I was contacted recently by an acquaintance who wanted to tap my brain about becoming a tri coach. I asked him the first question I always ask someone wanting to become a tri coach; "Why?" I think that the thought of being a tri coach sounds much more romantic than actually being a tri coach. For one thing, it's hard to make a good living being just a tri coach. I always considered my endurance coaching business as a hobby rather than a career. Don't take this as meaning I'm not serious about it. On the contrary. I love coaching. However, my primary income comes from my other business situations.
The next question I ask is "What background do you have that would make you a good coach?" I ask this one because it seems like everyone that gets themselves in somewhat decent shape and has a few decent results takes on coaching. As I mentioned above, I take coaching very seriously. It's not rocket science but guess who gets the finger pointed at them when a race goes wrong? I feel that being a solid athlete has little to do with being a great coach, or even a good one. The first thing I look at in others that coach is how well they read people. This is most important. Next, I look at their education. Did they go to school for exercise science, human performance, or exercise physiology? Finally, how up to date are they on current training platforms and methods, how well do they know old training platforms and methods, and how flexible are they? In regards to certifications, I feel that the triathlon coaching certifications are more bureaucratic bullshit than anything. I apologize if I sound a bit bitter about the abundance of coaches out there at the moment. I have just spent a lot of time becoming educated to coach and those that just jump on board with no education or experience besides being an athlete themselves diminishes the position. It's hard to watch athletes trusting a coach and then getting injured or hurt because the coach doesn't really know what the hell they are doing or just uses a generic plan that they themselves follow(ed). On the opposite end though, there are also some really great endurance coaches out there at the moment and a lot of great ones to choose from.
One of the things that I discussed with this person though is that if they do pursue coaching, make sure that they work with athletes they enjoy and want to work with. Interview your athletes as much as they interview you. Look for signs of loyalty, and personalities and morals that you appreciate in others. I have been coaching since the early 90's and have worked with all different types of athletes, both ability wise and personality wise. The group that I am currently working with are all terrific people. Well, all except Gus. Gus and Brennan. And maybe Molson. But the rest; the rest are amazing people and good friends. Well maybe not Kenny. Or Annmarie. Or Scooter. Or Jeff...