The 5 Biggest Mistakes Competitors Make When Hiring A Coach
and how to make sure they don’t happen to you!
It might be your first show, it might be your 10th. Either way, you’ve decided you need some guidance… you need a coach. So how do you choose a good coach? How do you make the best team affiliation decision? Without getting into the politics of NPC right now when it comes to teams, here are the 5 biggest mistakes competitors make when hiring a coach, and how to make sure they don’t happen to you!
(P.S. IF YOU HAVE A SHORT ATTENTION SPAN OR JUST DON’T LIKE WORDY FEMALES, SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS ARTICLE FOR 10 SIMPLE QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN CHOOSING A COACH!)
- THEY CHOOSE A COACH BY TEAM SIZE AND INDUSTRY RECOGNITION
I made this mistake myself. Just because a team or coach comes up in your newsfeed 24×7 – just because they have brand affiliations or a lot of team members – doesn’t mean they’re the best choice for you.
Team size doesn’t indicate a track record of success. A gifted marketer and business strategist can grow a team, but that doesn’t mean they can grow a good team.
Big teams have a major downside, just like small ones: they often lose the ability to work closely and carefully with competitors throughout their journey, both on and off-season. Communication is limited by the sheer enormity of questions they field on a daily basis. As a result, the care of each individual team member is often compromised, and so are their results… coaches start dishing out cookie-cutter plans because they don’t have the time to customize plans… which is what you’re paying for!
Instead of looking for team size and industry recognition, ask these questions:
- Are the competitors happy with the coaching? (talk to some of the team members and find out if they’re happy… go with the ones who haven’t placed to get a better idea of what the experience really looks like)
- How do the competitors on the team look?
- How many have turned pro?
- What is the average time it takes for their girls/guys to go pro?
- What is the average response time for the coach to get back to team members on questions? Do they hear back at all?
Don’t make the mistake I did! Choose a coach that can work intimately with you, monitor your progress, and target your weaknesses so you bring the best package to the stage.
- THEY CHOOSE A COACH BECAUSE THEY LOOK GOOD
While I have a definite disregard for the credibility of coaches who don’t take care of themselves, it is equally foolish to choose a coach simply because they’re attractive or a published fitness model.
What you need is more than outward. You need a coach who has:
- Several years of industry experience
- A history of integrity and credibility
- Nationally recognized certifications (never, ever go with a coach who is not certified in any way through sports medicine, NASM, NCCPT, ACE, AFA… anyone you hire should have technical, certified experience of some kind!)
- A nutrition certification or experience (do they make it up on the fly, or give you the exact same diet as every other competitor??)
These are key attributes of a successful and knowledgeable coach who will help you sculpt your body effectively.
- THEY CHOOSE A COACH BY COST
Coaches aren’t like brand name clothing. I’ve seen cheap coaches and expensive coaches that vary WIDELY in experience and skill. Don’t use the cost of training as an indicator for how good they might be… these aren’t Gucci bags we’re talking about here! Coaches set costs themselves, which means that the standard varies.
That being said, don’t pay exorbitant amounts of money without doing your research. Try the following questions on for size:
- What is the average cost for a qualified coach with experience? (do some comparisons online or ask someone you know who competes)
- What incentives does the coach offer that could justify what they’re charging?
- Can they follow through on those incentives? Have they with their current team members?
If the amount seems over the top, ask questions of the coach directly to determine why they feel they can charge more than anyone else.
- THEY CHOOSE A COACH BECAUSE THEY OFFER SHINY INCENTIVES
Speaking of incentives… never use them as a reason to sign with a coach! Here’s a great example:
The team I used to be affiliated with works closely with a large supplement company. This supplement company signed the team as a whole for sponsorships and ambassadorship. Girls get a small percentage of sales as a result for pushing the product.
After signing, the coach pushed the products on the team members, knowing they get a large cut from the supplement company when girls buy and sell the products.
Within weeks, girls who had purchased the products and used them complained of lancing stomach pain, headaches, nausea, digestive problems… but the coach kept right on pushing them and completely ignored the fact that the products seemed to be hurting their team members and most likely the people their team members were selling to.
