Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Coaches Role is not to Rule | Listen to Your Clients Needs

"I will always listen to my coaches. But first I listen to my body. If what they tell me suits my body, great. If my body doesn't feel good with what they say, then always my body comes first. "

Haile Gebrselassie, Ethiopian long-distance track and road running athlete


I love that quote.  I love athletes who take responsibility of their own performance and know how to pay attention to what their body is telling them.

I have been coaching and mentoring for over a year.  It came to be by accident.  Several runners approached me at local events wanting my coaching advice. Since I had coached track in my earlier years - it was a natural fit.  Recently, I was able to receive my RRCA Running Coach Certification, to make it official.  A grueling 2 day class with weeks of studying to pass the final exam. That exam was one of the hardest tests I have ever taken.

In the past year or so, I have seen and been around two types of runners.  Those who take responsibility for their health and those who do not. Those who do not take responsibility for their own health are not my clients for very long.  I am only a GUIDE to their fitness goals - I am not the reason a clients succeed or even fails.  The work comes from the client, not from me.  At the Finish Line - it is their name next to the Finish Time, not mine.  They get the Glory, but they also must take responsibility for their own training.

My clients call me "Compassionately Tough" - I will push them to their limits (and they hate me when I do that!), but be there at the end when they need encouragement and high-fives.  

As a Coach I have one rule I coach by - "listen to your body"

A 50 year old woman (like me) cannot train as a recent High School Graduate.  The body is different, their health is different - it cannot be a cookie-cutter system and one-size fits all program.  If you do - you are leading your athletes to burn-out and injury.  If you are an athlete and your coach or mentor is training you the exact same way as another client, you are heading for injury, frustration and burn-out.

It is my belief that a Coach's primary job is to motivate and GUIDE.  Find out what works for your client.  Not assume everyone will have the same athletic ability or even motivation for running. 
  • I have had clients who love track work.  So we work on the track.
  • I have clients who don't love track work.  So we work on Fartlek's
  • I have clients who don't like anyone running along side of them - so I coach them virtually
It takes time to find out what works for your client.  Whether you are a Coach, Mentor or a Group/Team Leader you must, must, MUST look at each of your clients as an individual.

If they are hurting or under motivated on a training session - find out why.  Did they eat properly?  Are they hydrated?  Is there a life issue that is stressing them out?   Coaching is not just about - "here is a running schedule - do it" it's about the person.

I believe that the athlete/coach relationship is a partnership, not a dictatorship.  Together the athlete achieves their goals.  I consider it an honor to be a part of their journey towards their ultimate goals. The Athlete is responsible for their performance, Coaches are only Guides. 

  • There are times when a client says to me, "I can do more!" - we do more
  • There are times when a client says to me "I can't give anymore!" - we maintain where we are

What type of coach are you?  What type of Coach do you aspire to be?

What type of athlete are you?  Take responsibility or allow someone to dictate your success or not-so-successes?

Coaches/Mentors/Leaders:  Listen to your clients
Clients:  Listen to your body

(c) C. Ragsdale 2011-12
Run F.A.B.,

Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
RRCA Certified Running Coach, IFA Certified Sports Nutritionist & Public Speaker
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