6 must-ask questions before working with a coach

Working with a coach is one of the most challenging yet effective ways to improve your training and racing performance.

Challenging because they will probably push you harder than you’re likely to push yourself.

Effective because the right coach will create a program and environment that brings out the best in you, resulting in faster improvements, less injuries and more satisfaction.

I’ve personally had multiple running, triathlon and trekking/mountaineering coaches over the last 12 years. I’ve also coached hundreds of athletes over the last 6 years so I’ve been on both sides of the fence.

Looking back through my experience, I came up with 6 must-ask questions when you’re considering working with a coach.

(And yes, there are many more you could and should ask but these are fundamentally important).

6 must-ask questions before you working with a coach

First, ask yourself ~

1/. How much contact with the coach do I need and want?

Everyone is different and the amount of support, advice, accountability or contact needed by each person is different.

I’ve had clients who are happy to take their program and run with it (pun intended!), ticking off their training sessions, making independent and smart decisions to move or skip sessions and who only reach out to me when they have a specific question or concern.

Then there are other people who need / want more accountability, immediate feedback, reassurance, support or encouragement.

Neither approach is good or bad. It’s just a reflection of your personality so it’s important for you to know what type of support brings out the best in you.

2/. What type of personalities do I work best with?

Again we’ve all got different personalities. For example, there is probably a certain type of person you really struggle to get on well with; being around them just feels like hard work. And there are others who you quickly and easily connect with.

3/. What expectations do I have of a coach?

If you’ve never worked with a coach before, the answer might be none. Or your expectations might be shaped by your previous experience. But it’s important to ask yourself that question and be honest with the answer.

Once you have your answers, now ask your prospective coach ~

1/. How much contact do you normally have with your athletes?

2/. What personalities do you work best with?

3/. What expectations do you have of your athletes?

Notice the theme? 😉

And here’s why -

Because the coach / athlete relationship is ultimately a team or partnership (at least it should be!). So it’s important to make sure your expectations and personalities align and that you’re on the same page. You need complimentary, though not necessarily matching, personalities so it’s easy for you (both) to communicate clearly, openly and honestly.

And like any good relationship, you need to bring out the best in each other.

Sure, there are a thousand other questions you could, and should, ask a prospective coach (and I’ll do a post in the future outlining them). But quite simply, if the fundamentals don’t align, you won’t get the results you want and you’ll be disappointed by the experience.

So do your research, treat it like a job interview (remember you’re interviewing them) and approach it like you would a new business or working partnership. Because when you start on the same page it’s more likely to be successful.


If this has encouraged you to take the next step and consider hiring a coach to help you with your running or triathlon goals (or you want to know the answers to my questions!), there’s not much time left until the 2016 price rise for my coaching programs.

The deadline is February 16, 2016. So if you are highly motivated, independent and enthusiastic, I’d love to hear from you.