Although it's relatively easy to become a triathlon coach and start coaching right away it's a very complex job and takes a lot of knowledge, experience, and tools to get the absolute best results for your clients and to compete with the very best coaches. Whatever your goals for being a triathlon or endurance coach, a plan for continued education should be part of your long-term business strategy.
Much of what the great triathlon coaches have learned comes from on the job experience and in some circles, there is a tendency to dismiss the value of more structured and formal education. Whatever your approach to learning formal courses can take the guess work out of prioritizing what skills and techniques you need to spend your time developing.
Most formal courses will also offer some form of coaching certification which will always strengthen your authority as a professional coach, especially for customers who don't know you personally. Certifications are a great way to establish trust and authority and will always be of benefit to your business.
The courses outlined in the list below are just a few that you could consider. If you know of any other great triathlon coaching courses or certifications then please get in touch and we'd be happy to add them to the list.
There are typically two types of courses. The first is the courses and certifications run by the official governing bodies, the second is courses developed and run by commercial organizations.
ITU Coach Education Program
The ITU has a formal Coach Education Program that includes a structured tiered certification process that will lead to becoming an ITU certified coach. The ITU program currently has two initial levels of certification. ITU Level 1 Certified Coach and ITU Level 2 Certified Coach. The pathway then goes on to include the "Performance Development Triathlon Coach" and then on to "High-Performance Coaching" working in partnership with the National Federations.
The ITU has a number of key objectives for offering the coach education program.
Summarized from http://www.triathlon.org/development/coach/itu_coach_education_program for brevity.
- To grow and develop the sport globally by making coach education accessible to all National Federations (NF’s) (developing and emerging through to established NF's) - thereby providing athletes with the opportunity of working with coaches with the relevant education to suit their specific needs,
- Providing a framework for coach education and development for NF’s to develop triathlon in their country by developing athletes through competent and effective coaches from grassroots coaching to high-performance sport,
- Providing coaches with a coach development pathway for all different roles from grassroots coaching to high-performance coaching which gives them the possibility to develop their competence and effectiveness by international standards no matter of their professionalization status,
- To provide a mechanism by which coaches from all NFs can progress along the coaching pathway, should they so desire,
- Quality assurance by providing a common framework.
National Federation Coaching Education Programs
Most national federations also have their own certified triathlon coaching education programs. Here are some of the programs for the larger national federations. National Federation certifications typically come with a number of benefits like a certificate, listing on a coaching directly on their website, use of certification logo and branding, networking, discounted continued education and even insurance.
As you can see from the list of benefits a certification with your national federation is well worth the effort.
Ironman University and Ironman Certified Coach
Ironman is the corporation that runs the popular Ironman and 70.3 events around the world. They have a segment of their business and a website dedicated to providing training and certifications for coaches called Ironman U.
Ironman offers various interactive courses on their courses page. The course is not classroom based and is mostly completed online.
Their Ironman Certified Coach program covers the following areas. They even have a business module which should be part of any certification in my opinion.
- Ironman History and Coaching Philosophy
- Principles of Exercise Science
- The Science of Swimming
- The Science of Cycling
- The Science of Running
- Sports Nutrition
- Strength and Conditioning
- Developing Training Plans
- The Art of Coaching
- Event Preparation and Execution
- Coaching Business
They do also have a series of interactive courses for athletes including "Principles of Ironman Training", "Sports Nutrition for Athletes" and "Freestyle Analysis".
TrainingPeaks Certified Coach
TrainingPeaks the popular online coaching platform offer their own certifications. The certifications are partly based on the use of their software and partly based on coaching skills. To qualify you also need first be certified in your sport of choice. For more details, you can visit the TrainingPeaks Certified Coach requirements on their website.
TrainingPeaks also offer a range of courses through their TrainingPeaks University programs
Bike Fitting Courses
A good bike fit is crucial to any athletes comfort and performance in a triathlon and even helps reduce the risk of injury. Being able to offer a professional bike fitting service will add an additional revenue stream to your coaching business but also add to the value you can add to your coaching services.
There are a bunch of providers who offer bike fitting courses. Some of these are provided by the creators of bike fitting systems but any good course will cover the essentials of bike fitting that is not system specific. As a triathlon coach, it's important to recognize the specific needs of a triathletes bike fit which are different to the needs of a cyclist.
All professionals should prioritize ongoing learning and education. As the profession of a triathlon coach becomes more and more popular education and certifications along with other strategies will keep you competitive with other coaches and also help your athletes and clients achieve better performance and fitness. If you coach triathlon then you should ensure you keep on top of your education as there are always new things to learn and new skills to develop.
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