Choosing a triathlon coach is daunting whether it is your first time or your fifth. Knowing what questions to ask is hard when you’re not even sure what you are looking for.

Use these questions as a guide not only for interviewing a coach, but also to ask yourself if you are considering self-coaching.

  1. Where can I read or hear about examples of your past coaching? Experienced coaches will have a ready list of past clients, write-ups on their own websites and often the athletes will write their own race reports that give credit to their coach.  Don’t get enamored by coaches of celebrity triathletes. There are only so many Chef Gordons, Apolo Anton Ohnos or Hines Wards to be coached.   There are hundreds of thousands of athletes you many have never heard of who have been coached by excellent age group coaches. 
  2. Who is your favorite triathlon coach and why? The answer can reveal a lot about the coach’s training style and philosophy. It’s probably that they aspire to coach in a similar way to the coaches that they admire. 
  3. What training technologies do you use and why?   There are so many new technologies out on the market today, and you can’t expect to be an expert in all of them.  Coaches, however, tend to either stick with their tried and true technologies or be early adopters of new gear and gadgets.   You’ll want to make sure that your personality matches your coach’s use of tools and gadgets. And if you’ve invested a lot of time and dollars into a power meter, for example, you’ll want to make sure your coach is comfortable and experienced using it for her clients as well. 
  4. How will you optimize my training for my goal race?   There are a handful of common methods to plan a season, and then dozens if not infinite ways to manipulate basic training ideas.   Some elements of optimization don’t change from person to person, such as the principals of frequency, intensity, specificity, progressive overload.  However, there are a number of ways those elements are combined and emphasized during the season is one thing that makes a certain coaching style unique. 
  5. What kind of experience do you have for my *unique situation*?   This can be any kind of unique situation.   A medical condition like diabetes or a history of a heart attack or pacemaker,  a cancer survivor or even current cancer treatment, recent or remote surgery, limb amputation, visual loss, hearing loss… the list goes on and on.   If you have a unique situation that you think may disqualify you from being a triathlete, think again. I guarantee there is a coach who has worked with someone like you before.  And if not, coaches are trained in how to modify training, bikes, swim workouts, etc to accommodate special people. Find out if your potential coach has experience or has connections to another coach who does. 


Getting comfortable interviewing a potential coach is vital for you to choose the right coach for you. You’ll receive 5 MORE questions to ask when interviewing a triathlon coach by downloading our 2-page infographic “10 Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Triathlon Coach” and have it immediately delivered to your email inbox.

Freestyle Swimmer Struggling to Breath

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