Getting started as a coach

Discussion in 'Coach Talk' started by Dawsy, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. Dawsy Barefooters

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    I'm interested in getting into coaching barefoot running, but I haven't done any coaching before. I'd love to know how any coaches out there got started, and hear any tips that you might have for a newbie :)

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  2. Last Place Jason Super Moderator
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    This is the rough path I took including relevant experiences:

    • Was a high school teacher with experience coaching football, and wrestling, had some background in kinesiology and sport psychology (Since 1999)
    • Started barefoot running shortly after beginning running, started blogging about experiences (2005)
    • Began participating in Runners World forum, a group of us started working on a "How to start barefoot running" project (Spring 2009)
    • Around the same time, I held my first clinic and handed out a collection of blog posts as a "How-to" guide
    • RW project and clinic guide morphed into the first edition of "The Barefoot Running Book" (Dec. 2009)
    • Started individual coaching based on experiences and knowledge obtained from forum discussions and book writing process combined with prior teaching and coaching experiences (Jan. 2010)
    • Helped found BRS (Winter/Spring 2010)
    • Started working with Merrell as a barefoot ambassador, eventually became a consultant and their "barefoot coach" that helped develop educational materials (Nov. 2010)
    • Quit teaching job, started traveling around the country holding clinics (May 2011)
    • Began quest to learn everything I could about running form by engaging running store owners and employees, other coaches, people in the medical field, etc. (Aug. 2011)
    • Resurrected individual/online coaching career; taking on "BRS Cert" project (present)
    My tips:
    • Recognize that coaches are teachers, spend less time studying running-related stuff and more time studying what great teachers do to reach their students.
    • Learn everything you can for anyone and everyone. Great teachers are masters at stealing ideas from others.
    • Don't fall in love with one single idea or method. Keep an open mind, think of everything as a tool. Your job is to match the appropriate tool to each client.
    • Organize your coaching business in a way that will provide legal protection (LLC, Corporation... whatever)
    • Word of mouth is the best form of advertising you can use, and it's free.
    • Have a website dedicated to coaching, which includes your philosophy, policies, and fee structure.
    • Understand why your clients want to hire a coach. there are many reasons; ask before they hire you.
    • Not all coaches and clients will be a good personality fit. Don't be afraid to recommend another coach.
    • Read all those books I recommended in the other forum. Not all have to do with coaching or running, but will prove to be useful. Add "Rework" by the 37 Signals guys, "Linchpin" and "Tribes" by Seth Godin, and "The 4 Hour Work Week" by Tim Ferriss to that list.
    That's all I can think of off the top of my head. ;)

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  3. beedubya Barefooters
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    I've been doing some informal coaching mostly based on form and the transition to minimal (since many of my friends are not interested in the barefoot thing, yet)

    I am waaaaaayyyyy interested in this.

    My motivations are as follows:
    1. I get to geek out about running, form, shoes, etc.
    2. I get to pay it forward and help others discover that running can be fun.
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  4. Dawsy Barefooters

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    Is that it? ;)

    I've got a couple books on order from your other post, thanks for that. I've got a lot of work/reading ahead of me but I'm excited to get started! Thanks for all your help with this.

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  5. PaleoRunners Barefooters

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    i don't have as extensive a background at J.R. - his advice is like solid money. but i started out by attending many'a running clinic, Pose, Chi, etc... Then, after getting a crossfit coaching certification (including crossfit endurance) i got a part time job at a gym. the owner is flexible and awesome allowing me to hold running clinics out of the gym, some for extra fee.

    Teaching good form and economy is immediately rewarding, people adapt to sound advice quickly and watching them improve is a real point of pride!
  6. Jimmy Hart Barefooters

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    I've been coaching for nearly 16 years and I've worked with everyone from professional athletes to paraplegics in that time. I currently own a gait analysis clinic where I film runners and break down the video with them. Based on what we see in the video I can determine which muscles are out of balance, not firing properly or at all, and then make recommendations to fix those issues. My place also has a fitness center where I take the client to do the corrective exercises necessary to correct issues.

