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What Makes a Great Coach?

November 20, 2015

What Makes a Great Coach?

“The most important take away is to find a coach that you know will be your partner, your teammate and will work with you 100% toward your personal goal.”

by Alison Powers, ALP Cycles Coaching

It’s that time of year when many people start to think about 2016 and their cycling and performance goals. Having a great coach in your corner leads you, teaches you, helps you, and makes sure you achieve those goals.

A good coach and a great coach; there is a difference.

Here at ALP Cycles Coaching, we believe we know what a great coach is, but to be sure, we put the question to social media. What makes a great coach? The answers varied and included things like: understanding, common sense, and the ability to explain a plan. The ability to listen and a partner in success. Personality, versatility, and phone calls. Someone you trust. Someone who has the ability to balance goals, personal life, vacations, recovery periods, and work travel. Racing experience. Ability to motivate and encourage. Enthusiasm. Genuine concern for athlete and their progress. Constructive feedback. Helping an athlete recognize their strengths and weaknesses.

With this social media feedback and our own experiences as coaches and as athletes being coached, it would seem that a great coach is a partner and a teammate. A great coach is on your side with your goals in mind showing and teaching you the way to achieve your goals – through thick and thin, through good times and bad.

Alp cycles coaching, bike coach

We put the question to our ALP coaches. A great coach is someone who is organized, has passion for the sport and it’s athletes and competitors. A great coach has a true desire to help people reach their goals. A great coach is someone who is always learning and striving to be their best by sharing their knowledge and wisdom with their athletes. Someone who is always there for an athlete, no matter if everything goes as planned or if things are a bit difficult. A great coach is always keeping up what her/his athletes are doing and the athlete is never without a plan or communication. A great coach learns from their mistakes and turns failures into successes by practicing what they preach to their athletes. A great coach provides a high level of accountability and is truly invested in their athletes both on and off the bike. A great coach is part physiologist. A great coach is a true teacher of the sport.

When looking for a new coach, many people do not know what to expect from a coach. Why is one coach $150 a month and another one is $300 a month? Other than a training plan to get me fitter and stronger, what else does a coach offer? This is where coaching and coaching services vary – big time. There is no set standard on what a cycling coach should provide. Some coaches provide an excellent training plan but do nothing to teach you how to race the last 5 laps of a criterium so you have the best chance at winning. Some coaches are so excited to help you reach your goals that they don’t take the time to listen to how you are feeling and responding to the training. Some coaches have big names and big business but send out their training plans 2 days late leaving you guessing. You must take it upon yourself to determine what you expect from your coach.

Alp Cycles Coaching, bike coach

So what makes a great coach? From the social media feedback and personal experience, for each person a great coach is something a little bit different. A great coach to one person may not be a great coach to another person. Each athlete is looking for something different in a partner and a teammate to reach their goals. The most important take away is to find a coach that you know will be your partner, your teammate and will work with you 100% toward your personal goals. 87% is not a great coach – 100% is a great coach.


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Alison Powers

Alison Powers only recently retired from cycling, finishing her final season on the UnitedHealthcare Women’s Team. Her career has spanned a wide array of wins, including the 2013 USA Cycling Professional Criterium National Championship where she won in memorable fashion by soloing after an early breakaway that obliterated the pro women’s peloton. Other standout results during the 33-year-old’s 2013 season include the win at Redlands Bicycle Classic, second at the Tour of Elk Grove, third at the US National Road Championship and the US National Time Trial Championship, and stage wins at Cascade Classic, Tulsa Tough, Tour of the Gila and Redlands Bicycle Classic. Hailing from Fraser, Colorado, Powers has been racing bikes professionally for eight years and is a true athlete with her career beginning as a teenager in mountain bike racing. In her mid 20s, she added in alpine ski racing before switching over to the road. In addition to being the current Criterium National Champion, Powers has two other national championships (Time Trial, Team Pursuit) and 2 NRC titles (2009, 2013).

About ALP Cycles Coaching

ALP Cycles Coaching is located in the mountains of Colorado, and is a cycling coaching company with over 25 years of professional sports experience. ALP Cycles Coaching is unique in that we have 4 coaches, Alison Powers, Jennifer Triplett, and Patricia Schwager who each brings her own coaching strengths and personal experiences. We work together to create a training plan that works for each and every person. Visit them online at

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