An athlete coach relationship will only be able to flourish with communication from both sides. Like a DJ playing bad tunes at a party, they will only start playing what you want if you tell them what you like and dislike.
As a coach, I have over the years developed strong relationships with my athletes; others like to keep their distance and their head down only communicating if they feel it necessary. This is a balancing act which cannot be taken for granted as everyone is different and will react differently in a given situation. We as coaches try to build a personal relationship with our athletes and succeed more readily if both sides are open to the process! How much time this takes depends on both personalities, but you want to make sure you find the right fit, understanding like with many relationships, time will build and enhance that connection. As a coach I ask what sort of help and assistance my athletes think they need, (this will change over time and as your fitness increases).
Focus though on what your coach can offer you as an athlete…
Athletes read what they can, and perhaps by blending a little bit of advice from their local swim, bike and run coaches or other athletes, push onwards. This approach is perfectly OK for most of us but does lack the personal touch. Today, the Internet connects people like never before and opens up a whole new world of opportunities. Many age-group athletes, from beginner to advanced, realise that professional coaching is not just for professional athletes. A good training program will take into account your work schedule and life – remember we all have one of those!!
Once you have a coach and established you’re going to get on and work together, the time for communication begins. There is nothing worse from a coaching point of view than having no response from your athletes! You can never give your coach too much information, as plotting historical peaks and troughs in an athlete’s performance and training is very beneficial to the learning process for both parties and can highlight the beginning of injury or illness, or most importantly how well prepared the athlete is for their big A race of the year!!
What do I as a coach need to know?
As much as possible!!
Have you got niggles which could turn into a long term injuries? If your coach knows, they can work around this to allow recovery and consistent training…
Have you been ill? (If the coach doesn’t know he won’t stop me training!) Illness needs to be nurtured. Training while ill can have longer term effects, a few days off is better than a missed race or even a season!
Work commitments haven’t allowed much training? Missed sessions are OK! Any of these can be rescheduled to fit in with life, work and family but only with the right communication.
You’ve been busy so you’re catching up with your sessions in a few days? Your coach will know which key sessions you need to include and more importantly the ones to drop or reschedule. Doing too much too quickly opens us up to injury or illness!
It’s Holiday season!!! Do you want sessions while away? Will the family agree to that!? Sometimes it’s best to grab the opportunity to relax with both hands as life doesn’t always allow us quality recovery. (I always take my running kit as you never know!)
Changed or added to your race calendar? Your coach can’t plan your season without knowing these important changes. As soon as they are planned let your coach know so they can plan accordingly.
This isn’t an exhaustive list! So many things can affect your training program so it’s only right that you should tell your coach. Also within this process you as an athlete should be vocal in what you want your coach to do with the information supplied. Responses aren’t always needed, (unless you have made it known to your coach that one is necessary), and changes could be being carried out behind the scenes or charts and information being collated about performance and progress about you for future use.
On that note, it’s important that both coach and athlete build trust in each other, helped obviously by communicating, and in the program being set. Any training program will be more suited to the athlete with interaction and feedback. If you have a new way of training with a new coach you could see a drop in performance before you see the benefits of the new regime. This isn’t an uncommon occurrence as it takes time to settle into a new approach. Planning your training can be difficult for you or your coach, but trust in your program and it will give you help and direction. You have sole responsibility for choosing your response to each & every situation in your life – past, present & future. Refine your thinking & know in your heart that you are far bigger & better than anything that can, or did, happen to you.
Communication doesn’t stop with your coach… You may need to help your family and loved ones realise that there is a light at the end of the tunnel! When all this training is over there will be time for them and a more relaxed athlete too! We can get involved with our training so much that we can forget the others which help and assist us in reaching our goals, (but that’s a whole story in itself!)
By being open and honest with yourself, your coach and your family or support crew, you can get find some great personal performances. The key to unlocking this is….
Yes, you guessed it – communicating.