31 Oct What makes a good coach?
We have now been on the road for three weeks, trainer Sander and me. On the way to RX level and the Throwdown. The fact that I now have a personal trainer produces two kinds of reactions. On the one hand, the people who sigh how nice it must be to have someone who makes you do things that are not or feel really nice, but are good for you. They mainly see the trainer as a talking stick. Others, mostly fellow CFs, wonder out loud why I have a trainer at all. After all, am I not trained as a fitness instructor myself? And do I really need someone to motivate me even more?
No, I don’t need someone standing next to me screaming that giving up isn’t an option. I really know that myself. But in the past 3 weeks I have taken some solid training steps forward. So apparently there was more in me than I got out myself.
So yelling and sticks are not necessary for a motivated athlete. But what makes someone a good coach? I come to 10 qualities that I appreciate in trainers.
10 Characteristics of a good coach
A good trainer is:
- Someone who is knowledgeable. Although he really does not need to know everything. We will get there together and a little sparring about approach and schedule is nice.
- Someone you trust completely. Not necessarily with your deepest secrets, but with his approach, the exercises he lets you perform and the tips he gives. Although a discussion is allowed from time to time, ‘coach knows best’
- Someone who challenges you to address your weaknesses, with exercises that you have not yet thought of yourself.
- Someone who lives according to what he propagates. ‘Practice what you preach’.
- Someone who always pays attention to technique and execution and lets you stop when they are no longer 100%. Even when the set is not finished yet.
- Someone who slows you down when necessary and pays just as much attention to the rest as the training days. Or send a blog about super compensation in that light😉
- Someone who will catch you if you fall and make you start over, over and over. ‘Practice, practice, practice’
- Someone who makes sure that you enjoy coming to the training and keeps coming. Even if he always gives you the exercises that you have not yet mastered. Extremely frustrating. But exactly the reason why you have a trainer.
- Someone who is sparing with compliments. Because when one comes up, you know you’ve done a really good job.
- Someone who has faith in you, more than you have in yourself, and who makes you do things that you never thought possible
Coaching in the Himalayas
And that brings me to Chhongba Sherpa from the Himalayas. The best coach I’ve ever come across. He never shouted. In fact, his motivation was not in words. He barely spoke English. Chhongba was our mountain guide on the way to Mera Peak last fall. Our journey to the peak took three weeks. In the run-up to base camp he observed and analyzed us. Based on that, he determined our route and speed in the last push to the top. He led us in pitch dark, with -25 and in a whipping storm along crevasses. He was patient when we could not continue due to shortness of breath, but also kept urging us to continue because hypothermia was constantly lurking. The journey was arduous and other expeditions had been reversed without success. I asked him, fingers and toes are now numb and completely out of breath, as if it really wasn’t wiser to go back. His answer was short: ‘No need’. So we continued.
Chhongba always kept a proper distance, but was very suddenly right next to me, just below the top of the ice wall, when the muscle strength in my arms gave up completely. With his push I dived up the plateau of the top. We made it! On the way back I asked him why he had persevered, how he knew we would make it within the tight time frame. After all, it was also his life that he risked. His answer was simple: ‘You two strong, I see, before’.
In fact, every sporting ambition is a bit like climbing mountains. At the foot of the mountain, the ascent seems an impossible endeavor; too high, too complicated, too long a way to go. No idea where to start. A good coach will show you the way to the first step, and then to the second, third, and every step that follows. He lets you walk yourself as much as possible, but puts you back on the route if you have strayed. He will show you alternative routes if the paved road cannot be taken. After countless steps you will eventually reach the top, often even earlier than expected. Your coach knew all along that you would make it. Now you know that too.