Your soft skills enable you to interact effectively with other people. As a coach, it’s your ability to help your clients and the glue that holds everything together.
Hard Skill vs. Soft Skills
Hard Skills: Program design, biomechanics, anatomy, assessment, exercise technique.
Soft Skills: The ability to relay that information in a way that is understandable, applicable, and conducive to your clients’ success.
The hard skills of coaching are extremely important. But the average coach’s textbook knowledge and interpersonal (soft) skills often show an inverse correlation.
You have the anatomy-know-it-all who bores their clients to death with information they don’t even care about (let alone understand). On the other hand, you have the cheerleader-trainer who’s better at reciting motivational one-liners than actually coaching.
The best trainers blend their technical know-how with a healthy dose of encouragement and support. They know their shit and they understand how to communicate it to their clients. This is essential if you’re looking to:
- Help your clients get better results
- Build a thriving coaching practice
There’s a plethora of information out there to brush up on your anatomy and biomechanics (both of which are obviously important). However, resources on soft skill development are few and far between, at least within the realms of the fitness industry.
Here are five key soft skills you should have as a coach and how you can practice getting better at them right now.
5 SOFT SKILLS EVERY COACH SHOULD HAVE
- Be a CNP. As Mike Boyle puts it, the CNP,certified nice person, is the best certification you can have. No one wants to train with an asshole. All the best, and busiest coaches are nice to be around. They smile, offer genuine support, and actually care about their clients. As the saying goes, “no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” It’s interesting how something so simple can make such a drastic impact.
- Be a good listener. Rather than just waiting for your turn to harp in, ask the right questions and actually listen to your clients. Remember that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason…
- Be early and ready to go. If you train clients in-person (or even virtually), arrive early to review the workout, put on some good tunes, and get the equipment ready for their session. Create a motivating environment for your clients to walk into. When you do, you’re already one step closer to an awesome workout. Conversely, if you’re late you’ll be playing catch up. Bring the motivation to your clients, don’t make them wait for it. if they’re having a rough day or seem to be dragging their feet through the workout…
- Be empathetic. Most of the people you train have a laundry list of other things pulling their attention outside of the gym. Kids, career, marriage, tough bosses. Here’s what you should consider in this regard:
The gym is probably not as important to your client as it is to you.
You never know what someone’s going through.
So if your client missed a workout or veered off their diet over the weekend, relax. Don’t make them feel bad about it. Help them understand it’s a normal part of the process and show them how to get back on track.
- Make their session the best part of their day. People like bragging about stuff. Do this consistently with everyone you train and make them brag about you. You’ll never have to go looking for business because they’ll bring it to you.
Don’t be the book-worm coach who memorizes long anatomy words but can’t break it down into digestible tidbits for your clients. That said, don’t be the mindless-motivator-coach who lacks any understanding of programming and doesn’t know how to coach a proper deadlift.
At the end of the day, it takes two to tango. You need technical knowledge to design results-driven programs while being an effective communicator and supporter. Depending on who you’re working with, you can lean further into either direction based on your clients’ individual needs and goals.
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