What should I look for in a coach? How do I find a good one?

My goal is an occasional check up to help me with my form - price prevents regular sessions.

I'm considering finding one of the Starting Strength coaches - the ones certified by the authors of Starting Strength. What's been your experience with them?

  • Have they helped you significantly?
  • Besides knowing the material, are they able to coach? That is, teach and advise so you can do it too?
  • Where do they do it? If you're not a member of their gym, can they do it in their own facility?

Overall, has it been a worthwhile investment?

  • 1
    To clarify, do you mean coaches certified under Rip's Starting Strength banner, or a trainer who read the book and helps you with the program? May 30 '12 at 14:48
  • Sounds like you're asking more for a poll of people's personal experiences. I'd rewrite to ask what you should look for in a Starting Strength coach to make it more objective.
    – Matt Chan
    May 30 '12 at 20:29
  • @Dave Liepmann updated. May 30 '12 at 21:44
  • @Matt Chan updated as advised. May 30 '12 at 21:44

Finding a good coach is always a challenge. The meaning of a certification really depends on how consistent the coaches that have that certification are. I do know someone who failed the certification--and were told they know the material, but just couldn't coach someone else with it. That at least tells me the certification means something. The fact that you are looking for a Starting Strength certified coach means that they will be instructed how to do the exercises as written in the book.

However, I will say that every coach is different, and while a coach might be a good coach, they might not be the right coach for you. Here are some things to consider when evaluating a coach:

  • Is there a personality problem? If you grate under just hearing their voice, how open will you be to their instruction?
  • Do they overwhelm you with information? It's hard finding the balance with providing enough information to fix your current problems, without burying the student with everything they are doing wrong at once.
  • Can they do what you want to learn? Demonstration is the first step in effective instruction. The demonstration is so you can see how it needs to look, not so they can show off. But if they can't power clean, how are you going to learn how to power clean from them?

The first step in coach selection is the interview. Talk to them, about their training and coaching philosophies. You can learn a lot just from this exchange. If you need someone to yell at you cues while you squat, and you are talking to Mr. Rogers you might need a different coach. On the flip side, if you get easily intimidated, you don't want a drill sergeant.

If you are going session to session, then take it session by session. If the coach is still providing value to your training, keep going to the same coach. If not, find a different one.

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