So we’ve touched on this a little in the previous post: what you need in a coach, and what you don’t.
A good coach is VITAL to your journey as a competitor, and that includes POST-SHOW and OFF-SEASON. But hold on that, we will get to that in future posts.
If you’re questioning your current coach or exploring new ones, or if you’re wondering about your own coaching style, take a look at these 5 Things a Good Coach Will Never Do!
5 Things a Good Coach Will Never Do
- They will NEVER IGNORE YOUR FEEDBACK OR CONCERNS
Anonymous Example One (these are all true feedback stories) writes:
“I left [my coach] shortly after my rebound from my last prep… Sent an inquiry about post-show or off-season prep (even willing to pay full price!) received a non-specific, awkward email almost ten days later and then nothing. Medical concerns went unanswered or dismissed. ‘Oh severe muscle cramping and numbness in your toes? Just drink more water.'”
I’m honestly shocked and appalled by how common these testimonials are. Let’s talk for a minute about something called rhabdomyolysis. I’m spending the most time on this point, because it effing matters.
WEBMD tells us: Rhabdomyolysis is a serious syndrome due to a direct or indirect muscle injury. It results from a breakdown of muscle fibers and release of their contents into the bloodstream. This can lead to complications such as kidney (renal) failure. This occurs when the kidneys cannot remove waste and concentrate urine. In rare cases, rhabdomyolysis can even cause death.
In fitness this essentially means… bad sh*t happens when you overtrain. The scary truth? Rhabdo results in long-term dialysis (as in kidney problems for life) or even death, and can happen to anyone. Rhabdoymyolysis is particularly prevalent in athletes new to sports with high intensity routines. These people don’t know their bodies as well and are ignorant of warning signs.
Sample of rhabdo symptoms:
- Muscle pain, especially in the shoulders, thighs or lower back
- Muscle weakness or trouble moving arms or legs
- Abdominal pain
- Nauseaor vomiting
- Fever, rapid heart rate
- Lack of feeling in hands and feet
- Confusion, dehydration, fever, dizziness or lack of consciousness.
In untrained athletes, early symptoms of rhabdo (or overtraining… see below) are often confused with muscle soreness (DOMS).
IF YOU ARE TELLING YOUR COACH that you have one or more of any of these symptoms, and they’re telling you to drink more water… get a new d*mn coach.
MUCH more common than rhbado but also very dangerous is overtraining syndrome.
What is Overtraining Syndrome?
People who are very physically active sometimes cross the line between sufficient training and too much training. Overtraining usually occurs when the body does not have enough time to recover from the stress of intense training.
Signs of overtraining include the following:
- You constantly feel tired or listless.
- You cannot make further fitnessgains or you actually move backward in your level of fitness.
- You suddenly lose weight.
- Your resting heartrate increases 5 beats per minute.
- You have lost your enthusiasm for exercising.
- You feel irritable, angry, or depressed.
Treatment for overtraining requires that you cut back on training or stop altogether for 1 to 2 weeks. In extreme cases, a month or more of rest may be needed. It can be very difficult for a person for whom training is a way of life to believe that they have overtrained and need rest. It is more effective to prevent overtraining in the first place.
In competitors, overtraining is often mistaken for carb-deprivation or the “rigors of competing”.
If you express concern to your coach about any of these symptoms, and they ignore you or tell you they’re normal without asking more questions, explaining things carefully, or referring you to a doctor…. Get a new coach.
No matter what type of feedback you’re giving, if it’s ignored, you’re not being taken care of. You’re PAYING to have customized, carefully crafted plans with a coach, AND a relationship with that coach – your training experience should be a dialogue. Not a brick wall.
Ok, finally, onto the last 6 points (I”ll be brief)!
- They will NEVER FAIL TO EXPLAIN “WHY”
A bad coach will tell you to do it… because they said so.
A good coach will tell you to do it… because [insert explanation here].
In other words, a good or even GREAT coach will explain WHY you do what you do.
Anonymous Example Two writes:
“I asked one time why my diet and workouts never changed… I was told that if it’s working, why change it? I didn’t feel this was a great answer.”
These types of answers are a write-off for a coach who either isn’t giving you the time and energy you deserve to explain, or who actually doesn’t know.
Don’t be afraid to ask “why?” If they never answer… find someone who will.
- They will NEVER FORGET ABOUT YOU
Coaches are busy: we are often belabored by tons of questions. I have been! Sometimes, we are too busy to answer right away. However…
Anonymous Example Three writes:
“I sent a question on my show day after sending several questions the week before. My coach never answered. As a result, I went in blind.”
If you have a time-sensitive question, your coach should answer, promptly.
Even if you have a general question, it still shouldn’t take a week to hear back.
If you don’t receive a response, or it takes a long time to hear back, the coach is either lazy, doesn’t care, or doesn’t delegate properly. Big teams can often cause a hold on response times that SHOULD indicate to the leader or leaders that it’s time to hire some help.
If you’re paying for coaching, you should get it.
- They will NEVER PUBLICLY OR PRIVATELY HUMILIATE YOU
Anonymous Example Four writes:
“My coach called me a ‘loser’ when I got second callouts.”
If you haven’t flinched… you should be. This is NEVER okay. Coaches are there to encourage and exhort you. Do we need to be honest with you? Yes. But never, ever, are we there to pull you down.
If your coach has spoken badly of you to others, or to your face, you need a new coach.
- They will NEVER REFUSE TO CHANGE YOUR PLANS
A good coach will incorporate feedback. Will they make things easier on you? No. They should push you. But if something hurts, or if you feel you’re not targeting a weakness which they’re aware of, or if you need an adjustment because your gym is lacking certain equipment… you name it… your coach should be available for those small adjustments.
Anonymous Example Five writes:
“I told my coach that I had a gluten and dairy intolerance. When I got my plans, they included both wheat and dairy.”
Busy coaches do sometimes have oversights. But if this happens, you’d better be asking them why. The same thing is true for plans which never change… ever. A good coach knows that changing your plans every 4-6 weeks prevents plateaus, a good coach adjusts plans to avoid injury or to focus on your weaknesses, and a good coach is available to continue that dialogue and make tweaks as you go.
I recently told my coach I couldn’t afford the steak I was supposed to eat every night – and he tweaked my plans so I could have lean ground beef instead. That’s a good coach!
If your coach never changes your plans and always refuses to incorporate your feedback, move on.
This post went longer than intended, so it got chopped back to 5 points! Essentially, in summary:
A Good Coach:
WILL NEVER IGNORE YOUR FEEDBACK OR CONCERNS
WILL NEVER FAIL TO EXPLAIN “WHY”
WILL NEVER FORGET ABOUT YOU
WILL NEVER PUBLICLY OR PRIVATELY HUMILIATE YOU
WILL NEVER REFUSE TO CHANGE YOUR PLANS
I hope these points are a helpful reminder to you of what you deserve in a coach.
For coaches out there, I’m calling you (and reminding myself) to keep these things in mind as you grow. Let’s keep the integrity in this sport by being true to the care of our clients.