How to Onboard Your New Athlete in 6 Easy Steps

  

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You have signed up a new athlete for your coaching services and now it is time to onboard them. There is a lot to do, but with these six easy steps you can make sure that nothing slips through the cracks!

1. Complete the paperwork.

Once you have talked to the athlete and decided to go ahead with coaching, it is time to get the paperwork out of the way. While the necessary documents may vary by county, state, and country there are some forms that are common practice.

First, you may want to have the athlete sign a service agreement outlining what services you will provide, at what price, and setting up the expectations from the outset. Some common things included in this agreement are: communication frequency, how often they can expect data analysis, price, and your expectations of them as athletes.

Next, you will probably want to find out more about their health and athletic history by having them fill out an athlete history and health questionnaire. Some common questions include years in the sport, sports played in school, past injuries, and health considerations.

Finally, you will probably want the athlete to sign a liability waiver stating that they are healthy enough to participate in an exercise program and releasing you of any liability should anything happen. Even if you have an athlete sign a waiver, it is still good practice to carry liability insurance. Consider contacting a lawyer to get details for your specific area.

A quick search online will return some good examples of the above-mentioned documents, as well as further resources.

2. Invite them to connect to your coach account.

After you have completed all of the necessary paperwork it is time to invite them to connect to your coach account.

Open your athlete library and click the “+ Athlete” and then copy and paste the link into an email.

When the athlete clicks the link they will be prompted to login to their existing TrainingPeaks account, or create a new account.

Depending on the level of service you plan to offer and how involved the athlete will be in their training, you may opt for a Premium Athlete account to give them full access to TrainingPeaks’ tools. Learn more.

3. Determine and update thresholds and zones.

Many of the metrics in TrainingPeaks are based off of threshold, or the effort an athlete can maintain for around one hour without fatiguing.

In order to ensure that the metrics are as accurate as possible you will want to make sure that you have their thresholds up to date.

There are several ways to determine an athlete’s threshold, such as looking at past races, reviewing dashboard charts, or conducting a field test. If the athlete has been tracking their training with a device take a look at their past data.

When viewing past data, looking at their peak power, heart rate, or pace for an hour within the last two to three months can provide a good clue on their threshold.

If they have not done an hour effort, consider using their peak 20-minute power and subtracting 5 percent from that number.

If the athlete has recently run a 5K or 10K their times can be inputted into TrainingPeaks to determine their threshold. If they have recently raced a 40K time trial which took around one hour to complete, this could be used for their functional threshold power.

If you don’t have any past data you may want to conduct one of these field tests.

Once you have determined their thresholds for each sport type you will want to update their threshold and zones under their account settings.

4. Import Data.

If the athlete has been tracking and recording their training with a device but not using TrainingPeaks, then the next step is to import that data into their account.

If they have been tracking their training in Garmin Connect then they can connect their accounts to sync all of their historical data.

If they have not been using Garmin Connect then you still may be able to get their data into TP by exporting the files from the site they have been using and then dragging and dropping those files onto their calendar in TrainingPeaks to perform a bulk upload.

Going forward, consider using one of our Auto Sync options to get their files into TrainingPeaks.

5. Create an Annual Training Plan.

Once you have set goals with your athlete and prioritized their race schedule into A, B, and C races, create an Annual Training Plan to act as a roadmap for weekly planning. ATPs can be created based on weekly hours, Training Stress Score, or Goal Fitness.

Reasons for using one option over the other varies by athlete. For beginner athletes and athletes doing long events, consider using weekly hours. For advanced and/or time constrained athletes, weekly TSS may be the better option. If the athlete is preparing for an event with a proven training load requirement, or they have done the race in the past, then target Fitness may be what the doctor ordered!

Once you have determined which methodology you will use to build their ATP you will need to determine the average weekly hours, TSS or Target CTL. This can be done by asking the athlete how many hours they have been training and/or have available to train, looking at past data on the dashboard such as Weekly Duration and Weekly TSS to see what they have been doing historically, or consulting the Performance Management Chart from past seasons.

Alternatively you might want to use one of our guideline charts based on athlete experience and event duration.

6. Start Planning!

Now it is time to get down to the nitty gritty and start planning for your athlete. The method you chose to create their Annual Training Plan will have an impact on how you plan.

If you created an ATP based on hours, then you can start planning as you normally would using the ATP hours as a guide. If you decided to use one of the more advanced methods leveraging TSS, then we suggest using the workout builder to plan as it will auto calculate the TSS for each workout based on the athlete’s threshold.

Learn more about building workouts or get a free workout library to help you start your planning.

Working with a new athlete is all about starting off on the right foot. These six steps will ensure a smooth onboarding process, allowing you to set expectations up front so you can guarantee a healthy coach-athlete relationship from the start!

 

About the Author

Dave Schell

Dave Schell is the Director of Education at TrainingPeaks University. He coaches triathletes and cyclists of all levels from beginner to pro to achieve their highest potential. When Dave isn't traveling the world teaching others how to better use TrainingPeaks, he's trying hard not to fall off of his mountain bike.

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