Hi Guy’s, it‘s been a busy few weeks at MBD, with our Residential Camp just having been this weekend. We had a variety of different horses and riders that came and it got me really thinking about coaching.
Finding the right coach is a very personal thing, and it needs to be the right fit for you (and in all honesty, for the coach). As people we all want different things and we all have different traits and personalities. All this needs to be taken into account when we are looking for the coach that is going to help us achieve our goals. Now, the debate about if all coach’s/trainers/instructors should be qualified is not one I want to get into, but I would simply say, make sure you know what experience and/or qualification they hold and what that means. Also, please make sure they are adequately covered by insurance, first aid, etc.
So, and this is only my opinion, a good coach should be someone you are comfortable with, that you respect, that is committed to helping you to reach YOUR goals, that is always prepared to think outside of the box and is going to push you out of your comfort zone. Further to that, I think the coach should be always trying to improve themselves to better help their riders, they should want the best for their clients, even if that means the clients seeks help elsewhere, and they should be committed to all their clients equally.
In order to find the right coach, have a good think about what YOU really want to achieve and how you want to do it. Try to think how you like to learn and also, look at the financial side too. For instance, you may be able to afford one lesson with a really good trainer per month, but are you self motivated enough to be pushing yourself for the rest of the month? You may be better finding a slightly less qualified trainer but being able to have them several times a month to help you keep on track. I think it’s also really important to ask yourself if you want “instruction” (being told what to do continually throughout the session) or “coaching” (being given a task, then riding it and being given tools to help you problem solve yourself).
It’s also important to know that most Coach’s, however well qualified they are, are willing to help riders of all abilities. I know I am. I’m happy to Coach anyone that is willing to try, and who will genuinely put the work in, I don’t care if they can canter or ride through a Prix St George, as long as they have the right mindset! There is of course another side to this, and that is the Rider being the right fit for the coach!! It’s important to remember that as much as Coach’s love their job, it is exactly that, A JOB! It’s the way we make our living. So when we have clients that really don’t fit well with us, it can make our job quite hard. Now, don’t take that personally, we can all like people that we wouldn’t want to work with, and that’s no different for us! It also comes down to commitment, I personally like to commit to all my riders and really get to know them because that allows me to do my job to the best of my ability. I don’t just coach the technical side, I also coach the mindset and mental side, as well as fitness, biomechanics etc. However, it can be really frustrating when you are putting lots of thought into sessions, and noting down ideas in your “down” time to help a a client, and yet they continually cancel sessions, or ask to change sessions as they would like to do something else on that day now, and then call in tears when there has been a “bad” day. Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not in any way saying that riders I work with have to train only with me, in fact far from it, it can be great to get some other perspectives, but I do think it is important, for progress to be made, for there to be a regular coach, and that’s as much for the horse as well as the ride. Coach’s will all do things slightly differently, and if you are constantly telling the horse something different, it doesn’t understand what’s expected of it. I like to think of the Coach - Rider relationship as a two way street, we have to work well together to get the best results.
What did I learn from my coaching reflection from camp, well that I am going to try and have a chat on the phone with any new perspective clients, so I can make sure I am what they are looking for, and that we would work well together. I’m so lucky with my coach, he really is the perfect fit for me, that doesn't mean I don’t ride at clinics and it doesn’t mean that I don’t have another trainer, but my regular coach is where my foundations are and where I make most of my progress. I try to model myself on some of my coach’s traits, such as letting riders have a go at something and letting them make a mistake. Asking them if they know how to fix it and discussing what they could do. Being ready to step in with the technical as soon as it’s needed, but being prepared for them to have a go. Listening, and I mean really listening, to any issues they have and trying to fond the best course of action for them. And trying to keep their mindset in the right place, nothing is really insurmountable, so lets work round it, through it, over it, but we’ll get there. There will always be great sessions and there will be sessions that you’d rather forget, but that go for any athlete in any sport and is all part of the process. Just remember, finding the right Coach is about getting the best from you for you.