Coach Hughes: Selecting a Cycling Coach
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Intelligent Cycling Training

Points to Discuss with a Potential Cycling Coach
by Jake (Terry) Zmrhal

When you contact a coach, you should ask the coach questions about his or her services as well as have the coach ask questions of you: your goals, strengths and weaknesses, style, etc. You are not obligated to work with any particular coach and probably should contact several. Both you and your coach need to agree to work together. If the coach doesn’t think you are a good fit for his or her style he should say so.

Sample Letter
This sample letter to send to coaches, could be turned into an e-mail or phone call as well.

Dear Coach,

I am an ultra-marathon cyclist searching for a coach for the 2004 season with the intention of beginning the training cycle sometime near the end of this year. My major goal(s) for 20XX is [include your goals].

I’d like to talk with you to determine if you, as a coach, and I, as an athlete, would mesh together.

To achieve the best results the process of matching coach and athlete should be two-way. In addition to you interviewing me, I would like to pose queries to you as a coach before we decide whether we can work together.

Either you or the coaching system you are affiliated with has caught my attention. I have some information about you via web sites, books, or reading about your accomplishments. I would appreciate it if you would consider the questions on the following page and then contact me at PHONE NUMBER. From that point we can arrange further conversions.

Here is a brief summary of my experience as an ultra marathon cyclist. [Include your experience.] I’m sure you will have additional questions of me. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Further Questions
Here are some further possible questions to ask the coach either in writing or on the phone:

  • What’s your personal coaching philosophy (either in addition to the training system or school you work with or your own personal philosophy)?
  • Please describe your experience as a cyclist and explain how you would apply this experience to coaching an ultra-marathon cyclist.
  • How do you feel about coaching someone whose primary goal is finishing versus any time-based targets?
  • What are your strengths as a coach?
  • What are the most important characteristics of the athletes you coach?
  • What’s your philosophy on stretching? Do you stretch?
  • What’s your philosophy on strength training? Do you use weights?
  • What’s your philosophy on cross-training? Do you cross-train?
  • Have you coached ultra-marathon cyclists before?
  • Why do you think you can coach an ultra-marathon cyclist?
  • Have you participated in ultra-marathon cycling events yourself? How often and what kinds of events?
  • What are you currently training for?
  • What’s the primary form of communication? Phone? Fax? E-mail?
  • How open are you to feedback about the training plan?
  • I am interested in the “whys” of the training program? Are you willing to answer questions about methods and practices?

Originally published in UltraCycling. Reprinted with permission.