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Do Triathlon Coaching Qualifications Matter?

Are you on the hunt for a coach?

Maybe you’re feeling a little lost in your training, or perhaps you're just looking for some guidance in your triathlon performance. Either way, you may wonder whether you should look for a coach with qualifications… It’s a valid debate… but i’m not 100% sure where I stand with it.

As a fully qualified Architect, I should know and respect the value of qualifications. I also feel as though this gives me a valid leg to stand on when commenting on their worth what they can really mean.

After all... I remain a fully qualified Chartered Architect (a protected title), within the Architects Registration Board... but I haven't practiced architecture since qualifying, and I had very little experience in practice when I got it. Yes, I am a rare case, however, my point still stands... I wouldn't hire me if I was looking for an architect. Not at the moment anyway... But people would. If I were able to market myself correctly and show them the qualification that I have, which is mean to resemble prestige and trust, then people will buy into that, and hire me to design their house, office, or otherwise.

To be hired into a firm is a different story, however... and may be a scrawl for another day.

So the same can be said for hiring a coach. Do qualifications matter, and if not, how do you differentiate between a good coach and a bad one?

Let’s look at some pro’s and con’s.

Pro: You Know They Have Some Idea of What They're Doing

When it comes to finding a coach, there are a lot of people out there who claim to be experts in their field. With a coach who has qualifications, you can at least be confident that they have some idea of what they're doing. They’ve likely gone through some kind of certification or accreditation process, which means they’ve learned the basics of coaching, or at least delivering a program...

Con: Not All Qualifications Are Created Equal

The thing is, not all qualifications are created equal. Just because someone has a certificate from a coaching program doesn't necessarily mean they're the right coach for you. And just because someone doesn't have any qualifications doesn't mean they're not an excellent coach.

Pro: They've Got the Credentials to Prove It

One of the benefits of having a coach with qualifications is that they’ve got the credentials to prove it. If you’re looking to hire a coach and you see that they’ve got a bunch of letters after their name, you can be pretty sure they've gone through some kind of training process. Plus, if they're part of a professional coaching organization, that’s a good sign that they’re committed to their craft and have been selected by someone reputable.

Con: Sometimes Qualifications Don't Matter

The flip side of the credential coin is that sometimes qualifications just don't matter. A coach who has no formal qualifications but has been doing the work for years may be more effective than someone who just graduated from a coaching program. You’ve got to consider the individual’s experience and their ability to connect with you.

Pro: They're More Likely to Be Legitimate

When you're looking for a coach, you want to be sure you're not getting scammed. Unfortunately, there are people out there who are just looking to make a quick buck by pretending to be coaches. A coach with qualifications is more likely to be legitimate than someone who just popped up on your social media feed. Be sure to do your research and look whether or not they have the infrastructure behind them to back up their claims.

Con: Some Coaches with Qualifications Can Be Stuffy and Unrelatable

The downside to having a coach with qualifications is that sometimes they can be a little stuffy and unrelatable. They might be so focused on the process that they forget to connect with you as a person. It’s important to find a coach who understands where you’re coming from and can talk to you in a way that makes sense.

Pro: They Can Provide a Systematic Approach

A coach with qualifications can provide a systematic approach to your goals. They’ve likely been trained in a certain methodology or philosophy, and they can use that to help you create a plan for success. This can be really helpful if you're feeling lost or overwhelmed and need someone to help you structure your thoughts and goals.

Con: You Might Not Need a Systematic Approach

The downside to a systematic approach is that it might not work for you. You might be the type of person who needs to go with the flow and have more freedom to explore your ideas. A coach with qualifications might be too rigid for your needs.


So there you have it... the pros and cons of looking for a coach with qualifications. At the end of the day, you have to go with your gut and find someone who connects with you and can help you reach your athletic potential, whilst also taking into consideration your work and lifestyle needs.

It is for you to decide at the end of the day as to whether or not a qualification gives you the reassurance you need, or whether the results that the coach as achieved with their athletes are what you value more. Some of the best coaches in the world don’t have any qualifications, just experience (Brett Sutton)… So there’s something to be said for that.

The best thing you can do, is get on a call with a few coaches, and get a feel for their knowledge, experience and approach to training. You’ll quickly get an understanding if they are the right coach for you!


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