    How I became a coach:
    I was a high level prospect and ran professionally for a couple years.
    During that time I fought a terrible knee injury that had me spending a lot of time with top level doctors and coaches. (listened and learned)
    I also studied running like it was a dying art. I learned form, biomechanics,, and even how to analyze courses.
    I went to college and studied kinesiology, biomechanics, anatomy, and sports physiology (I never actually finished a degree because I couldn't make up my mind)
    I have six personal training certifications and two nutrition certs.
    I practiced techniques and theories on myself and then others. (I still do this)
    I worked with high schools as an assistant/volunteer (highly recommend this as a good way to get exposure and learn)
    I have volunteered at orthopedic offices (again I listened and learned)
    I read everything I can. I have subscriptions to Runners World, Running Times, all running websites, and I read books about running and runners.

    My Tips:
    Jason gave a great list so read it.
    Know that there really isn't a certification on the planet that will teach you how to be a coach.
    Understand that being a good coach takes time and lots of effort to learn.
    Not every client will be successful no matter how hard you and they try.
    If you're going to do it then do it right. This means being open to learning (you don't and won't ever know it all), treat it like a profession (hobby coaching is fine but make it clear that's what you are to clients), get educated (personal experience is great but without my studies I wouldn't be able to do as much or actually help people)
    I agree with Jason that you need to learn how to teach but I also think you need to spend as much time studying what you teach.
    Go to clinics that teach/focus on form (these are very available compared to when I started. Many shoe companies and running stores offer them)
    Find an adviser/advisers. I use a team of people for different things. I have dietitians, orthopedists, chiropractors, etc all in my circle that I can use/contact for advise and further treatment of clients.

    Everyone takes a different path to coaching unless you go to college get a teaching degree and get hired at a school. There is no right or wrong way to get into the business. There is however a right and wrong way to conduct the business. Never misrepresent yourself. If you don't have education or experience be open and honest about what you do have because misleading a client is unethical and gives the rest of us a bad image.

    I'm sure there's more and I am always open and available to helping other coaches. There's a lot of us who want to try and keep their secrets to themselves but I want more educated people out there so feel free to ask.

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  7. Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    The BRS was founded in November 2009, if you want to edit that, Jason. I believe you joined in shortly after that.

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  8. Last Place Jason Super Moderator
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    I was just guessing on the dates, TJ. :)

    All of Jimmy's advice is solid. I should note- while I generally frown on certifications, they are incredibly useful to learn the basics. The more knowledge you have of how the body works the better. I don't hold any certs, but did study sports medicine for awhile in college. A certification isn't required to get that knowledge, nor is a college degree. However, I'd highly recommend being familiar with the basics.

    The "having a team of advisers" advice is good, too. I have a circle of friends that have specific knowledge on a wide variety of topics relevant to coaching. I bombard them with questions on a regular basis. You'll never know everything there is to know about any given topic, but it's useful to know where you can access information.

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  9. Jimmy Hart Barefooters

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    I concur Jason. Certifications can be dangerous and misleading. Some people will use a cheap cert, they got for spending an hour online reading and taking a test, as a way to make you believe they know what they are doing. I have my certs in many different fields that include performance exercise, corrective exercise, mechanics of special populations (paraplegics, amputees, etc), general movement screening, and a few others but you get the idea. I use certifications to create a knowledge base that I can apply to what I already know and will someday learn. I've even taken a course on angles of lever action. I have literally spent time measuring the effects of joint placement through a range of motion and effects that has on muscle firing/recruitment. For instance if someone is doing a preacher curl on a selectorized machine the placement of the elbow is crucial to the effectiveness of the movement. One quarter inch off of the correct spot in either direction could cause a lack proper muscle engagement and then possibly injury.

    It's probably excessive but I can apply all of these learning's to anything I do with any client which is why I recommend getting them. When choosing a coach it's a good thing to ask where they got their education, what education/experience they have, and then give them a chance to put that into action with you. If they know what they are doing it will be very apparent and if they don't well that will usually speak for itself as well.

