Proactive coaching is about identifying and resolving your client’s issues before they become problems.
Let’s look at two versions of a common online training scenario to highlight the difference between a reactive and proactive coach:
Example #1: John is ready to dive into his online training. He’s performing a lunge variation, but something doesn’t feel right in his knee with a new exercise his coach has programmed for him. He’s watched the exercise video multiple times but can’t seem to pinpoint what he’s doing wrong. He sends his coach a recording of him performing the exercise, but now he has to wait until the coach’s working hours to receive a response. John still got a good workout in, but felt frustrated about completing 3 sets of an exercise he knew didn’t feel right. Later that day, his coach was able to give him feedback.
Example #2. John is ready to dive into his online training. Rather than giving him a cut and dry program with only exercises, reps, and sets, his coach bulleted technique highlights for him to focus on in his exercise notes on TrueCoach. In addition to the bulleted highlights, his coach also informed him on where he should be feeling the exercise. Lastly, his coach also pointed out common errors underneath the technique highlights for John to refer to if he felt the exercise was not being performed correctly. His coach reassured him in a check-in video before John’s new program that if an exercise were to feel weird, refer back to the common errors list or take note of this so John’s coach can reevaluate if this exercise is right for him. Because John’s coach reassured him not all great exercises are great for all people, he felt prepared, open minded, and eager to get started with his training!
It’s evident that as coaches, we want all our clients to feel like John in example #2. A confident, supported, and empowered client is a happy client.
There are many benefits to having a client like John be satisfied with his training experience. To name a few, happier clients yield higher retention rates, decrease the amount of on-the-fly changes you’ll have to make to a program, and increase the chances your client will refer you to his/her friends, family, coworkers, etc!
Here are some surefire ways to get ahead of any issues your online client may face:
Ask clients for genuine feedback
Sometimes we don’t always get it perfect as coaches with a client who is just starting out with us. We’re still getting to know their training preferences and building a coach-client relationship. This is why it’s important to collect as much feedback as possible during and after the initial program. A simple way to generate direct feedback from your online client is to send out a survey. Focus on the details here. Make sure you’re not sending your client a 40-page survey with surface level questions. Rather, choose 1-5 questions you feel they can answer with greater detail, and capitalize on those responses.
For example, rather than asking “How did the program go this month?”, ask, “What were three exercises you felt were most beneficial? Alternatively, what three exercises did not feel beneficial/you’re confused about?”
Asking for specific and detailed feedback, good or bad, will help better determine what adjustments need to be made to your client’s online experience.
Create content that answers common questions
What are the expectations of your client coming into your service? At TD Athletes Edge, we have our own language within our programming. Therefore, it’s important to us to provide our clients with a dictionary of common terminology to understand the intention within each exercise.
As an example, when we program “ecc” along with an exercise, we explain to our clients this refers to the “eccentric” or “lowering” portion of the exercise. That way, they understand that every time they see “ecc” within an exercise name, they know how and when it is performed.
Create a short and sweet document with key terms for your clients. You can save this document in their client profile on TrueCoach for them to refer back to at any time. Here’s a tutorial on how to do that:
Show your clients/athletes you’re fully invested
Some may not see going the extra mile necessary, but within my experience of building a client relationship, especially in a remote format, this is non-negotiable. A simple way to show your clients you are engaged in their fitness journey is to send them relevant information you’ve researched or came across that pertains to their goals. For instance, if I am working with an online client who sought out coaching to help resolve their low back pain, I would send them an article along with one of their standard check-ins about the benefits of strength training for cranky low back pain. Whether this article comes from your own blog or a credible source, your client will appreciate your attention to detail and thoughtfulness specific to them.