Starting a new endeavor is always incredibly exciting. The world is your oyster, full of unexplored roads and limitless opportunities. Beginning your coaching journey is no different.
Having been coaching for over 7 years now, I wanted to take some time to reflect on my journey. Through this contemplation, I've distilled 5 key pieces of knowledge that would be invaluable to my younger self (or any other coach for that matter).
Let's start off with a nugget of gold.
1 - You don't know everything. You aren't expected to know everything.
Getting asked a series of questions that you aren't sure how to answer can leave an inexperienced coach grasping thin air for any semblance of an answer. It can seem a daunting prospect to be asked something by a client, who is paying you to have the answers, and having to tell them that you don't have the answers.
This is okay. Everyone is human. You aren't expected to know everything.
Clients are often far more forgiving and understanding when you are straight up with them and tell them that you aren't entirely sure. People's bullshit radar is far better than you may think.
Telling the individual that you need 24 hours to look into their question before you can present them with a suitable answer is completely okay and often, they'll appreciate the extra effort and attention to detail you're putting into their questions.
2 - Not every client wants you to flex your in-depth knowledge
If your client has no desire to learn the finer points of exercise and anatomy, why do you insist on explaining to them how you're using a lateral distraction to bias frontal plane activation through adductor upregulation?
Best case scenario? They let you explain and enjoy hearing how you have justifications for the methods you're using with them.
Worst case scenario? They're actively bored and disinterested in your perceived ramblings and this can foster disengagement/discontent.
Some clients may love finding out why you choose the exercises and movements you do. Not all will though. Learn your client, read the room and your coaching will prosper.
3 - You are not the right fit for everyone.
If you try to be the person who pleases everyone, you'll often lose or damper your personal touch and unique qualities. By spreading yourself across so many different personas, you often dull the very traits that exist within you that your clients relate to and connect with.
Just like life, you will have had (or have coming) a realisation that you're not everyone's cup of tea. Some people won't connect with you for essentially no tangible reason but as that's something outside your control, you shouldn't give it a second thought.
This applies to coaching as well. You may view your motivating methods as the best piece of equipment in your coaching toolbelt but there will be times when those exact methods rub someone the wrong way.
You aren't the right coach for everyone. Recognise this and be at peace with it.
4 - Everyone is not the right fit for you.
Just like how a client may not find you the fit for them, you won't always connect with every client you work with. These don't have to occur simultaneously either.
You'll likely encounter a time when a client has expressed positivity around training with you but you've seconded-guessed whether you're the right person to help them.
This could come down to a host of different factors, often fitting a "hard distinction" or "soft distinction" catergory.
Hard Distinctions (factors to consider but harder to change);
- skill set
- Training environment - scheduling & logistics
Soft Distinctions (things to actively be aware of & assess)
- Motivational style
- Personality type
- Client goals & self-drive
Building your emotional and social awareness to be able to try to connect with someone and "speak their language" can help us bridge gaps with people we may not relate well.
This being said, not every client is the client you want. You want to feel energised & positive when engaging with your trainees, not like you're having to watch grass grow or you're pulling teeth out.
5 - Your Care, Compassion & Character affect people more than you realise
“Be the person you needed when you were younger.” - Ayesha Siddiqi.
I think this quote is great, even beyond the "when you were younger" part. I think expanding past an age viewpoint and aiming to use your skillset to be the person someone needs can be incredibly impactful.
You don't know what kind of influence you truly have in someone's life.
The teenage athlete you're helping prepare for his sport may be struggling at school and feel like they have no outlet to vent about life's pressures. You can be a positive influence in that situation.
The middle age desk worker that is trying to shred the extra weight they've put on over the last 10 years may feel like it's a hopeless endeavour and that they should give up and not bother. You can be a positive influence in that situation.
The later-age grandparent who wants to stay healthy and active enough to be able to pick up and play with their grandkids but doesn't know where to start with exercise. You can be a positive influence in that situation.
Using your skillset, both as a person & a coach, can have a tremendous impact on the people's lives that you engage with. Be a consistent, positive beacon they can rely on.