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Your Guide To Becoming The Best Remote Coach Possible

BY Mackenzie Madison

Remote coaching is stronger and more popular than ever. Here are seven tips to ensure you’re coaching most effectively while overseeing athletes both near and far.

The quick rise in technology has generated a medium where remote coaching is stronger, more reputable and more popular than ever. While there are some cons associated with virtual coaching, the pros of remote coaching can greatly outweigh the cons—especially if the coaching is done right.

What is better than an athlete being able to reach out to you whenever and however? The remote coaching relationship allows the client to train whenever they like—and in today’s busy world remote coaching can provide a support network that in-person coaching can’t. Creating that support network between you and your athlete is key. Here are seven tips on how to further improve your online coaching game.

1. Have Real Life Coaching Experience and Education

One of the best things about remote coaching is that you can apply your in-person coaching experiences to your athletes online. Following your athletes over the years you develop a greater understanding and knowledge bank that you can use to help successfully identify and prevent pitfalls that may occur.

Athletes respect coaches with experience—both in person and out of person. Further increase your experience by continuing or branching out into one-on-one coaching experience. Treat the coaching as a project and not just something to crank out for cash.

2. Overemphasize Communication

You could be one of the best coaches in the world, but yet lack in the ability to communicate with your athletes. Since your physical presence is not possible you need to make up for it by being able to communicate well with your athletes.

Being transparent, concise, honest and understanding when communicating with your athlete is key. Keep things simple with clear-cut information. Make sure to match the athlete experience with the correct level of information.

While less experienced athletes require more communication, they will need less complexity. Athletes whom you’ve previously coached in person might need less interaction and require more advanced training detail and information. Make sure that the amount of communication matches the athlete.

3. Use Technology Advantages

Probably the best and greatest advantage online coaching has over in-person coaching is the consistent, always open doors to getting in touch with your athlete or vice-versa.

You can essentially be by the athletes side in every workout by using data recording devices such as a heart rate monitor, bike computer, power meter, GPS watches, etc.

Online platforms create a massive data library full of information about your athletes training. While remote coaching is still possible without the gear it is definitely not ideal. The more data your athlete can record the better you can assess their training.

4. Constant Feedback

Make the requirement to give feedback and acknowledge your athlete’s training. Require your athletes to give feedback also. Plan on and allow for an open dialogue and reflection of each workout.

Uploading their training along with a brief overview of how the workout went makes the athlete accountable for every workout. Be sure to mention praise along with tips for improvement or what to change for the next session.

Be honest and give all types of feedback—whether its positive reinforcement, advice or discussing what didn’t go well—this is what ultimately helps the athlete grow and is why they hired you. Don’t be afraid of negative feedback.

5. Organized Reminders

Since remote coaching isn’t created at a set time for either you or the athlete, it is imperative to stay on top of what is going on in your athletes training and life.

Make individual athlete profiles for each of your athletes. Include their race bests, goals, thresholds, heart rate zones, etc. Use this to also create notes for their general progression and training.

Additionally, create calendar reminder alerts for your athletes such as when they have a race coming up, birthday, travel, a training camp or work. You want to make sure you stay engaged with your athlete at critical times.

6. Create a Presence

There are so many communication tools to use right now: Skype, FaceTime, text, email, etc. Become as personable as you can as a remote coach. Since you communicate and operate online, increase every aspect of communication and your presence online.

Transitioning from an in-person coach to online coach is made easier if you stick to and enhance your virtual avenues of communication. Be seen through reputable blogs, educational videos—even social media.

Have your athlete do the same by keeping you connected in a similar way such as asking for training videos to analyze, photos of their training session, equipment, etc.

If it is ever possible to meet up with the athlete face-to-face at an event, during travel or passing through, make the extra effort to connect if and when at all possible.

7. Active Motivation

As a remote coach you need to constantly be an active coach instead of a passive one. No matter what you or your athlete’s game plan is, there needs to be a motivational connection.

Whether you plan on organizing general training plans or customize each athlete’s coaching experience, you need to establish a motivational connection.

Highlighting other athlete’s accomplishments or diving into what you’re doing in the sport—whether coaching, at the races or training helps build a community. This is a time where you can really showcase the continual support.

There are so many ways to improve upon your online coaching game. In the end, nailing your remote coaching game comes down to you. It’s about having the mindset in which you prioritize effective communicate, support and follow your athletes throughout their training.

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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 www.kenzmadison.com.