Updated: Sep 10, 2022
How Do I Develop A Strong Coach/Athlete Relationship?
Building a strong relationship with your coach can be critical to achieving your training and racing goals. You've found your coach...
If you haven't, check out our advice on how to find the right online coach for you! - Benefits of an Online Coach - and how to make it work for you
...you've spent the time and resources on hiring a coach to help you on your path to becoming a performance-driven athlete... which is just the first step toward success. The next step is implementing a solid training program and the executing the physical work set by your coach which you hope will lead to performance gains. It's important to remember that the highest executing athletes have managed to forge a level of trust and mutual respect with their coaches that has led to increased levels of performance both in training and in competition.
The relationship is formed when both athlete and coach are completely comfortable being themselves... encouraged to take risks, and the fear of failure or judgement is absent. This is formed from not just the athlete, but the coach too, and sometimes it can be down to the coach to encourage this environment between the two of you.
There are however, things that you as an athlete can do to help establish this positive, performance-enhancing relationship with your coach.
Stay on track - Stick to the plan
Now, you've done your research and invested in your coach (again, see here to find the right coach for you). To begin with, there is an essence of 'blind trust'... but this is because you haven't had the opportunity to get to know each other yet, which will take a bit of time to work out how each other work... just like the start of any partnership. At the beginning it's important that you make sure you stick to the training plan written as closely as possible. Trust that the coach you've invested in has your best interests at heart, knows what they are doing, and don't be derailed by doing workouts with your colleagues or friends, or something you've seen online that looks enticing. If this happens, just communicate with your coach and they will either work it into the plan, or speak about why it might not be a good idea!
If you don't communicate, then the learning phase about one another is hampered... and they can't build the picture of how you react to certain training stressors and workouts.
Be a Vulnerable and Engaged Athlete
This is tough. But try and be vulnerable, as this allows the coach to understand you as a person, what makes you tick, and build your plan to suit you, your life, and your habits. Be open to constructive feedback as this will allow your coach to realise you trust them!
Be engaged with your coach and listen to the feedback, ask questions and try and understand why you're doing what you're doing, as this will help to reinforce the training you're doing, as you will trust that your coach knows what they are talking about, and therefore trust the process.
Communication with your Coach
Communication is key in any aspect of life. But in your athletic journey, whether it be online or in person, being able to communicate with your coach is probably the most important step in building the relationship.
Be open and honest, telling your coach how the workout went in terms of date, but also and more importantly, how you felt. It will help them paint a clearer picture of you as an athlete and how you're reacting to the training.
A coach can't always understand / know how your day at work has gone, or if you've been out the night before... unless you tell them. So being open and honest about these can help adapt the program. Sometimes it's important to back off on one day so that you can complete the rest of the week.
In reverse, if you're feeling great, sometimes there is room for pushing on!
If you don't communicate well, then the coach may think that you're nailing the workouts from the data and session completion... but this is effecting your work/ home life, then it's not a sustainable program. So be honest and say if you're tired, or don't think you can do what's set. Sometimes they may tell you to push on... but at the end of the day, they want you to be your best self, whether it be in training or out.
This will build that trust between you and your coach, and will be the fundamental building blocks that help lead you to a solid program that will get you to where you want to be.
Many coaching companies have a range of coaches suitable to different people and their goals. Be sure to do your research and see if one stands out to you. Trust who you've gone with and the rest will take care of itself.