What makes a good coach?


Have you ever worked with a coach?  Have you participated in an online support group for your weight loss or athletic goals?  My guess is, if you are here at The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans, you probably have in some way, shape or form.  While I’ve never hired a “professional” coach, I’ve certainly had individuals in my life I’ve referred to as “coach” and groups I’ve joined in an effort to find some motivation and strength in numbers.  Thankfully, most of my experiences have been good ones, but recently I was left with a very poor “coaching” experience.  I won’t go into details, but it definitely made me think about what makes a good coach.

When I think about the qualities of a good coach, whether that person is a sports coach or someone just helping you achieve your fitness/eating/weightloss goals, several qualities come to mind.  (Keep in mind, these are what being a good coach means to ME and what makes a good coach for YOU may be entirely different.)

  1. Your coach should be highly knowledgeable in the area he/she is coaching you.  While this doesn’t necessarily mean professional experience, a well-rounded self-knowledge is very important.  They should have “played the game” you are coaching.  They should be willing to do some research and be able to answer your questions accurately.  If they don’t know an answer, they should be able to say, “I don’t know, but let me find someone who does.”
  2. Your coach should take the time to get to know you and what motivates (or doesn’t) motivate you.  They should have an honest interest in helping you achieve your best.  Someone who calls themselves a “coach” because they are simply getting a discount on a product but don’t care to see you improve really isn’t a coach.
  3. A good coach needs to be someone who is supportive of you NO MATTER WHAT.  If you make a mistake or have a less than stellar performance, your coach needs to work with you to problem solve why it happened and what can be done to improve next time.  They shouldn’t drop you or give up on you because you didn’t live up to their expectations.
  4. Along those same lines, a coach should not expect perfection 100% of the time.  Even elite athletes have off days.  Even the most restrictive eating plans often employ an 80/20 rule.
  5. A great coach loves helping people improve.  It is their passion.  They shouldn’t be a coach if they aren’t committed to helping you achieve your goals and be there to not only celebrate your successes, but also pick you up when you’ve fallen down.

I’m sure there are many more characteristics of a great coach, but recently, these have been the most important to me.  I’m hoping that you’ve found these characteristics in the writers here at The Sisterhood and during our fitness and weight-loss challenges – both here and on our Facebook pages.  We are here to provide all the support we can in helping each and every one of you achieve your goals.

As I was watching the Boston Marathon coverage, one of the announcers said, “A dream is a gift you give yourself” and while that is certainly true, having a great coach in your corner to help you realize those dreams definitely helps.  What do you feel makes a great coach?

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