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  10. dutchie53 Barefooters
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    I have coached teams and singles in bowling at a national level and have been successfull in having my teams and singles win at that level. I have seen a lot of coaches at these events and different ways they bring their knowledge out. What works for me is leading them to self guided discoveries. We all have to be certified to coach at a national level here in Canada. This helps at a junior level so that most bolwers start with a consistent guidance. After that, everyone is a individual. I know bowling and running are different but the core knowledge in how we teach is the same. So, I agree with the fact that everyone that wants to coach has to have a good basic knowledge and be a people type person. Like Jason said, it is all how you present this knowledge. The only thing I can add to all this, that in Canada we have to have our "Respect in Sports" to be coaching at any level in any sport. There is also a shortage of coaches in any sports out here. So usually when my kids are in sports, be it soccer, bowling, softball, and baseball I wound up coaching as there otherwise would be no coaches. The basic knowledge in these sports got me to be able to teach them the skills, but the communication of the "teaching" was paramount at to whether they actuall "listen" to what was taught. So certification needed, I myself do not think so, but with that being said, how is one to know that everyone is on the same page when it comes to starting out runners?
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  11. NickW Guest

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    I need to come get some bowling pointers from you. :D
  12. Last Place Jason Super Moderator
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    "but with that being said, how is one to know that everyone is on the same page when it comes to starting out runners?"

    This is precisely why I'm against certifications. The people that hand out certs now believe they know the best method to use to teach new runners how to run. That's just stupid. First, we can't even determine what 'the right way to run" looks like. I think we're slowly getting there, but the answer is a long ways off. Second, they presume their methodology is the best and tend to apply it to everyone. Any decent teacher will have a wide variety of methods at their disposal, and be adept at matching the method to the learner.

    As of right now, most of us barefoot runners are probably on the same page regarding a lot of coaching issues, but that's evolving. Anyone that's been around here for a few years can see the evolution of thought. The role shoes play in running is one such area of dramatic change. If asked in 2009, I would never have predicted we'd think of shoes as we do today.

    The tricky part of the BRS cert goal is creating a program that has both breadth and depth. Since there's no consensus on how to run correctly, we have to be exposed to all the major theories, their methodology, and their underlying theory. The best way to acquire that knowledge is for the practitioners of any given method to share their experiences (like in a forum). ;)

    Unrelated- My wife and I coached our high school bowling team for one year. We were terrible. :)

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  13. NickW Guest

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    Remind me not to go bowling with you Jason, I am bad enough without getting more bad bowling advice. :D
  14. Last Place Jason Super Moderator
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    Apparently alcohol had a lot to do with our bowling prowess. Or at least our perception of prowess.

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  15. dutchie53 Barefooters
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    Seems to help in staying relaxed. Does not work well if one has to remain focused. :D
  16. dmitri rouwet Barefooters

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    Hi, I'm dmitri, Belgian in Bologna-Italy.
    I'm a recent BFer, getting pretty passionate about it all...
    The start of my "BF carreer"
    1. triathlon, first olympic distance, soon after half-IM distance
    2. started from scratch with running and cycling... and a complete swim rookie
    3. Searched for the" purest way" and got to the Pose Method as a start
    4. got injured... achilles tendon, fascitis and calmed down... realized that heel drop is necessary to unload those calves, but I have always been a convinced forefoot striker.
    5. Got to minimalist and soon BF running... (last winter!)... the classic introduction maybe: Barefoot Ken Bob, and Born to Run.
    6. Now, trying to be consistent. I got in the Barefoot Elite Team, but it didn't get launched as hoped for
    7. Goal: become a better runner with the most correct form
    8. Dream: ultras (BF or not), marathons and less suffering finish runs in half-IMs
    9. I'm experimenting a bit now, different shoes (minimalist, I got a "shoe-deal" with an italian brand, Lizard, and recently my first Newtons, to come... VFF, NB minimal, etc)
    10. Maybe I would like to convert the people with the strange looking faces here into laughing BF runners... Italians are pretty shocked seeing me running BF.

    Coaching? well yeah! But I'm convinced the 10,000 hours rule counts!! Only after 10,000 hours of doing the same thing you start to understand it, eventually become good at it... only after 10,000 hours I might become a coach, and I'm still way off this barrier... so, I just keep running. For now I'm only an amateur basketball coach... as I way passed the 10,000 hours playing basketball in my life... (though, thinking about becoming a player again, it's way too fun). ciaociao
  17. Anna T Chapter Presidents

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    There's only been a few posts on this subject, yet the diversity of what people have to offer is already astonishing. As Jason says, everybody has something unique that they can offer, whether they've been teaching for years or only just started.

