What to look for in a Coach (2)
Choosing the right coach for you - Things to look out for.
When looking for a coach, its ultimately down to personal preference.
What do you want? And What do you need?
But to make an informed decision, that’s right for you. There are some things you might want to consider.
Qualifications / education
What credentials does the coach have?
A coach doesn’t necessarily need a formal Sports related degree or education to know what they’re on about, but it does demonstrate commitment to learning and their career, as do certificates and coaching licenses such as those required by BWL for competition coaching. Credentials aren’t always a deal breaker, but no credentials may be a red flag for you if you’re looking to compete.
Good athletes don’t always make good coaches, some are actually spectacularly bad at the job.
Remember, it’s their coach that helped them move like that, and it’s their athletes which are true representation of their coaching philosophy and quality.
If your aspirations lie in competitive weightlifting, your coaches personal weightlifting experience may be something to consider. After all, in order to have a genuine understanding of what training and competing is like and how weightlifting fits into daily life, you have to have done at least something. Those things can’t be learnt in a book or at a seminar. They’re emotions. What was your coaches personal weightlifting career like?
What do other people think about this coach? Are they the subject of memes? Or held in high regard. Does the coach come highly recommended by other coaches and athletes who have achieved success in the sport? Or is it just their Instagram Stories recommending themselves?
A good recruiter won’t make you a good lifter.
How many successful athletes has this coach produced? Do they have a consistent track record of coaching people to national championship level? How well have their beginner lifters progressed?
Has this coach actually produced these results? Or have they just been lucky with one or two good athletes and the remainder have moved to the team to join the bandwagon? (and haven’t progressed since).
Where is this coach based? The best coach in the world, with a small pool of athletes, isn’t going to produce many great lifters. Whilst other coaches, by virtue of location will have a huge pool of talented athletes. Take this into consideration before giving too much credit.
Athlete retention and injuries
This applies more so to the higher level athletes, but listen in anyways - A coaches track record of producing good performances is only half the story, if all their athletes progress exponentially and then stall for years on end with no progress and/or continual injury - you have to ask yourself why. Burnout, mental and physical is easy to achieve, consistent progress and athlete longevity.. less so.
Responsiveness and feedback
How responsive is the coach? Do they send their programs out on time? Do your questions get answered in a timely manner? These are all things to consider, and you often get what you pay for. It’s sometimes better to pay more and actually get the service you want, with all the after-sale care and support services, than something you regret signing up to a month down the line. After all, you hired a coach, not a programmer. If you want a generic program with no additional support. There’s plenty floating round the internet for free, even on our website.
This is a big one. You’ll be working with this person closely and trusting them to have your best interest at heart. If you don’t like the person. It doesn’t matter how good a coach they are. Move on.
Does this person coach full time? Or will they be answering your questions around a full-time job and other commitments? Will they be at the gym with you every day or will you only see them once or twice a month? As a beginner you’ll need the consistency of a coach with you during every session, but as an established lifter, sometimes a monthly check-in to keep your technique in check is all you need.
Location and Facilities
Where will you be training? Is this coach fully remote or are they based out of a gym? What’s the gym itself like? Do you prefer air conditioning, heating, saunas, brand new Eleiko equipment and the ‘Globo’ gym style with mediocre coaching? Or does a cold warehouse with rusty equipment but world class coaching sound more like your thing?
There’s obviously more to this, some class facilities also come with fantastic coaches. And not every rusty warehouse has a community of hardened weightlifters and a competent coach. Some of these places are exactly what they seem, sh**holes charging £50+ pcm simply because that’s the going rate for CrossFit.
Is the gym local, or does it involve an hour drive? Is this a deal breaker? Do you have anything better to do? Can you be coached remotely for the most part and only go to the coach’s gym once or twice a month, or do you need eyes on every session?
Who will you be training with?
Weightlifting gyms and coaches don’t come in isolation. They have teams and other athlete baggage coming with them. And this could be a deal breaker.
A mediocre coach with a team of fantastic athletes and a great atmosphere will likely produce better results for you than lifting in silence with the best technical coach in the world. The coaching might not be great, but the opportunity to train with great athletes is. You will always learn something from someone who’s already achieved what you want to.
Similarly, the coaching might be brilliant, but if you resent going to the gym because you’ll have to see someone you don’t like…probably not the best place for you. Find somewhere you enjoy training.
Pricing and Services
This is a tricky one and it definitely comes down to personal circumstance, but you do often get what you pay for. What is the coach offering you? Is it an actual coaching service, or are you just paying for programming? What other ‘bolt-on’ services do they have?
Meet the coach, don’t make a decision based on a sales pitch alone. Go to their gym (if they have one), see them coach and speak to some other people the coach works with to get their opinion.
Broadly, in Weightlifting, expect to pay the following;
- Gym membership – anywhere from £20 to £70pcm. If you’re in the upper tier and above, what extra services are you getting? Are you getting coaching included in the price? Or are you just using ‘open-gym’ time?
If you're limited to the un-coached open gym hours, it might be worthwhile looking elsewhere in your area to see if you can get a better deal - and invest the difference in a coach. Most Globo-gyms will have some weightlifting kit.
- Programming – if it’s a simple weightlifting program you’re after with limited input outside of this, expect to pay a one-off fee (program duration dependent), or an equivalent of about £35 to £55pcm.
- Coaching – In person coaching, PT style, really depends on location and who you go to. Ballpark figure of £45 an hour is probably about correct for most Weightlifting gyms. You’re paying for the technical coaching and input during the hour and are unlikely to get much programming included with this service. Use these sessions to sharpen up your technique every now and then with 100% of the coach’s attention directed at you.
- Coaching – Online, with programming. The rates for this vary hugely but expect to pay somewhere between £80 and £180pcm. The reason for the cost is simply the time required to provide a good service and the additional resources / backing these coaches need to effectively communicate with you.
If you’re in constant contact with your coach, sending videos to review, getting quick turn-around feedback and having your program adjusted accordingly… it all takes time, and for a coach to provide this level of service, they’re likely doing it full time. And to do it full time, they also need to make a living. If you're working with a good coach, you'll likely find the contact time included within your monthly fee works out much cheaper than the in-person 1-2-1 equivalent.
But in the grand scheme of things, the cost doesn’t really matter. What is important is how that coach makes you feel. After all, getting good at weightlifting takes time, and if your coach fails to keep you engaged. Well, it doesn’t matter how good their programming is.
The service provided doesn’t always have the be the best of the best - It can even be rather shite by comparison to some- so long as you’re happy with it, you’re making improvements and learning. Well, that’s all you can as for really.