When I was a boy, I played little league baseball. The guy in charge “Coach” was the father of one of my team mates. He had played baseball in his youth and had season tickets to the local professional baseball team. He was a great guy, had good intentions, did his best to teach us the fundamentals of the game, but beyond that those were his only qualifications.
These type of coaches still live today. Some of them are very good at what they do, most not so much. If you are in a position where you want to hire a coach, look beyond the cool stop watch, and that certification that was achieved in a weekend seminar. Ask some important questions, and observe your candidates actions, with these basic thoughts in mind:
Does this person, understand the learning process and training principles, and can he communicate them to you effectively?
Does he prepare training programs to meet the needs of each individual athlete, or is everyone treated the same?
Has she recognized your abilities, and time constraints, and advised you on safety, to help you minimize your risk of injury?
Can they recognize the causes and symptoms of over-training?
Do they have a bag of drills and tricks to help athletes develop new skills?
Can they help you develop your separate energy systems, and direct you on your nutritional needs?
Do they have a grasp of evaluation tests that can help you monitor training progress and predict performance?
If you are getting negative feed back, from any of these questions, it may be time to look beyond your friends/friend who runs a blistering 5k, the guy with the weekend certification with good intentions, or the neighborhood Dad.