Your coach plays a significant role in your athletic journey. While some athletes may have one coach for an entire athletic journey, the majority of athletes will likely have several coaching relationships throughout an athletic career. And while this statement may apply best to the high school and collegiate athlete, the concept of a strong coach + athlete relationship is extremely important for the adult athlete who is likely focusing on a lot more in life than just training.
Regardless if your coach sees you in action, monitors you via an online data software program or corresponds via phone or email, a strong coach + athlete relationship will help you become the best athlete that you can be. Hating your coach, not trusting your coach, feeling uncomfortable around your coach or struggling to effectively communicate with your coach are all signs that you do not have a good coach + athlete relationship.
While a coach has his/her responsibilities to treat the athlete like an individual, to properly communicate with an athlete, to be seen as a mentor and guide, to be available to his/her athletes, to provide constructive criticism and to be a supportive and encouraging, there are a few ways for the athlete to contribute to a healthy and strong coach + athlete relationship.
1. Don't deviate from the plan
When you are in a squad environment, there's a good chance that you wouldn't tell your coach, "I'm going to do what I want to do instead of your workout." Not only would this create a negative atmosphere among your teammates but it also shows your coach that you do not value his/her experience/expertise.
Sadly, this happens a lot when you are on your own, without your coach watching over you. Feeling the need to do more or less than what you are prescribed, going harder or easier than the effort you were told to do or skipping and adding sessions as you feel fit, is essentially your way of saying that you know better than your coach.
While there are times to modify a workout, remember that your plan is designed to help you reach your athletic potential and also reduce your risk for injury and burnout.
Next time you look at your training plan, don't make assumptions as to what you think you should be doing and instead, just do it.
You likely love to train hard and you are probably very motivated to reach your upcoming season goals. But your ability to maximize your fitness will directly come from your coach, who has his/her plan (or road map) for how you will improve your physiology and develop you as you prepare for your most important races of the season.
Although coaches come from different backgrounds, some with more notable credentials and knowledge than others, it's important that you see your coach as an expert. The more you value your coaches experience, the more trust you will have for your coach.
Trusting your coach is one of the most important components of having a great coach + athlete relationship. Most athletes will quickly recognize if a coach is the right fit, simply because they feel this sense of connection, immediately. When you trust your coach, you will listen and apply.
While trusting your coach is extremely important, good communication on your end (athlete) is critical. Keeping your mouth shut and simply checking off workouts because "coach said so" is not a healthy coach + athlete relationship. It's important to upload workouts and keep regular comments about your workouts to ensure that your coach knows if your body is properly adapting to the planned training stress. While it's important to listen to your coach (and not focus on the hundreds of other opinions/strategies as to how you think you should train) and trust his/her plan for you, you are encouraged to ask questions to your coach when you simply don't understand how to perform a workout properly.
Trust and communication go both ways - between the athlete and a coach. If you don't trust your coach, feel he/she doesn't want the best for you or you find it extremely hard and difficult to communicate with your coach, you may need to find a new coach.
(Note: When it comes to online coaching, many coaches have different coaching levels. It is important to make sure that every month, you are getting what you are paying for, from your coach. While you may be paying for daily monitoring but not receiving any feedback from your coach, many athletes expect more from a coach than what is listed in your coaching package. If you aren't sure if you are getting what you are paying for, ask your coach.)
3. Be more than just a great athlete, be a great human being.
At Trimarni, we are a family of athletes. Our athletes do not have an elitist mindset but instead, encourage and support one another. There are no favorite athletes on our team and no athlete feels excluded or not wanted. While it's important that we, as coaches, make a constant effort to set boundaries for our athletes so that they understand our expectations for them, it is equally as important that our athletes are exceptional human beings.
It's no fun to be around energy suckers or to be in a negative training environment. Be respectful to the opinions and personalities of your teammates but also be kind to other athletes in the sport.
A great coach will do his/her best to create a positive atmosphere for athletes, both via the internet and in person.
In the event that you feel uncomfortable about a situation, don't complain about it on social media, hold it in or discuss it with another athlete. Talk to your coach. While some situations are minor and become more dramatic than what they should be, it is the responsibility of an athlete to be mature and respectful. For at the end of the day, you aren't just an athlete on a coaching team but you are a human being.
And human beings should not bully, gossip or make others feel less worthy.