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What are the Benefits of Having a Coach? Is It Really Necessary?

A coach can be a great motivator for any athlete. I remember when I first started working with a coach; the fact that you are now accountable for your workouts puts a whole new drive behind your training.

Benefits of having a cycling coach


Why would I need a coach?

Aren’t coaches only beneficial for elite level athletes?

Wouldn’t I be better off investing that money in better equipment?

These are some of the misconceptions that are prevalent in the many cycling communities. The truth is that everyone can benefit from the help of a coach.
The investment in a coach will be the most effective money that an athlete can spend. A coach offers the athlete so much that self-coaching just can’t provide, such as motivation, bringing knowledge and a specific plan to the training, and most importantly, being able to look at an athletes performances and determine the best path forward.

A coach can be a great motivator for any athlete. I remember when I first started working with a coach; the fact that you are now accountable for your workouts puts a whole new drive behind your training.

Additionally, if you are paying the coach, you want to make sure you’re getting the most for your money, which is another great motivator.

In all honesty, not every coach is right for every athlete. I think it’s important that the coach and athlete mesh well, that the coach understands where the athlete wants to go, and that the athlete understands the expectations of that coach.
If the connection isn’t right, the athlete won’t find the desire to work for their coach.

An easy way to see how well the coach and athlete might work together is to talk, either face to face, or over the phone.  Ask lots of questions about how they develop their training plans and about their philosophies. Once you have a coach, be prepared to give them feedback for all of your workouts and you’ll begin to see results.

For me, the desire to impress my coach, and not let them down was a strong motivating factor; it pushed me in ways that I never could have found on my own.

Coaches have developed their coaching philosophies based on their past and their education. A good coach never stops learning, there are new techniques and theories that are introduced each year, and those who stop pursuing the knowledge become stale.

Benefits of having a cycling coach 2When an athlete hires a coach, they are gaining the knowledge of that coach. The coach will be building training plans and educating the athlete on how to train smarter and why they are doing the things that they are doing. 

Staying on top of the newest technology allows a coach to answer questions that their athletes may have about a piece of equipment, nutritional concerns, or a new training technique that a friend told them about.  Additionally, by continuing to learn, a coach develops a bigger knowledge base, allowing them to develop very specific training plans to meet the demands of their athlete, guiding them to achieve their goals.

Coaching is both an art and a science. I say this because no two athletes react the same to every stimulus, therefore cookie cutter programs can only do so much for an athlete. This is where the advantage of a good coach really becomes apparent.

While it’s true that you know your body better than anyone else, using a coach and providing them with feedback and data from your rides can allow them to notice changes in your performance and address them before you really notice things are going wrong. 

For example, this spring one of my junior athletes was making really big gains, but I noticed that on his hard workouts his heart rate wasn’t getting up as high as it had in previous weeks.

I was able to compare similar workouts and overlay the data from several hard workouts, showing that while he was still feeling good, the trend showed he was on the verge of over-training. 

After recognizing this, I immediately gave him a day off and moved his rest week up in the schedule. When he returned to his normal training routine he set a new personal best and got his top results of the season.

I talked with him and while he noticed his heart rate wasn’t getting quite as high, he admitted that he was pushing himself harder to try to get it to where it normally was. This is a trap that many self-coached athletes can fall into. 

Having someone on the outside who can evaluate the performances, and the reactions of the body to those efforts, can pay dividends and find the big gains, rather than developing into a situation where over-training is a very real possibility.

While I may be biased as a coach, I truly believe that there is no better performance investment that a cyclist can make than hiring a coach. People spend thousands of dollars every year to own the latest and greatest equipment.  But have you ever noticed that even with better and better equipment, most of those people don’t get any faster? 

If they had kept their older equipment and invested that money into coaching, I’m positive that they would have seen bigger gains than they did from buying the newest components.  Bang for your buck, coaching is your best bet for performance advances, period!


1Author: Marc Prosser
A total convert to all things cycling after (mis)spending his youth running around after a football. Loves all things bike, but has a special interest in road racing. Favourite bike would be a Pinarello Dogma black - so completely black that it would make Johnny Cash proud. Favourite cycling team: Saxo Bank. Favourite rider: Jens Voigt.

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