Why It’s Important For Coaches To Recognize And Let Go of Personal Bias

We all process information through the filters of our personal experiences and beliefs.

Taken to the extreme, these biases can narrow our focus to the point that we only pay attention to information that confirms what we already think is true, while ignoring anything that might challenge those ideas and practices.

Where this goes wrong:

Rookie coaches tend to focus on a single methodology of coaching. (I know I did.) One coach might be interested in athletic performance, so he trains all his clients like competitive athletes. Another might subscribe to the Keto diet, so she coaches others to do the same.

Years ago I had one client, Sarah, who approached me with a straightforward weight-loss goal. She was young and healthy, so I put her on a similar program I’d used successfully for a lot of my clients: circuits and superset-style workouts to elevate her heart rate. Plenty of research backs up this type of training, and I knew from experience that it works.

But a few months later Sarah was diagnosed with a benign condition called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). Symptoms include a rapid increase in heart rate upon standing. Sarah’s heart would race when switching rapidly between moves, and it caused her a lot of anxiety.

Recognizing this, we switched to a program emphasizing heavier lifts with low reps and more rest between sets. The extra recovery time between movements helped her feel more in control.

I’d only used this type of training for clients with serious strength goals. I never would’ve considered it for a fat-loss client. But it was the right choice for Sarah, helping her build confidence while adjusting to the new reality of her diagnosis. It only worked because I was open to trying something new.

A good coach learns to recognize her own bias and consider other lines of thought. Instead of becoming comfortable with the status quo, she learns to challenge it. This is how coaches develop their expertise.

Join our online community for the best health and fitness tips on the internet.