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Here Are Six Researched Reasons A Coach Helps You Reach Your Goals

Sometimes as a person and as an endurance athlete, you set a BHAG (big, hairy-assed goal).

You might decide to run a trail marathon or reach a certain age and decide you want to find out what you have as potential in cyclocross

You might want to beat your time in a gravel race or in a local sprint triathlon. 

Why does anyone need a coach, especially everyday endurance athletes?

Can’t you get an online training plan and just follow it? 

For some people, that’s all they need: follow a training plan and they’ll achieve their particular goal. 

But for most people, according to research studies, having a coach to help you with the process makes it more likely you’ll actually achieve goals. 

What matters is how committed you are to your goal.

If your goal matters, if you want to find out what you really can do in your sport, then coaching is going to help. 

Here are six ways coaching can help you, according to the research studies, which I list below:

according to research studies, having a coach to help you with the process makes it more likely you’ll actually achieve goals.

1. Accountability

Personalized coaching provides accountability, so clients have someone who holds them responsible for their actions and progress. 

This accountability helps keep individuals on track and motivated, which increases the chances of achieving their goals.

  • Regular check-ins: Coaches typically schedule regular check-in sessions with their clients to review their progress. These sessions act as a built-in accountability system, allowing clients to reflect on their achievements, discuss challenges, and make necessary adjustments, for example,  if you’re having a hard time finishing your HIIT workouts
  • Providing feedback and support: Coaches offer constructive feedback and encouragement throughout the coaching process. Celebrating wins and acknowledging efforts reinforces positive behavior and helps clients maintain their accountability.

2. Goal clarity and planning

A coach can help individuals gain clarity about their goals and create a detailed and actionable plan to achieve them. 

Through effective questioning and guidance, personalized coaching assists in setting realistic and meaningful goals.

  • Goal setting: Coaches often help clients set clear and specific goals. By breaking down larger objectives into smaller, manageable tasks, coaches help clients stay focused and motivated. You might set a goal of doing more Zone 2 endurance work, for example. 
  • Action planning: Once the goals are set, coaches work with clients to develop action plans. These plans outline the steps required to achieve each goal, making it easier for clients to track their progress and hold themselves accountable. For example, one goal might be to add yoga and strength training to your training program. How are you going to get that done? 
  • Prioritization: Coaches help clients prioritize their goals based on importance and urgency. By understanding the client's values and current circumstances, coaches aid clients in determining which goals should take precedence and create a plan accordingly. You might need more recovery time than you’re getting. A coach might set up the plan to prioritize more sleep. 

3. Individualized approach

Every person has unique strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. 

Personalized coaching takes these individual differences into account, creating a tailored approach to support the individual's specific needs. 

This customized approach maximizes the chances of success. 

  • Flexibility and adjustments: Coaches support clients in regularly reviewing and adjusting their goals and plans as needed. They help clients be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances or new insights, ensuring continued progress and success.
  • Skill development: A coach can identify areas where an individual needs improvement and provide guidance and resources to develop those skills. They can offer feedback, teach new strategies, and provide support in overcoming challenges. This focused skill development facilitates progress towards goals. One skill might be working on nutrition and meal-planning, for example. 

4. Motivation and confidence boost

Coaches provide ongoing support and encouragement, building individuals' motivation and self-confidence. 

Research has shown that individuals who receive personalized coaching are more likely to persist in their efforts, bounce back from setbacks, and maintain a positive mindset. 

  • Coaches help clients develop a growth mindset and cultivate motivation. By exploring underlying values and purpose, coaches inspire clients to stay committed to their goals and remain accountable. 
  • Coaches encourage clients to visualize their desired outcomes and tap into their intrinsic motivation. By helping clients connect emotionally with their goals, coaches foster a sense of purpose and determination.

5. Overcoming barriers

Personalized coaching helps individuals identify and address obstacles that may hinder their progress. 

Coaches can help individuals develop strategies to overcome these barriers and provide support during challenging times. 

  • Coaches encourage clients to engage in self-reflection to understand their patterns, strengths, and areas for growth. This introspection fosters self-awareness, which is crucial for figuring out different paths to overcome the barriers to success.
  • Coaches can have an outsiders’ perspective that allows them to understand different paths a client might take to overcome obstacles. 

6. Sustained behavior change

Research suggests that personalized coaching contributes to sustained behavior change. 

By working closely with a coach, individuals are more likely to develop new habits and integrate them into their daily lives, leading to long-term success. 

  • Creating accountability systems: Coaches can help clients design personalized accountability systems tailored to their preferences and needs. This might include strategies such as setting deadlines, establishing rewards or consequences, or finding an accountability partner.
  • Strategy development: Coaches assist clients in identifying the most effective strategies and approaches to change behaviors needed to reach their goals. This may involve brainstorming different options, evaluating pros and cons, and leveraging the client's strengths and resources.

Research suggests coaching can be effective

Here are some of the research studies, in case you want to dig into them a little. 

  • This 2003 study found that life coaching significantly increased participants' goal attainment, metacognitive awareness, and mental health outcomes.
  • This 2014 meta-analysis on the effects of coaching on individual level outcomes in an organization summarized findings from various studies and concluded that coaching has positive effects on several outcome variables, including job performance, well-being, coping skills, and goal attainment. coaching is, overall, an effective intervention in organizations
  • This 2015 meta-analysis focused on workplace coaching and found significant positive effects on various outcomes, including goal attainment, self-efficacy, job satisfaction, and skill development.
  • In this study, Coaching recruiter managers could translate into a return on investment of several thousand additional new recruits. In addition, coaching helped the managers with the achievement of personally relevant goals as well as the development of leader competencies, The study indicates real benefit associated with this form of goal‐based coaching.
  • This study found significant improvements in one or more health behaviors: nutrition, physical activity, weight management, or medication adherence. Common features of effective programs were goal setting (73%), motivational interviewing (27%), and collaboration with healthcare providers (20%).

The research on coaching for BHAG goals is clear

So the research is clear: If you have a BHAG, you are more likely to reach your goals if you have someone supporting you along the way. 

However, effective coaching is not inexpensive, and it’s an investment in your goals, if that’s what you really want. 

That’s part of the Accountability in that you have a financial stake in your success so therefore you’re more likely to stick with the program when times get tough. 

And coaching is not for everyone. 

Sometimes your goals aren’t BHAGs. You just want to improve but it’s not a big deal to you. 

Here are three things to consider about getting a coach:

  1. The research shows that you’re more likely to reach your particular goal with guidance from a coach. 
  2. Coaches help with motivation, accountability, and goal-setting among other skills. 
  3. Coaching can help with goals that are really important to you. 

Need more? 

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Paul Warloski is a:

  • USA Cycling Level 2 Coach
  • RRCA Running Coach
  • Training Peaks Level 2 Coach
  • RYT-200 Yoga Instructor
  • Certified Personal Trainer
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