It is a good question. One I have been asked on a few occasions. I am a strength coach, a researcher in the field, and have experience as an athlete in multiple strength sports. Why pay someone else for coaching?
I have three key reasons; perspective, accountability and learning.
If you have ever learnt about the Johari Window you will know that there are things about yourself you are unaware of.
Essentially, the Johari Window has quadrants that describe how you see yourself and how others see you. There are things you know and don’t know about yourself. There are things others know and don’t know about you. The image below is an illustration of the Johari Window.
If applied to the coach-athlete relationship, this demonstrates that when we have a coach another area of this quadrant becomes available. An athlete can miss things about themselves that the coach may see. This could be in the way they move, how they respond to training, what they avoid in training and aspects of how the athlete competes.
I like to know that I have someone else’s perspective – another coach with experience and knowledge that differs from mine – assisting with my training.
If you’re a motivated athlete you should always be willing to push through tough training days, to finish all of the five planned sets rather than stop after three.
It is a nice theory but in reality, even motivated athletes have days when training is a struggle. Days when setting foot in the gym just doesn’t appeal. It is on these days that having a coach ensures you don’t miss sessions or skip exercises. On these days the coach is an advantage. You have someone you are accountable to.
Note that I am not saying you should never take a day off from a training plan, or ease back during a session. However, having a coach means you will push through the days when you may otherwise simply be lazy.
On the flip side of this equation, a good coach may ensure that – as a motivated athlete – you don’t push too far when signs show you may be better to ease back. It goes both ways.
I like to take every opportunity I can to learn. I am of the opinion that everyone can teach you something – whether in coaching or life. I have had different coaches in various sports and learnt something of value from each of them.
Of course, this doesn’t mean I want just anyone to coach me. I ensure they have more experience in the sport, or specific aspects of a sport, that I am hoping to improve in. For instance, my current coach – Richie Wong – has coached on New Zealand teams and has many years of experience within the sport of weightlifting. When I first started working with him I had very little experience in weightlifting – simply a few local competitions.
Richie hasn’t just helped to improve my technique and numbers on the platform but has been a mentor to me as a weightlifting coach. We have been working together for just over a year now. In that time I have learnt how to coach during competitions, became a technical official, developed in aspects of program design and gained a greater understanding of technique. He has also helped me to develop networks with others in the sport – other coaches who I have been able to learn from.
Clearly, if you find a knowledgeable and experienced coach you benefit in more than just your performance. So long as you ask questions and are willing to listen.
A good coach is able to offer insights that you alone may miss. They can help to push you when you otherwise would slack, or pull things back when you are overzealous. Coaches are also teachers, you are bound to learn more about the sport, and about yourself.
I hope you enjoyed this piece! Feel free to get in touch with me via Instagram or Facebook if you have any questions or comments.