Today we are leaving the realm of rowing for little excursion to look at the importance of coaches. We have found a good example from a different type of sports – cycling.
Good coaching makes you a better athlete
Anyone who’s ever taken a sport seriously will know that good coaching makes you a better athlete. But very few of us have one. When faced with another expense to add to the litany of other bike-related outlays, newcomers to cycling might be tempted to ask “Why?”, when the question they should probably be pondering is “Why not?”
Riders are willing to spend thousands chasing marginal gains; lighter frames, aero wheels, better tyres – all in search of precious seconds. Coaching, and the education and structure it provides, could make a difference of minutes.
“When I meet someone new and tell them that I am a full-time coach, the question “why have a coach” comes up a majority of the time,” says CTS’ Scott Wrigley, who’s been working with inGamba as part of our #fitbyspring mission. “From my perspective, there are five great reasons: Accountability, consistency, objectivity, knowledge and life Balance.”
Scott has been a keen athlete all his life, and after graduating from university he fell in love with endurance training and racing. When not coaching others, he dedicates his time to racing triathlon, swimming and running events. As well as being an expert in technique and anaylsis, he’s experienced with laboratory testing for things like VO2 max, and bike fit. And on top of working with countless cyclists and triathletes, he’s coached everyone from bodybuilders to skiers. Basically, he’s the kind of guy you want on your side if you have serious plans about getting better at the sport you love. In his own words, here are five reasons why everyone can benefit from having a coach.
Having a coach makes an athlete accountable to someone other than themselves. The athlete knows that there is someone that has their back. There is someone that cares just as much about their journey as they do.
It is easy to skip a workout, overindulge at dinner, or go to bed late when we are only accountable to ourselves. Knowing that their coach is going to be looking at training files, ask about nutrition and things like sleep helps to motivate an athlete keeping them on track to their goals.
All athletes have heard at one point or another that “consistency is king!” Give me a naturally gifted athlete who trains sporadically versus an athlete who is consistent in their training, without any inside knowledge, I’ll put my bet on the consistent athlete every time.
Accountability produces consistency, and a consistent and deliberate plan is key to making fitness gains, which in turn produces results. No matter their goals, all athletes want results.
When it comes down to it, the majority of athletes aren’t capable of being objective about their training. Many athletes will train too much, too hard, or not enough and tend to make emotional decisions regarding their training. A coach provides an objective view of training to make data-driven, rational decisions to keep the athlete progressing.
A coach thinks big picture. It’s about the overall goals, not just now. It is about the health of the athlete, not just one race. It’s about life balance, not just training.
The body treats mental stress and physical stress the same way. For example, an athlete has a major project deadline coming up and is working 16-hour days to meet that deadline. Many athletes would push through such a period, but a coach will objectively look at the situation and recognize an athlete’s overall stress as opposed to just their training stress, and adapt training accordingly.
Coaches have the education and skills to help optimize every aspect of an athlete’s training to ensure they produce their best results on race day.
A coach has knowledge of anatomy and physiology and understands how to apply it to the training process. A coach understands how to apply a training load to appropriately stress each athlete in order to illicit a certain adaptation and attain a new level of fitness.
A coach understands nutrition and hydration and how it applies to training and racing. A coach can share competition tactics for their sport or sports and can develop a plan based on the specific challenges of a competition. A coach knows how to balance different types of stressors that athletes encounter and how to build this into the overall plan.
I touched on this earlier when discussing objectivity. I think this aspect of coaching is very important and highly undervalued. Coaches help provide balance in an athlete’s life. The athlete can focus on family, work, social life, responsibilities, etc. and not think about how to plan training around it all.
They can look at their training calendar the day before or morning of and execute the planned training for the day. Then they go on with their life while their coach analyzes the training and adapts it accordingly to fit in with the athlete’s big picture goals.