Once upon a time, when I was re-entering competition/participation triathlon after many years of little to no activeness post back injury, I really didn’t want people I knew/coached with to coach me and learn of my weaknesses. Writing my own programs meant I kept bludging so I subscribed to an online coach to keep me accountable. It worked for a little bit, but without visual contact, I’d liaise with my coach via training logs only and my motivation soon dropped off.
Although I am surrounded by many awesome coaches, I needed someone independent that I could hate when I needed to, cry to when life got tough and ignore when I was awesome or thought I knew better (that last bit never happened but I’ve seen it). Actually my team mate from Race for a Cure: Asia Challenge, Greg, posted this picture on my Facebook page yesterday:
I started thinking about the School of the Air that is used to teach children in remote locations in the outback of Australia. Then my brain flicked to the adverts for the National Broadband Network (NBN) which included highlights of people being treated for physical therapies live but remotely via video conferencing in their home/health providers office. I then thought of the term “Satellite Parent” and thought that we may be entering the age of “Satellite Coaching” which got me excited because I thought I’d coined a new phrase! Then I googled “Satellite Parent” and realised it is not quite what I pictured. I realised the search term I was looking for was “Remote Coaching” and I madly punched it into google scholar this morning only to discover…it’s not actually a new concept (even though it’s one I’d never given much thought to before). I’d never seen it in action, but it does exist.
Then my internet crashed because I had several billion pages open in my excitement of creating a ‘new concept’…pft. Still, it’s something I’m keen to explore now. There is a lot of raw talent in sport in regional Australia but getting Talent ID reps or selection panels to remote and regional areas is difficult and sport funding isn’t as big as people think. Wouldn’t it be exciting though if through Skype and other video capturing mediums, that like the NBN proposal of video conferencing remote health support, we could also coach and select people from remote locations? Imagine the juniors from the Alice Springs Tri Club or the Katherine Multisports Club being Talent ID’d and then coached and mentored by the NT Junior Development Program where they can hook in online to team development seminars? Or the NSW Junior Performance Squad who like most states are spread across huge distances being able to build rapport with the other members of the squad through team meetings online*? Or using platforms like slideshare to deliver training direct from the coach each day but available at a time that allows athletes to manage training around school and family commitments? Triathlon NSW already has a fantastic Regional Academy program but perhaps it can reach out further using the internet? I have a picture in my head I can’t shake of the huge timing screens above the swimming pools used in the Olympics and having the head of a coach on the screen, remote coaching the athletes heading up and down the pool.
As I wrote this post, it suddenly hit me…my coach is a semi-remote coach. Just now, I am on hiatus again from training (still not at the bottom of the exercise induced migraine saga), but before this latest delay, I found someone to coach me who, even though it’s not something I had thought to look for when seeking a coach, also challenges my scientific brain. Graeme at Fit2Tri is amazing, has supported me when I drop into a fit of tears over not being able to train, pushes me to get off my butt, warns me when things are going to be boring (don’t tell him but I haven’t found anything boring yet) while I rebuild, gives me plenty of advice on my food and balancing my training and life needs and best yet: Graeme gives me realistic pictures of the volume and time commitment in measurable terms for what I want to do.
Graeme’s time is split between Canberra and Adelaide (roughly 1210km/752miles – i.e. not close) but he is available pretty quickly if you need him via email within reason – by that I mean emailing him late at night or right before you want his advice on changing a session is not reasonable (he has a family that enjoys his time too and although he gets alerts on his phone to emails, expecting a coach on call is a big ask unless you’re paying them to be on 24/7 call). Having said that, there is no part-time coaching from him even though you might not see him face to face for a few weeks if he’s away racing etc. He’s also never been unable to organise a coffee time for a chat over programs/training etc and as soon as he is able to respond to you, he will. Our programs are online using Training Peaks and there are loads of articles and blog posts to read too – Graeme also recently wrote the February feature article for Triathlon Australia’s Coaching News about online coaching. No stealing my coach though! I need him for when I’m back upright again! J
*I’m not sure if Triathlon NSW do or don’t use online meetings for their junior development or performance squads – Awesome sauce though guys if you do!