    I think what makes a good teacher, whatever the subject, is someone who never loses their passion for learning more about it. I started teaching aerobics back in 1997 and then became a gym instructor/personal trainer. I then discovered Pilates and my thoughts about human movement became a lot deeper as, through my various Pilates certifications, I also met and worked with yoga teachers, teachers of Feldenkrais, Aston Patterning and many other systems. I also have a psychology degree and definitely incorporate a good deal of 'mindfulness' into my teaching. For example, if you strip everything else away, then maybe there is one way, physically, to run. But throw in a few injuries (which change how you mentally approach your movement and therefore your running) a bit of stress and a competitive nature and just telling someone to move their arms and legs in a certain way ain't gonna work.

    Certifications have their place. In the UK, you're not really allowed to teach without a 'recognized' qualification. Having the piece of paper doesn't necessarily mean you're good though - it depends a lot on the course itself and your approach to teaching. If you do a course and think, "great, now I know it all!" then you probably need to have a re-think. The human body and mind are so complex, I know I won't ever know even half of it all despite studying it and working with clients every day!

    Good things to remember are that you can always learn something new from each client, whether it's something they say or something you see in their movement. Discuss it with them - get lots of feedback. You can also learn lots for free - just go and sit somewhere that's busy and watch how people move. Watch how your friends move and you'll notice that aspects of their personality are reflected in their movement. A fantastic book along these lines is: "Dynamic alignment through imagery" by Eric Franklin. He has his own movement method and works particularly with dancers but his books are useful for anyone interested in movement.

    Think I'll stop there before I cause this site to crash with my long ramblings. I am with Jason though - I think a certification, by it's nature, is limiting. However, it can be a good starting point - my certs have given me the opportunity to go off and really learn properly through experience. I think this forum is a great idea though and Iwill spread the word about it.....happy running :)

    P.S. I also think if you're going to teach barefoot running, you should have some experience barefoot running. Running technique is obviously a big part of good running form, but when it comes to running barefoot there are so many extra 'bits' that you don't know about unless you've investigated it and felt those things for yourself, both mentally and physically. That's just my opinion......
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  18. Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    Watch how your friends move and you'll notice that aspects of their personality are reflected in their movement.

    This could be key, Anna. I've often wondered the same thing but never formalized it into words. :barefoot:

    So let's explore this... If they have bad form, does that mean they need to work on their personality? I would shudder to think we would now need psyche certifications too...but then dang it, now that I just said that, I realize Jason has that too! sigh. ;)

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  19. Anna T Chapter Presidents

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    Again, my degree means that I have shown I have the ability to string together coherent sentences, contribute something to a discussion about psychological theories, retain facts in my brain......but I've really learnt the most about people from working with people. You don't understand how people think from sitting in a library reading books. And really, you don't truly understand their movement from reading theory about biomechanics either (some people would probably disagree). I find it suits me to work more intuitively with clients - I tend to sense what they need rather than figuring it out using what the textbooks say.....

    Fundamentally, I don't think people can completely change their personality. It's waaaay too complicated to go down that road! However, they can learn to recognize certain traits that hinder their movement. I've worked with a lot of habitual 'worriers', for example, who get anxious if they don't have anything to worry about! This is something that can be worked on, just by starting with being aware that it's happening. So, anxious people will often hold tension in their shoulders and upper body generally, so if this is brought to their attention, they can begin to address it. Also, most therapists will say that you can tackle a problem from 'either end' too - so if someone holds tension in their mind, they will find regular massage (i.e. something physical) beneficial. And vice versa - maybe using relaxation/visualization to help reduce muscle tension, for example.

    Bottom line? It's a huge subject! This is why it's so difficult to pin down any set rules to develop a certification course. I often think that an apprenticeship scenario is most appropriate but not necessarily a viable option for the apprentice or the employer.......
  20. Jimmy Hart Barefooters

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    Anna you have a great point in the individuality of each person not being something you get from a book. I use my background in bio-mechanics to understand what the body is doing and then I apply that to each individual body because they are all so different. Everyone learns the same motion but neural pathways develop differently in each of us so we perform those motions differently. I.E. some people walk/run on their toes while others are very flat footed or some people use their hamstrings dominantly in walking/running while others power through the quads. The only way to know how to help all people is to know the basics of the movements, which comes from book work, and then apply it to each person's different motions, which comes from working with the people.

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