It seems that when it comes to triathlon coaching, name dropping is not just a bad habit, it’s a whole way of doing business. I have gmail, and those that have gmail know that it picks up on the keywords of the emails you get. So because I get lots of emails with the words “triathlon” and “coaching”, I also get a lot of sponsored links about triathlon coaching. I usually follow some of those links, because well, I am curious by nature. The other day, I followed one of those links that took me to a triathlon coaching website that I had never heard of before. Clicking on the “About Us” link got me to a page with a list of the coaches. Each coach had a small bio about themselves and their coaching philosophy. And next to the bios, they each had pictures of themselves next to a triathlon celebrity. One of them was with Mark Allen, another with Greg Welch, Dave Scott, etc. It was pretty obvious that the coaches didn’t have anything to do with those triathlon celebrities, they were just trying to cash in on the credibility that being next to the celebrities gave them.
Some coaches get their credibility from having studied under a famous coach. It’s like the triathlon version of the martial arts world. However, in the martial arts world, this usually means that someone spent years working with a master before going on his own. The triathlon version of this is that a coach goes and spends a weekend with a known coach, exchanges some emails occasionally and suddenly… he’s a disciple. Some former athletes of famous coaches also try to capitalize on the credibility of their former coach. However, the only thing they learned from the coach was what workouts to do, not why they had to do them. So in the end, they have a pretty good collection of workouts, without much knowledge on how to apply them to athletes other than themselves.
There are also those that pay to achieve that credibility. I am sure most readers are aware of the huge percentage (more that 50%) the large coaching outfits charge to their associate coaches. But there are also instances where coaches pay top athletes to just use their name. A couple of years ago, I heard the story of a triathlon coach that paid a multiple World Champion $10,000/year just to say that he was coaching the said athlete.
These examples illustrate a whole way of doing business. Instead of building a practice through hard work and most importantly, results, it seems most aspiring triathlon coaches go for the easy way. They think that, by name dropping, by using somebody else’s credibility as their own, they can quickly achieve the status of expert coach, without the knowledge and the experience to support that perception. All this at the expense of athletes of all levels.