Road Cycling ďIt is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.Ē -- Ernest Hemingway

Coaching Rant

Old 07-02-08, 01:09 PM
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pi.perfection
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Coaching Rant

As you’ll see, I’m not clear on this at all. I’m an observer of my god-daughter’s coaching. Here’s what I think I’m seeing. Respected coach. Gets the really big bucks. Coaching with power. Dedicated athlete – motivated, committed, puts in ANY time required, wants to make it happen. Close to the beginning pro level. Really wants to get there. But the coaching seems to be mostly (not entirely, but largely) “putting the athlete through the paces”. Pro forma. Polite, cheerful, but sort of impersonal. Maybe too busy with other things or pro athletes – not sure. Daily workouts are there most of the time and seem to generally make sense, but there is no sense of prediction – here’s the plan, you're going to make it from A to B and here's how. Nurturing, screaming, demanding, celebrating. On top of it – you know, a COACH, like you had in high school – someone who really knew his/her stuff, who knew you could do it and took your failure as their failure and your victory as their victory. Someone involved with the athlete at least as much as the computer. Someone who will call up and say, “well, yeah, you’re improving a bit, but you’re really not at the point we thought you’d be at 6 months ago - something is not right and we need to change.”

I know there are a lot of people who just want a 3-month training regimen and a coach can do some testing and work up a program for a set fee. I get the idea of levels of coaching – B, C,A; 3, 2, 1; bronze, silver, gold. But something is not right with this picture and I can’t quite seem to put my finger on it.

Also wouldn’t mind someone who will call up and say, “Our relationship is not working, you’re not getting where you want to be and I can ’t keep taking your money. Get another coach....” Someone who values real communication. Not someone who will gladly keep taking the uploads and your money and sending you the workouts – in some cases the exact workout, word for word, you had last month, 6 months ago and 1 year ago.

I know we're not talking about an exact science here. But it seems that a coach should be demanding exact data and have some means of verifying that the athlete is doing exactly what he or she says and if, after X months, there is little improvement then the coach investigates and decides that 1. there is something wrong with the training plan or 2. the training plan should be working so if it is not then either the
athlete is lying about what she is doing or something else is wrong and I don't know what it is so I have no business coaching her or 3. I know what I'm doing, I'm a top expert and if she is doing this program and is showing little improvement then maybe she's not really cut out to be a top pro; it's just a fact, not everyone makes it.

Now I know there are also many top athletes who just coach themselves. Maybe I’m expecting too much of coaches. Either you got it or you don’t, right? Or maybe I'm a bit dull and the simple answer is: "she's got a bad coach, moron, just go find someone else." Okay, that’s my rant. I’m probably inviting rant, and if the rant is against me that’s fine. But I’m mostly just not clear on things and interested in clarity.

Last edited by pi.perfection; 07-02-08 at 01:21 PM.
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Old 07-02-08, 01:20 PM
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Landgolier
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More and more people who are doing this online coaching thing are learning that it's pointless. For youth it's one thing I guess, but an adult should be able to design their own workouts and, assuming they're using sillyness like a powertap and HRM and GPS and whatever other crap you've hooked to your bike to tell you that going fast and hard hurts, analyze the results. Coaching without any regard to form, tactics, attitude in real time, or anything like that is just paying someone to tell you to go ride. If you need that, find another sport.
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Old 07-02-08, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by pi.perfection View Post
Or maybe I'm a bit dull and the simple answer is: "she's got a bad coach, moron, just go find someone else." Okay, thatís my rant. Iím probably inviting rant, and if the rant is against me thatís fine. But Iím mostly just not clear on things and interested in clarity.
Here's a radical idea: instead of voicing your concerns to strangers, you talk about them with the coach in question. Above a certain level it isn't a question of whether the coach is good or bad, but rather is that particular coach a good match for that particular athlete.
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Old 07-02-08, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by pi.perfection View Post
Coaching with power.

I know we're not talking about an exact science here. But it seems that a coach should be demanding exact data and have some means of verifying that the athlete is doing exactly what he or she says and if, after X months, there is little improvement then the coach investigates and decides that 1. there is something wrong with the training plan or 2. the training plan should be working so if it is not then either the athlete is lying about what she is doing or something else is wrong and I don't know what it is so I have no business coaching her or 3. I know what I'm doing, I'm a top expert and if she is doing this program and is showing little improvement then maybe she's not really cut out to be a top pro; it's just a fact, not everyone makes it.
Sounds like the athlete doesn't know how to race her bike, or the training program is flawed.

Because if she's doing the workouts, and providing data to the coach, it should all be gravy.
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Old 07-02-08, 01:37 PM
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I've had these same doubts about private teachers that I've hired to teach my kids music. I have found talking to the teacher is the only way to get them to do a better job. Also, if they fail to respond, then you know it's time to cut them loose.

