Qualifying your Advisor

It wasn't long ago that most of our shared information was through books.

I remember when I first discovered internet groups in the 1990's (who else was on Mel Siff's Supertraining group? : ) where anyone could pass on information or share their experiences. While many of the group's had moderators, the level of qualifying dropped significantly.

The uberisation of information sharing has meant that anyone (everyone?) has a voice. While there are many positives to this, there is a potentially dark side too.

Coaching Experts are offering paid internship positions, subscriptions to their private newsletters with promises of blueprints to success & exorbitantly priced workshops.

Each of these may be worthwhile, but as we know from life, one of the best ways to make money is to sell a method to make money.

I don't worry too much if the Experienced and the Wealthy sign up, but most times it's the Interns, the Inexperienced and Students who are targeted.

Below are 3 qualifiers you should apply to those offering advice (especially if they want to charge you!).


1) Minimum 10 Years FULL TIME Coaching Experience

The greatest rate of change for most Coaches is in their first 10 years.

Typically, during this time we evolve from using terms like everyone, no one, always, never, good, bad, recipe, blueprint, etc. to often answering with 'depends'.

When we see the world in the 'black and white' it's natural to have strong opinions: it's either wrong or right.

You'll recognise this in the blogs with titles like 'Why everyone should weightlift' or 'No one should use Tabata intervals'.

However, most Coaches, as they progress start to realise that almost everything has it's place. We think less in terms of wrong/right and more in terms of 'For who? When? And how can we integrate this?'

In other words, we start to see and appreciate the 'grey'.

It's a powerful change in mindset.

If you are looking for advice and guidance you're going to want to make sure your Advisor can see the grey.


2) Minimum 3 Years in at Least 2 Positions

A simple heuristic to embrace is:

Early success for an incoming Coach is due more to the change and less to the methods.

In other words, Athletes might improve their performance when a new Coach comes in because of a freshness of voice, activities or paradigms; not necessarily because the Coach is better.

Imagine the following hypothetical, over-simplified scenario:

You're a Coach whose fitness paradigm is heavily 'game-based'; and you take over from a Coach who had a 'straight-line running' mindset.

For a while the games might inject a new energy into training and there'll be some big improvements in performance.

However, the improvement isn't purely from the games-based approach but rather from this approach being based on a solid foundation of nowhere-to-hide, big-distances, run-till-you-vomit fitness; which, over time will dissipate.

The successful Coach will have to identify what the program is lacking and, perhaps, add some 'straight-line running' into their program.

Coaches who move too quickly between jobs don't get to experience this and think their paradigm is the reason for the improvement.

They're also not forced to reflect on plateaus in performance; nor have to adapt as the squad changes personnel or the Athletes mature; or even change their paradigms to give the Athletes what they need.

Your Advisor should go through this process at least twice to have a deeper understanding of the Coaching evolution.


3) Multiple (Not just 1 Athlete/Team) Successes

When we're honest with ourselves and accept that every year one team has to win the competition (or every Olympics someone has to win the Gold), we can dig a deeper into the reasons for success of that particular team (or individual).

We can distill the 'reasons' for success to the essentials ingredients.

We might find that, through no merit of the Coach, their team has:

  • very few injuries
  • a perfect blend of youth and experience
  • a great tournament draw
  • a few favourable competition decisions
  • a strong, united and invisible board

This is not to disregard the success (my team's successes in terms of premierships is just above negligible) but appreciate there are external factors to every success.

Multiple successes at different franchises, with different Athletes, over different eras and in different competitions starts to flatten out the external factors.

Find an advisor who's had multiple success and you'll find a Coach who has broad perspective to add to your development.



Apply these 3 qualifiers to who you seek advice from and you'll soon see the noise levels drop and information levels rise.

Grant Jenkins is private Coach who enjoys helping Athletes and Coaches develop. Contact him here or follow him on Twitter (@Grant_Jenkins).

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