What is Performance Coaching?

A performance coach, for any sport, creates training programs designed to ensure an athlete or team reaches peak performance for a target event, ensuring the athlete is mentally and physically prepared, remains healthy and avoids injury. Some are responsible for other factors such as tactics and skills as well. They may also design the daily and weekly sessions. They usually monitor the athlete's response to their training and suggest changes to keep the athlete progressing and adequately rested.

What does a Cycling Performance Coach do?

Most private performance cycling coaches use an online platform, such as Training Peaks or Today's Plan, to share the plan with their clients. Here they can plan out their whole year, training blocks and weeks, and prescribe detailed workouts. The client sees a calendar with instructions for each day, such as resting, off the bike workouts, endurance rides and interval sessions on the bike. These platforms can be synced with the clients cycle computers, or Strava, so that the coach can see the data from their rides. There are usually periodical tests (the infamous FTP tests for example) to set benchmarks for tracking the rider's progress. These platforms allow the coach to analyse the results of each workout, follow the rider's ongoing physiological response to the training (e.g. if it's enough to trigger their muscles to get stronger) as well as track fatigue (is it too much and risking over training), and make changes to the plan accordingly.

Most coaches do not actually meet their clients face to face, working with cyclists across the world, and conduct their communication through the online platform, emails, telephone and video calls.

Is it all about the data?

 For me, it's definitely not all about the data! In sport science we talk about person centred coaching. The athlete's mental health and well being is also the responsibility of the coach. To purely focus on the data alone would risk emotional burnout and a loss of motivation. The coach needs to design the training strategy WITH their client, taking into account their likes, dislikes, lifestyle, work and family commitments.

I meet my client where they are in their journey. People come to me with varying levels of experience with structured training. Some are motivated by lots of data to track, for others it doesn't interest them at all. We are all unique! What's important is to identify what your motivations are, to understand your personality and what brings you joy, your strengths and weaknesses and use that knowledge to get you where you want to be.