Monday, August 11, 2008

Can I borrow a bit of your credibility, please?

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.


Train-This said...

But Paulo...... I touched Luc Van Lierde, named my son after him, once racked my bike between Karen Smyers and Lisa Bentley, I did a kids clinic with Smyers, said hi to Lori Bowden and I once stalked Brian Rhodes (okay a few times). My son grabbed Desiree Ficker's butt and in florida I drove by Spencer Smith while he was riding his bike. That makes me a real coach, doens't it?????

Anthony said...

I drove Peter Sandvang from the Auckland airport to Taupo a few years ago....he slept the whole time and I am convinced that means I am a great coach !

JB said...

Let it be known that I own Peter Reid's former shifters. I'll let you imagine what it does for my coaching.

Surf's up said...

completed 2 sprints (check)
5k stand alone @ 25mins (check)
half marathon stand alone 2+ hours (check)
1 Ironman in 15 + hours (check)
1 M-dot tattoo on calf (check)
$500 for USAT coaches class (check)

Believe it or not I didn't make this up...that's the resume' of a new local "coach"

FAT Cyclist said...

while there is little wrong with belonging to the participants category of running/triathlon, who in his/her right mind hires a coach who brags about 15h IM? One either realizes that a good coach does not need to be an accomplished athlete thus he/she wouldnt need to know this dude's PBs, or he/she won't hire someone who barely made it to the generous IM cutoff.

Amanda Lovato said...

Dude! I love this post! I could tell you even more BS that goes on with "coaching" lately, we feel as though we experienced the worst!
Love your realness!

Fleck said...


Come on Paulo, you know there is an "expert" lurking around every corner in this sport.