As for online coaching for a sport, well that just doesn't sound realistic to me. Getting a training plan for your first century off of a website, sure. Expecting someone to analyze numbers only for a serious athlete, no way. How can a person coach you without ever seeing you on a bike? That's not a coach, it's a plan designer, and shouldn't cost much.
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Old 07-02-08, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Spreggy View Post
How can a person coach you without ever seeing you on a bike? That's not a coach, it's a plan designer, and shouldn't cost much.
I'm curious, other than evaluating position, what do you think a coach can learn from looking at someone ride?
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Old 07-02-08, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
I'm curious, other than evaluating position, what do you think a coach can learn from looking at someone ride?
How and when they shift, how well they read breaks and moves and whether they respond efficiently, how well they use the draft, their sense of place in the pack, whether they pull when they want to pull or get forced to do work, attitude and all its various aspects (especially how they respond to suffering), whether their form gets sloppy when they're tired/working hard/whatever, etc... etc...

You know, just all that little stuff that most people realize actually wins you races once you're in good shape.
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Old 07-02-08, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by pi.perfection View Post
you know, a COACH, like you had in high school Ė someone who really knew his/her stuff
You must have gone to a better high school than i did...
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Old 07-02-08, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Landgolier View Post
How and when they shift, how well they read breaks and moves and whether they respond efficiently, how well they use the draft, their sense of place in the pack, whether they pull when they want to pull or get forced to do work, attitude and all its various aspects (especially how they respond to suffering), whether their form gets sloppy when they're tired/working hard/whatever, etc... etc...
None of which has anything to do with what they look like riding a bike and all of which are virtually invisible from a follow car or the side of the road.
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Old 07-02-08, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
None of which has anything to do with what they look like riding a bike and all of which are virtually invisible from a follow car or the side of the road.
Believe it or not, some coaches actually ride with their teams, or go on group rides with the individual riders they train. And you can see most of that stuff from a follow car if you're using one, or in a post-ride debrief with the team/group.
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Old 07-02-08, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Landgolier View Post
... or in a post-ride debrief with the team/group.
And so the slide down the slippery slope begins. And as one who has followed innumerable races from the lead or first follow car, I can say that often when I go back and talk to racers about what I thought was happening with them, it's clear that things were very different from how they appeared.
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Old 07-02-08, 02:06 PM
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OK, your turn. Explain to me why coaches don't need to see their riders ride.
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Old 07-02-08, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Landgolier View Post
OK, your turn. Explain to me why coaches don't need to see their riders ride.
I would if I ever expressed that opinion.
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Old 07-02-08, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
I would if I ever expressed that opinion.
OK, so express your opinion about online vs. live coaching.
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Old 07-02-08, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Landgolier View Post
OK, so express your opinion about online vs. live coaching.
I believe that the difference between the two is greatly exagerated. A good coach/athlete pair can be succesful whether there is live contact or not and a bad match won't be saved by the physical presence of a coach. As to observing a rider in training or competition, I believe there is little to be gained that can't be learned easier and to greater depth through conversations with the athlete. Most of the items previously listed will not be apparant from the outside and even if when they are, the rider still has the best vantage point. The main benefit from having the coach observe the rider is to train the rider to observe and relate what is going on around her and to come to a common understanding of the vocabulary used to describe events.
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Old 07-02-08, 02:53 PM
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I am using coaching from Carmichael Training Systems, online and by utilizing their camps around the country. I also work with my coach at a goal event or two each year, or meeting up for testing. I don't pay anything like big bucks, not even close, and I get all that you are saying is missing. We go over my power files, talk each week about my rides and training...work schedule...life stress...bikes...you name it, review a nutrition and hydration plan, go over tactics and techniques for my events, etc. More than anything, I know any day right where I am in my training, what my goals are, and how we plan for me to get there.

Not sure how to compare that, but just saying.

I can also say this though...the time that I have spent one-on-one with my coach, especially training or testing at a camp, I have learned a psychotic amount, like more in that week than I would have learned via the online dialog in a season. It is a fantastic way to fast track your training and accomplishments, and at the same time afford the services of a world class (if you choose) coach. Without the distance element, I wouldn't be able to afford the Coaching that I am getting.
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Old 07-02-08, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by pi.perfection View Post
I get the idea of levels of coaching Ė B, C,A; 3, 2, 1; bronze, silver, gold. But something is not right with this picture and I canít quite seem to put my finger on it.
You didn't really say which service tier your girl is in...
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Old 07-02-08, 02:56 PM
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Most cycling coaches know less than they should...
Most are famous for coaching a cyclist's strengths and over-looking weak points...
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Old 07-02-08, 03:01 PM
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Just go ride...hard.

That will be $50 please.
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Old 07-02-08, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by damocles1 View Post
Most cycling coaches know less than they should...
Most are famous for coaching a cyclist's strengths and over-looking weak points...
With the certification process and CE requirements put in by Sam Callan, that's becoming less and less true (assuming you choose a licensed coach).
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