Yesterday I had a bit of fun on facebook, posting a tongue in cheek status about pushing my three year old's racing speed. The jokes that followed often reflected real-life complaints and frustrations that coaches often have.
One of them was the fact that coaches are sometimes faced with swimmers on their team going outside for help with their swimming. There's a mistrust of private coaching. I understand why.
But I am that private coach. A good share of my business involves coaching swimmers who are on a team they otherwise train with. I don't think I'm worthy of that mistrust, but if we're going to get anywhere, I have to understand where the mistrust is coming from. So here are three complaints I often hear about private coaches and what I'm doing to answer them:
1. "Private coaches contradict what I am trying to teach and confuse the swimmer"
This is a huge potential pitfall when multiple voices start giving input to a swimmer. One of the things that I stress before any swimmer I work with takes a stroke in the water is that I will not contradict their primary coach.
I ask them to be honest with me when they think I am, and bring that conflict to me. In almost all cases where the swimmers sees disharmony, there is in fact a lot of harmony between the advice I am giving and what their coach is saying. I ask the swimmer not to focus as much on the details but the concept.
2. Private coaches are charging a lot of money for something I do every day for far less
Many coaches feel a natural pride about what they are doing. They bust their butt in practice, working with big groups of swimmers is a very challenging teaching environment, often for very little in compensation.
I know two things as a private coach: the first is that I will go out of business very quickly if the coaching I deliver is not worth the money it costs. The second is that I have a mission to convince people the value of good coaching- and if I can do that in a broader sense I will make life better for a lot of coaches out there.
3. Private coaches don't make a big difference
This one kind of goes hand in hand with the above. Many coaches rightly argue that a lot of private coaching is not making much of a difference. They already provide a lot to the swimmer in question.
Here are some situations I consciously avoid even though there is quite some hay to be made in these areas:
1. Rich parents who just want to throw money at making their child better
2. Adults who want a "quick fix" in their training
3. People without an honest motivation to get more than what they receive in some other situation right now.
The last one is where I see the biggest opportunities for private coaching. I've found the most success working with swimmers who are not near the best on their team, often on a team that cannot provide enough practice or coaching for optimal development.
When I get the chance to talk to primary coaches, I tell them this "I'm here to make you look good". Which is the truth, because I'm unlikely to get credit for a great performance by one of these swimmers, unless I somehow boast the word out myself.
Having been on the other side of the fence as a college, club and now high school coach, I see opportunities for more coaches to get involved with helping more swimmers.
Are you interested in private coaching to build on what you're already doing? Contact me.