Finding the Right Coach

If you are an athlete eager to improve, one of the best ways to accomplish your goals is to work with a coach.  But no matter how good a coach's reputation, credentials, and recommendations, it is whether that coach's particular style resonates with you that will determine if the relationship is fruitful. Athletes looking for coaches should never settle on the most convenient one. Instead, they should conduct a thoughtful search. How do you find a coach who will suit your needs? Begin by answering the following questions.

What are you hoping to accomplish?
Spend some time thinking about your goals, then write them down. An honest self-assessment is critical in this step, so be truthful and keep your goals realistic. Someone who wants to be nurtured will have different coaching needs than someone who wants to be taken to the next level. If there is something very specific that you want to improve, keep that at the front of your mind when choosing your coach. Coaches have different areas of specialization. A tennis coach who specializes in mental preparation, no matter how good, might not be the right coach for you if your goal is to improve your forehand volley. When interviewing potential coaches make sure to communicate your goals. A good coach will tell you if he or she is the right person for the job.

What approach works for you?
Coaches have different philosophies. You need to find one whose philosophy works for you. Some coaches advocate working with what you already have; others are proponents of change. Some coaches support your ideas and nurture your goals, others introduce new perspectives and help you see beyond your boundaries, and still others are taskmasters who set deadlines and keep you on track. Are you a sensitive person who needs to be validated, or do you like to be pushed beyond your limits? The answer will determine what kind of coach you need.

Do your personalities match?
Use your intuition and gut feelings when you talk to potential coaches. No matter how many swimmers a particular coach has brought to the top, you won't be headed there yourself if your personality and that of the coach are not complimentary. Keep in mind that a coaching relationship is often very intimate and intense. You often share feelings—like your hopes, dreams, fears, and ambitions—that you don't even share with family and close friends. You need to feel a rapport with your coach. Do you think you can talk to this person, and to you think he or she will respond in a non-judgmental, supportive manner?

Are you learning . . . and having fun?
Once you choose a coach, allow a little time to get to know one another. Then evaluate the relationship. If you are meeting your goals and having fun, then chances are you've made a good decision. If, after a certain time period, you feel as if you've made the wrong decision, don't stick it out. If the relationship is not working don't feel as if you or your coach has failed. Quite simply, you are working with the wrong person. A good coach will most likely agree that you need to move on, and will wish you the best of luck in attaining your goals.

Information is for educational and informational purposes only and is not be interpreted as financial or legal advice. This does not represent a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any security. Please consult your financial advisor.