Coaching Age Groupers

The following is from Scott DeFilippis – he’s coached Gary for 3+ years and recently he’s taken on Adam on his quest to qualify for the big dance. We asked him for his perspective on coaching age groupers…

I’ve been training age group athletes now for 3 years.  I’ve worked with athletes that simply wanted to complete an Iron Distance race all the way up to an age group world champion.  The one thing for me that stands out is that if an age grouper really wants to achieve their goals, they need to work with a coach that is going to design a program for them!  Being an age group triathlete can be a much harder life then a Pros if they are balancing work, family, friends…The time they have to commit to training can be very limited because of life commitments and a good coach should adjust a plan for an illness, a child’s soccer team qualifying for the championships, family celebrations, early or late meetings, etc…But most importantly you have to keep it fun for them.  Age groupers aren’t trying to make a living from the sport, in fact in some cases the sport might be putting them in debt so if its not fun, then why do it??

What Makes A Good Coaching Relationship

I think continuing on the last piece.  A good relationship is communication!  If something comes up, mail your coach!  Most coaches have different price levels they offer so receive this kind of service you are going to have to pay “the big bucks” But which would you rather have, a cookie cutter program that a dozen others are doing?  Or a plan that is designed around your life, to meet your needs as an athlete and person?  You after all forking over thousands for your bike, thousands for an A race in far away location, hundreds on your gear, hundreds on the your nutrition.  Don’t you think you should be putting your coaching as the number 1 priority?

Take good notes, communicate, communicate, communicate!  That is what you are paying for!  A coach doesn’t know if you have come down a cold or a niggle unless you notify them!  If you were up late at a friends wedding or up early for a last minute meeting, let your coach know!  Your dreams are your coaches dreams!  A good coach takes pride in what they do and its not a bother to make adjustments if it means helping you achieve your dream!

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Things That Annoy Coaches

My biggie is when my athletes don’t fill in their training logs.  I use training peaks to build my athletes programs and so once the sessions are complete, I get a nice little email notifying me how it went.  I pay for this service as part of my athletes commitment to me, I ask them to please fill in the log.  Its the same as brushing your teeth at night or showering after a ride.  Keep the communication coming!

The other thing that annoys me is when I build a plan for an athlete, I build them weekly -biweekly for my athletes…I get nothing back, and then I see on facebook that they are off skiing for the weekend.  Come on people, you are paying for a service, a service that a human brain has come up with not just a computer generated program…Your coach has feelings too:)

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How do you know when things are working?

If an athlete is taking good notes, its pretty easy to see when they are ready for a rest.  If an athlete comes down with illness or fighting some niggles you have to pull them back.  Most triathletes are paranoid, we think we can take a day, or two, or a week off because we think all the training will disappear and this completely false!  As a coach you have to show an athlete that is struggling that its ok to rest, recover, then attack once the body and mind is ready to!

What Do You When An Athlete Has Unrealistic Goals?

People take up endurance sports for various reasons, but usually they are personal reasons. Lance Armstrong once said, “Most endurance athletes train because they are running away from something”  To some degree he is right.  If someone has a goal and they truly believe they can achieve that goal, who am I to say they can’t achieve it.

Having said that…when I have an athlete that has an astronomical goal, I try to show them through training that maybe they have set the bar a touch too far. You must gently show them how high the bar is and the numbers it will take to hit such goals.  Usually the pin will drop and rather than give up they lower the bar a notch…Get over that hurdle then look to the next!

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