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How to Choose a coach

So you are thinking of starting your open water journey, or wanting to train for a specific event. Someone suggests getting a coach to guide you through the process.

What do you think about when making your choice, do you chat to them over the phone or via zoom before booking or do you go by personal recommendation?

Here are my thoughts on things to consider:

1.Qualifications - Is this person suitably qualified and insured to carry out this activity. You can ask for proof of this they may have it made be shared on a website. Do your research. Coaching outdoors is a very different environment, what safety considerations to they have in place. Is there a risk assessment in place can I view it?

2.Experience - Do they have experience at providing this service. You will gain an idea of this by talking to them, ask for examples, look at reviews, search on media platforms.

How do they coach, what type of a coach are they? What is their ethos? Do they possess a range of skills and knowledge to really develop me further, not just technical but tactical and psychological? Do you think this coach will be a good fit for you?

3.Comparison - Talk to two or three before making your final decision. Make an informed choice way up pro’s and cons of each.

4.Listen to that inner voice if you start to talk yourself out of a session did you make the right call? Most coaches will be happy to discuss further (if that is what is needed) or refund you rather than waste time and risk you just not turning up or canceling at last minute.

How do I deal with a query:

Firstly I start by asking why they have contacted me - how can I help? Listening to them is really important, I may make notes, event, fitness level, prior experience, health, time scale.

I also want to know the reason why, what is their motivation? This can be hugely varied, mental health benefits, getting started, training for an event, wanting to share the experience with others.

Some session require a more detailed plan and multiply conversation?

I might ask if they have a preferred learning style, more often than not though I ensure that my coaching includes a multi style approach.

Equally if I feel that I am not the person to help them, I pass on details of other coaches that may be better placed to help.

Coaches are human and come in all shapes and sizes. As a teacher I am quite loud, some of this is due to the environment e.g. pool side can be quite noisy, trying to be heard over others. As a coach I rarely raise my voice, ensure that I have clearly communicated to the client what task or technique I want them to work on. Quite often I will be in the water next too them to aid this process, depending on the needs of the person. A coach can be likened to a mechanic they have lots of tools in their toolbox, and only bring it out when appropriate and necessary.

So you have employed the services of your coach. Now ask yourself, the following questions. Am I being provided constructive feedback and is that feedback consistent or contradictory? Can I see progress in my ability and performance, or is it more of an holistic feeling, improving in confidence and well being. Does my coach work on different aspects with me these might include fitness or speed, endurance, psychological and technique.

Coaches approach and style, this is a huge topic, here are the main ones in brief.

Authoritarian Coaching - Coach led, they decide what to do and how to do it.

Holistic Coaching- this applies to the whole person, trust relationship required between client and coach, looks at long term development, enhanced growth, self-actualization.

Democratic Coaching - relates more to teams gives them the freedom and accountability with the coach only giving input to keep the process going.

Transactional Coaching -Is reliant on an exchange-focused relationship. This style is aimed at being task driven and time sensitive, promoting performance.

Transformational Coaching - 1:1 basis relates to improving the individual

Whilst undertaking my canoe coach qualification during this process as a learner I often I remember the stages in the learning process that I went through, starting off initially just wanting to be told do this, to gain this outcome. This has short term benefits but no long term gain, you then become fixed in how you learn and become very coach dependent. The more I allowed the coach to set me challenges that expanded my growth the greater my skill and knowledge improved.

I hope this short blog has given you food for thought. Hope to see you soon.



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