So, what makes a good coach? It’s not hard to get a coaching certificate and, like in any industry, there is a spectrum of poor to average to stellar.
Athletes/gym members aren’t experts in the field. They enter into a fitness program or gym with trust in the industry professionals. Because there are so many programs out there that tend to give people what they think they need instead of what they actually do, we try to educate.
Many people think that a good coach is strictly a good motivator. If you walk into many gyms, you see trainers leading group classes and YELLING at athletes to GO! There is tons of energy, but not a lot of substance.
We believe good coaches and trainers are calm. They don’t yell across the room to cue an athlete, they are direct and tactical, using different cues until they get desired outcome. They triage movement faults, choosing the one or two that must be cleaned up first, then they move on. They don’t confuse the situation by barking and hollering.
They are focused on movement quality. They understand not only anatomy, but also movement mechanics. They use tools like tempo and mobility exercises to progress an athlete. They program both bilateral and unilateral movements. They know how to build intensity without wear and tear on joints.
Good coaches understand different energy systems and understand that you can’t neglect any of them. Moving for an hour at a high intensity each day is a stressor. It will result in “holes in your game.” Anyone can put together a bunch of movements and call it a workout. But, does the workout have a purpose other than making participants lie flat on their backs, breathless? Does the workout take into account yesterday’s workout? Or tomorrow’s? Is there an emphasis on a desired outcome? Is there regard for adaptation?
Buyer beware: if it looks gimmicky, it probably is. If it’s strictly high-intensity, it isn’t smart. If you aren’t getting a movement screen or instruction before jumping into classes, it’s irresponsible. If no one has asked you about your past training history and injuries, that’s a red flag. If you don’t get personal attention for your weaknesses, imbalances or injuries, steer clear.
Sure, a good coach can and should motivate, but first and foremost a good coach is knowledgeable, calm and strategic. They don’t promise you miracles and they understand your current limitations,. They are people you can trust with your bodies and they can and will get you stronger and moving better over time.