Just because a team offers you a supplement affiliation or a magazine spread or the chance at a sponsorship doesn’t mean it’s a good sponsorship, a good affiliation, or that it will in any way help you on your journey to kick ass on stage. Never use shiny incentives as a reason to work with a coach. You need more than that to succeed.
- THEY CHOOSE A COACH BECAUSE THE COACH WENT PRO
Possibly my biggest pet peeve with how people choose a coach! Just because someone went pro, or even worse because they placed in their NPC competition – (maybe fourth or fifth but hey, they placed right? Aren’t they qualified now to train everyone else?) – doesn’t mean they’re the right choice for you!
DON’T choose a coach because they were a one-hit wonder. Just because they did well doesn’t mean they know ANYTHING about helping other people do well!
All that means is they either had a good coach, good genetics, or lucked out. They might know how to work hard, but that means nothing when it comes to their ability to craft your workouts and nutrition.
Choosing a coach simply because they placed in a competition is like hiring a mechanic because he drives a nice car…. Just because he has a fancy ride, doesn’t mean he won’t f*ck up yours.
So now you know what NOT to do. Where do we go from here? How do you choose a coach? How do you avoid the 5 biggest mistakes competitors make when choosing a coach?
I’ve put together a handy little questionnaire to use when you’re deciding on a team affiliation or a coach/trainer to direct you on your journey. Here are 10 questions to ask when choosing a coach!
10 Questions To Ask When Choosing a Coach
- Are their competitors happy? Talk to current and old team members to find out if the competitors are getting what they paid for. Also, on a minor note… how are their team members? Positive, hard-working, uplifting? Or catty, bitchy, and backstabbing? Attitude is reflective of leadership!
- How do their competitors look? Take a careful look at proportion and show-day bodies, but ALSO TAKE A LOOK AT OFF-SEASON! A good coach is just as present in your off-season as they are in your 12-16 weeks out from show.
- How many of their team have turned pro? A good coach has a track record of success in turning competitors pro, or at least some top 3 placings under their belt. If what they’re doing with their current team isn’t working, it sure as hell won’t work for you.
- What is the average “handling time” on questions? This should come up when discussing the team with current team members. Does the team hear back from the coach? How long does it take? You don’t want a coach who will leave you hanging on vital questions and concerns.
- What affiliations and incentives do they offer? Find out if they follow through on offered incentives, and do your research on any supplement or brand affiliations to make sure the products are good and something you’re willing to tie your own name to!
- How often do they update or change your plans? With my last team, my plans never changed. Guess what happens when you never change your workouts? You plateau! Your body gets used to the workouts and you max out effectiveness by hitting a wall. A good coach changes plans every 4-6 weeks to promote muscle confusion. If your coach doesn’t change your plans… you need a new coach.
- Do they offer refeeds? We will get into this more in later posts, but NO COACH SHOULD RESTRICT YOU TO DEPRIVATION FOR THE ENTIRE 12-16 WEEKS OF PREP. Ask the coach if they carb cycle their competitors and if they do a reefed day. Even the pros and Olympians do refeeds! If they don’t, you can bet they don’t know enough about nutrition to be responsible for yours.
- How much cardio do their clients do? This, like the following question you’ll see, is a bit of a trick question. No client should have to do more than an hour of cardio a day during prep. Even an hour is pretty excessive if you’re far out from a show. If their competitors are doing more than that weeks and weeks from show, they’re not cutting them down correctly, and the competitor is going to rebound severely post-show.
- What should you weigh in at for your show? This is a trick question. NO COACH SHOULD HAVE A SPECIFIC WEIGHT GOAL FOR YOU. The goal will be bodyfat-driven. Even the most psychic of coaches can’t tell you what you’ll come in at show-day. They should be more focused on muscle density and body-fat loss. A coach that gives you a specific weight goal from the start is probably going to compromise your metabolism.
- Do they have:
- Several years of industry experience
- A history of integrity and credibility
- A nationally-recognized certification
- Nutrition experience/certification
My hope is that this post and these questions will help you avoid the 5 biggest mistakes competitors make when choosing a coach, and that your choice will propel you forward into success and long-term health!
For more questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.