A coach is so much more than a person with a stopwatch on the pool deck or a keyboard monkey who uploads your weekly training. A coach needs to be capable and comfortable in many roles. There are times when an athlete needs just a coach and times when the athlete needs the coach to be a mentor, teacher, motivator, leader, role-model and definitely at times, a friend.
Qualities of a good coach
What makes a good coach is always a good discussion and can be debated inside and out. To start, it is important to remember that you can have too much of a good thing. A good coach is an individual who is very well balanced, with a good formal education, good practical and technical experience and knowledge and good people skills. While formal education, certifications, coaching levels, athletic achievement and so forth are excellent attributes for a coach to have, they don’t automatically make for good coaches.
A coach needs to be proficient in a wide array of skills and amass much experience and knowledge to do his job well. The most important trait a coach needs to have is the ability to communicate. This doesn’t mean that all he does is talk sport science nonstop, but rather that he actually listens to you, the athlete, and knows the importance of feedback and open communication in the athlete/coach relationship.
A coach should always conduct himself in a professional manner. A coach must also have empathy and compassion, and it is important that a coach understand what it is like to be an athlete–but he does not need to be a current or former professional athlete. He just needs to be a dedicated and caring professional coach.
A coach understands that every athlete is different and coaches each athlete as an individual and gives the athlete exactly what she/he needs. A good coach is creative and knows how to keep a training program fresh and enjoyable and how to integrate it into the life schedule of the athlete.
Finally, a coach should be passionate about his work, and this should be reflected in his enthusiasm for the sport and in coaching athletes.
Ultimately, you are looking to build a relationship over time with this person, so it is important that the coach possess many of the qualities that you feel you need from a coach.