Online Coaching

How to Support Your Remote or Online Athletes

BY Mackenzie Madison

Take advantage of excellent online tools and technology to help your remote athletes feel connected, inspired and strong.

In this new digital era, it can be tricky to discern exactly what effective, modern coaching looks like. Previously, coaching has been an in-person experience. In order to adapt and build your business, it’s crucial to use modern tools and focused communication to provide your athletes with the best experience possible. 


Myth: More traditionally oriented athletes can feel resistant to remote coaching. If their coach isn’t within their zip code, they may perceive their ability to communicate as restricted or sparse. They may feel anxious that a lack of communication will lead to misinterpretation of a prescribed workout. 

Reality: Effective online coaching tells a very different story. Thanks to online communication tools, athletes can reach their coach more freely than ever before. Rather than needing to set up one-on-one sessions whenever clarity is needed on a training plan, there is a high likelihood that a text or an email will resolve the issue much faster. 

How to Incorporate Continual Communication

The more you communicate with your athletes, the more supported they feel. TrainingPeaks can deliver athlete workout summaries directly to your inbox. I suggest responding to every workout they complete (that’s right, Every. Single. One)—even if it’s just a quick suggestion or simply “great workout!” Additionally, try to touch base on how they’re recovering after a big race or heavy training block.

Training Data

Myth: An athlete may think their coach doesn’t know how much effort they dedicate to training. This can leave them feeling depersonalized or unmotivated.

Reality: By using online tools, you can gain more workout feedback than you would in a traditional in-person coaching or group coaching session. It also gives your athlete a chance to reflect on their workouts, look at metrics, learn and grow from the increased flow of information. 

How to Go Data Heavy

Work with your athletes so they optimize their data collection. Ask them to try training with a Garmin and/or a heart rate strap. If you want to take it up a level, perhaps you encourage them to track their recovery with a Pulse Oximeter or start tracking sleep metrics

Additionally, ask them to incorporate personal assessment data such as  RPE. Ask your athlete to grade their workout based on how fatigued or fresh they’re feeling. TrainingPeaks helps you keep a massive amount of athlete training data organized and managed in a way that won’t feel overwhelming. Although “going data-heavy” might feel like a lot at first, it will soon become one of the most valuable weapons in your remote coaching arsenal. 

Form Analysis

Myth: An athlete may be using terrible form when they strength train or perform a high cadence or speed workout, and their coach will never know to correct it. There’s a lack of in-person body language reading and understanding effort dynamics. 

Reality: The online coach can always ask their athlete simply record a video of themselves. They will then have plenty of time to analyze and assess movement details. They can also rewind and review irregular movements that are too tricky to see in-person. Instead of arranging a lengthy in-person analysis, an athlete can film at their convenience.

How to Fix Form Using Media Tools

You can assess body cues, form, effort levels and more using video, FaceTime, or Skype. This will allow you to review on your own time and share your findings directly with your athlete view as they critique their own form.

Performance Motivation

Myth: An athlete feels that if they can’t look their coach in the eyes and empathize, then they can’t truly feel motivated or encouraged. Additionally, if their coach never sees them compete, then they don’t understand their athlete’s true potential.

Reality: Your athlete can receive many different sources of inspiration ranging from online motivation, to direct conversations over the phone or Skype. 

How to Motivate and Inspire

Inspiration can come in many forms. Social media gives you the opportunity to share your involvement and personal dedication to sport. You can share interesting training information and provide recognition via shoutouts. Try sending a positive note about one of their recent workouts, or a motivational quote.

Even still, it’s always a good idea to attend at least one of your athlete’s events per year. Perhaps consider hosting a training camp or a low key group meet-up weekend. The travel investment is beyond worth it to create an inspirational and personally fulfilling environment. 

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About Mackenzie Madison

Mackenzie Madison is a professional triathlete and USAT certified coach. She has been competing in triathlon for 18 years and coaching for 15 years. Mackenzie acquired her B.S. in Kinesiology & Coaching and Masters in Exercise Physiology. She is also a former D1 runner and elite cyclist. Mackenzie is also an instructor at the University of Oregon. Learn more about Mackenzie at