Distance Learning

By Hilary Achauer

In Coaching

March 29, 2013

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Hilary Achauer explores the advantages and disadvantages of remote coaching in a sport built on community and personal interaction.

Traditionally, coaching involves a great deal of immediate interaction between trainer and athlete.

An athlete bangs out five thrusters before stumbling forward on the sixth. Frustrated, she drops the bar, and her coach is talking to her before it stops bouncing. The trainer tells the athlete to get the weight back on the heels and pull the chest up tall to keep the bar over the base of support. The athlete nods, refocuses and works to make the corrections that will result in better movement and more powerful reps.

It’s a feedback loop designed to maximize training time by eliminating errors immediately so the athlete can move forward on every attempt, and it’s no doubt been the norm since the first coach paired up with the first athlete.

The Internet has changed the way some coaches operate, and some have success by fostering online relationships based on video and email. But other athletes and coaches prefer the traditional method, where the athlete moves and the trainer makes immediate corrections.

Overall, the web might offer new opportunities for coaches and athletes, but it remains to be seen whether it can ever replace a coach who can spot and correct a muted hip from across the gym.

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