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6 Essential Coaching Attributes

Over the course of this year I’ve dealt with many instructors. 2 gyms have sent their staff to me for instruction in the basics of kettlebell lifting, I’ve had a young student in learning to become an instructor and I’ve been around the country teaching workshops in various gyms attended by not only the gym owners but also coaches from all over Ireland.

We also get many instructors through our doors on a regular basis, come into my regular Kettlebell Classes and you’ll find a couple of Karate teachers, GAA coaches and more. This theme continuous into the Wild Geese Martial Arts section too, we toyed for a while with changing our marketing to read:

“Wild Geese: Where your instructor comes to train”

But we decided against it..

What I want to present today are a few of the traits I believe all good instructors/coaches should not only aim to develop in themselves, but to actually embody. These are the traits that will separate you from the masses, will ensure that your reputation grows and your clients stick by you.

  1. Develop Integrity

Be genuine. Have the guts to say “I don’t know.” Have the courage to refer people on to other coaches/services. Be strong in what you do best and don’t water it down to get bums on seats.

  1. Have a thirst for knowledge Never go to bed without having learned at least one thing. We can’t be an expert in everything, but we can have an ever broadening skill set to work with. Make the effort to read from and listen to viewpoints that challenge your own, this is where real growth happens.

  2. Get to know your clients This goes deeper than simply learning their name. We need to know as much about them as they do themselves. You need to be able to read them as if they were an open book. There is a lot of talk about assessing clients at the moment. I believe that if you study your clients enough and really get to know them then you can be assessing them from the minute they step on the floor to the minute they leave.

  3. Punctuality Being late for a clients appointment doesn’t reflect well on you as a professional. Think about how you feel when a client into you late, now amplify that two or three times and that’s how they feel when you are late.

  4. Take time to answer questions in detail “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein We don’t need to give a science lecture every time we are asked something, but we do need to have the ability to help our clients understand what and why we are asking them to do.

This last point is something close to my heart. It’s a point I’ve been trying to drill into my young apprentice, but he still tries to give lectures every time someone needs a quick coaching point. I wrote once about an iPhone analogy one client once used to describe my coaching style.

He said something along the lines of:

You’re like an iPhone. An incredibly complex piece of kit, yet so simple to use. Think about what an iPhone actually is. Imaging how much technology and work it took for you to be able to casually pinch your fingers together on the screen and shrink that image. So much complexity, yet with such a simple interface to make it happen.

That is the absolute key to coaching.

You must have the highest level of knowledge in your chosen training methods, and you must understand them so well that you can explain them to a child. The people you are training are not impressed by your ability to rattle off long winded explanations, remember complicated Latin terminology. They don’t care if you’re a high school drop out or a PhD. All they care about is if you can get them results or not.

Of the array of instructors I have dealt with over the years, be it working beside them in a gym or teaching them as a subject matter expert, I am always disappointed by the level of knowledge and curiosity shown by the young guys starting out in the industry. If you are one of them I urge you to do one thing, its number 6 on the list, and I’ve saved the best till last:

  1. Question everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s your best mate, your boss, a world renowned coach or Me that tells you something. All that matters is that you take what your told and you question it, you dig into it and you see if it holds water. Don’t accept anything lightly, especially if you are planning to take this info and pass it onto our clients.

Being a coach or an instructor is a huge responsibility, people will look up to you as a role model, a source of inspiration and knowledge. You owe it to your clients to live up to these ideals.

If you don’t, get a different job.

Next Workshop:

Bodyweight Training – 10th November, Galway Kettlebells. Contact me on info@wildgeesema or Sarah on for more details.

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