>Over the preceding four articles, we have developed an overview of the different coaching models, learned what types of questions to ask of a prospective coach, discussed how to make the coaching relationship work, and detailed out what one could expect from their coach.
In the next two posts, we’ll wrap up our review of the “Relationship Model” of triathlon coaching by investigating what hiring a coach typically costs and then outlining a few actions that one should never take once they have hired a coach.
The TriMadness Coaching series will shift next week from the “Relationship Model” towards the “Self-Coached Model”, which for the sake of ease of both writing and reading, we’ll combine with the “Off-the-Shelf Model”.
Contracts & Minimums
Let’s face it; coaches need to earn a living. Part of earning a living means that they should have some reasonable assurances that they will be able to earn a steady income. While all of the coaches I interviewed have multiple “clients”, the natural ebb and flow of athletes could cause for some financial uncertainties. (Funny aside: As part of my interviews, I was called out by Elizabeth Waterstraat for my use of the word “clients”. She said, “Lawyers and hookers have clients, coaches have athletes.” TOTALLY cracked me up.)
Some coaches, but certainly not all, will try to alleviate any potential uncertainties by asking athletes to commit to a certain number of months of coaching up front. In fact, some coaches will go a step further and ask an athlete to actually pay for multiple months in advance. This approach is rarer than merely asking for a minimum commitment. Other coaches will ask athletes to sign a formal coaching contract stipulating a certain timeframe. Many coaches, however, will agree to be retained upon nothing more than a gentleman’s handshake and verbal commitment.
Whereas a contract does indicate a certain level of commitment, many coaches do not want the formality of having an athlete sign on a dotted line. One reason may be that if the coaching relationship doesn’t work out, having to void or exit a contract can be time consuming, angst ridden and painful in general.
If your prospective coach asks you to sign a contract, I’d urge you to read the contract carefully. Make certain that important aspects are specifically called out: minimum months, advance costs, exit process, refund policy, etc.
Relationship coaching is not cheap. In all honesty, the cost alone is a fairly big detractor for lots of athletes. Coaches will tell you that as an athlete you’ve already invested significantly in triathlon (both in terms of dollar outlay for a bike, wetsuit, race fees, etc) but also in terms of time and emotional investment. One big selling point, according to coaches, is that a coach will help you more fully enjoy the triathlon experience, arrive to a race more fully trained and peaking, and less prone to injury. They will tell you that anything you spend for their services will only add to your enjoyment.
Be that as it may, if you hire a coach prepare to write a big check every month. How big? Well, frankly that depends.
Before I actually get into some numbers, I want to specifically state that while each of the folks I interviewed shared with me their pricing schemes, I have chosen not to actually share their costs. I’m not sure that sharing any particular coaches’ pricing would add to the series, and in fact, might border on de facto advertising – which is not a goal of this series.
OK. So what will it cost you to hire a coach? Based upon my research, you’ll spend somewhere between $150 and $600 or so a month. While that seems like a huge spread, keep in mind that the vast majority of coaches will cost you on the lower end of that spectrum. In reality, most local and regional coaches will run you $250 or less each month. Coaches on the upper end of that spectrum provide executive-oriented, pure concierge-level coaching, and typically are among the more famous former triathletes or coaches.
One other thing to consider: monthly coaching fees typically don’t include all diagnostic testing. While some coaches may include VO2 testing, swim analysis, and gait analysis as part of their normal packages, many will not. In fact, some coaches will simply refer you to others for the actual diagnostic testing; they will later review the results (much akin to how a radiologist reads an x-ray taken by someone else).
With regard to expenses, my recommendation is that you ask tons of questions and get all costs up front. If you feel its important, have the coach provide you with an itemized listing of their costs and services, especially if they provide multiple “levels” of coaching.