannot take a small amount of time to check in on someone, do you really care in the first place?