Coaching Principle: ‘Turn up like a Coach’

Trainers’ train, a coach inspires – Martin Rooney

What does the above quote by the legendary Martin Rooney mean to you? There’s been a long trend of trainers being boxed into the ominous category of ‘rep counter’ or as Nathan Quin, head of FTI education would say ‘cheer leader’. Are trainer’s not more than just an automaton there to merely motivate their clients with impersonal and repetitive fitness jargons!?

The concept of a coach derives from the old fashioned ‘Coach and Horse’, where the horse would pull and drive forward the coach. The meaning within the performance and fitness realm is to foster conditions and create strategies that facilitate progress and overall improvement in whatever they are being coached in.

A business coach isn’t there to do the work for you. A football coach certainly will not provide the final result on the field. Their job is to bring out the best in his or her athletes. In other words, the coach is there to inspire. They are more than motivators and certainly not just an accountability automaton, although that is part of the overall process of being a good coach.

Think back to a time where you were coached in business, school, sport or any other activity. How did that coach relate to you? Did they create an environment where you could flourish and that brought out the best in you? Or did they criticise you constantly, providing little or no degree of feedback to help you grow?

There are many qualities that make up a great coach, many of which are covered in the coaching corner. Let’s explore a few of them:

Good communicators

A great coach will be able to communicate a seemingly complex thing and simplify it and thereby making it more meaningful. Rather than point out the obvious such as ‘you need to aim straight to hit the target’ a good coach will phrase it differently. ‘Picture the target being hit’ would be a more visual way to deliver the same point.

Ask questions

A coach will skilfully ask questions to draw out a response from their coachee. Rather than tell, they will ask. The Socratic method has been around for thousands of years and will be around for many more to follow. Asking the right questions will provoke thoughtfulness and open up dialogue that provides valuable insight and direction for the client, student or athlete. A coach will not simply have a list of Do’s and Do not. They will ask ‘is this the best route to take? What will be the consequences if you decide to do this? To make independent learners, a coach will ask questions to provoke a response that will challenge and make their subjects come up with an answer.

Facilitate Growth

Let’s face it, a coach is a teacher but not all teachers are a coach. Think back to your school days and recall those teachers who you enjoyed class time with and learned a tonne from. Chances are your teachers told you what to do otherwise you could be in trouble with passing your exam (fear factor). To be inspired you need purpose. A coach will provide a platform for you to realise your potential by encouraging growth. What is your best learning style and what are the things you enjoy most? If we take this into the personal training filed, why cannot we apply these same principles. What type of exercises do they like doing? What equipment do they like using? Kettlebells! Battling ropes! ‘No I hate that shit’…well why give it to them? There are always alternatives and you cannot force them into something they dislike.

This list is not exhaustive and we will most certainly be exploring more of these principles that delve deeper into such qualities throughout these coaching corner principles.

It is important for the coach to turn up each session they give as if it is their last. When you turn up you are ready to inspire and make a difference in the lives of those clients, students or athletes. If you desire the best out of your clients, you need to be the best.

Coach’s Tip:

Next time you take a client or group through a personal training session, get to know something about them that will make them feel appreciated. To make it more personalised you need to go that extra mile to find out what makes them tick. You will build more trust with them and ‘increase the emotional bank account’ as Stephen Covey puts it. By building more trust you can start to inspire them to do great things.

Draw out a list of questions that will allow you to make more of an impact in your sessions. What can you do differently to add more variety and ‘mix things up’? Adding games or cognitive challenges will stimulate your clients with positivity and ensure your sessions do not go stale.

How can you make the environment more conducive to growth for them? Come up with a brief survey that will allow the client to provide critical feedback for you to improve the sessions. Do not be afraid yourself to seek continual improvement. In fact, we will delve into this more in our next principle ‘Mirror the best’. Until then, Keep Reaching!

Reference: ‘Rooney’s Rules’ by Martin Rooney

Martin is an incredible story teller and motivator. He is regarded as one of the greatest fitness coaches and is truly inspiring. In this book of quotes you will not be short of drawing on ideas to make you turn up like a coach and give your best every session.



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