Coach Tip Tuesday: Some Math Doesn't Compute

Posted On:
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Updated On:
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
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It’s the third day of the week, also known as Coach Tip Tuesday!!

When I was in school, I learned a few things about math.  I learned that 2 + 2 = 4.  I also learned that 3 + 1 = 4.  Most importantly, I learned that 3 + 2 does NOT equal 4.

Why the heck am I, the Queen of Hating All the Maths, talking about math here in a Coach Tip Tuesday post??  Because I really want to talk to you all about how some math doesn’t compute.

There are a lot of different coaching philosophies out there, and they go along with the many, many coaches that are out there.  While every coach is different and brings his or her unique perspective to coaching, there are some foundational principles that should be woven into the fabric of every coach’s method.  For instance:  

An athlete-centered mindset will never steer a coach wrong, for he or she will always be acting with the athlete’s best interests at heart.  A good coach always thinks of the athlete first, and themselves second.

Honesty and integrity go a long way in coaching, for these two things will allow coaches to help athletes in the best way possible.  Sometimes this means telling the athlete something that the athlete doesn’t want to hear (i.e. that it might take several seasons to reach a long-range/big goal).  At other times, it might mean telling the athlete that it is time to part ways and move on so that the athlete can continue to grow and reach his or her potential.  Sometimes it means acknowledging that you don’t have the answer, and making a referral to another professional (such as a nutritionist or Physical Therapist).

There are some methods out there that some coaches employ that are wrong.  While this may come across as a pretty harsh and firm statement, it’s true.  Coaches who don’t believe in scheduling rest days for athletes when they are fatigued, who don’t heed the medical advice of their athletes’ doctors, and who disregard the athletes’ input into their own training plans should be treated with extreme caution.  Coaches who don’t focus on certain disciplines with athletes who need work in certain areas (such as swimming) simply because they themselves aren’t personally proficient at it are wrong to let their personal limiters become the limiters of their athletes.  Sometimes the math doesn’t add up, plain and simple. 

So yes, there are a lot of different ideas out there in the endurance sports world.  There are many, many different schools of thought (the most basic example of this is the sheer number and variety of coaching certifications that exist out there).  So just like different combinations of numbers can reach the same sum, so too can different methods of coaching help athletes reach end goals.  But it’s important to share that not every idea is a great idea, and some methods are just plain dangerous for the athlete, which means that the math is wrong.

If you decide that working with a coach might be the right path for you, you should interview several coaches.  This will allow you to gain insight into the coach’s philosophy and whether it’s one that will align with your goals and with how you work as an athlete.  More importantly, at a very fundamental level, you can decide which coach is the right personality to work with yours.  At the end of the day, we’re all humans, and at a basic level, we need to connect with each other in order to be able to work with each other.  The coach-athlete relationship is just that: a relationship.  It’s important that it’s one that works for both parties, but especially for the athlete.  The coach works for the athlete, not the other way around.

If you ever want to talk about coaching philosophies, or about what best practices might work best for YOU, you all know where to find me. :)


Coach Laura Henry

Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.

She can be reached at

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