Some thoughts on coaching

I always say that the greatest lessons I have learned in my life have happened on horseback.  And today as I spent the morning riding, it provided me some time for reflection and also a good reminder of my true roll as a coach.

My sweet horse is still in recovery mode after close to 4 years of medical issues.  We’re finally getting to where I can ride her again, and this morning the little kid in me just wanted to hop on and gallop!  That’s the best part about riding horse, you feel free, you feel like you are flying.  But when I started our ride today, it became obvious that what I wanted out of time together, was not what she needed.

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See we’re still taking care of the basics right now.  Making sure she builds a base of strength and regains her mobility and even more importantly, starts to feel confident in her ability to move.  As a rider, my job is to provide her with support and listen to her body language.  If she pins her ears and swishes her tail, that’s a sign of discomfort.  If she feels heavy in my hands or trips, I know we have to put our focus away from going fast, and towards engaging her core.

This all turned into a 20 minutes of walk/trot today with a focus on transitions, backing up, going over two trot pulls to encourage her to pick her front feet up better and also plenty of recovery time.  After all that, we headed out to walk around the property and it got me thinking.

What I experienced today with my horse is one of the most important keys to being a coach.  People come to me for a lot of different reasons, but it’s essential to remember that it’s their goals not mine.  My job is to listen, provide feedback, understand all the variables that could be in play on any given day and adapt the work we are doing so they can get the most effective work done.  So often I have a client come in and what I had planned for that day with them gets thrown out the window.  As much as you may want to pull out all the fancy, difficult exercises or push someone to the point of complete exhaustion, chances are if you are working with general population, that’s not a smart decision most days.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Sweat and soreness doesn’t always equal a good workout
  • Always ask about stress and sleep, those two variables have a huge impact on someones ability to train
  • Be willing to adapt
  • Read body language and don’t feel like you have to complete every rep you planned out
  • There are great ways to lateralize a workout to make it effective but reduce a potential risk of injury
  • And above all, remember that it’s not your goals, it’s your client’s and you have to adapt your skill set to help them out.  And if you’re not in a position to provide them with the support they need, be willing to expand your team and get the help you need!

Being a coach in someones life is a huge role, one that needs to be taken seriously because it goes beyond just bring the person that provides a workout.  Everyone you work with has a unique story and journey they are on and they have chosen you to be apart of it!  Take the time to understand them, being willing to provide the feedback they so desperately need and never make it about your ego.  Push them when you know you can, back off when needed.  Every client that leaves you should feel better than they did when they walked in!




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