Seeking out coaching help online


I am really interested in the whole question of learning a sport via online education. It can work well, if sufficient feedback is provided. Some companies favour video assessments, others online chat, or a simple discussion forum.

I have been dipping into an online discussion forum hosted by a Kettlebell coach. The forum members have each paid  a monthly fee for this information, and the coach styles himself as an expert – however, there is no information supplied as to his credentials. We have to take them on trust. I am not sure the site is popular: on each occasion I have visited it, the site cheerily informs me I am the only member online.

So, what do the members get when they sign up to this programme? A question posted on Mon 12 November has disappointingly still not received the attentions of the coach. It’s a shame because it’s a good question. The member is asking for advice as he wants to compete in 3 months’ time 16kg long cycle, but finding it challenging, may switch to 16kg snatch. The member is also asking for a 3 month training plan. With a competition just 3 months away, waiting 9 days for a response makes a big difference. I hope that when the response is posted, there’s an apology for the delay, and some sensible advice.

Another question in the forum has in fact been posted by the coach himself. He asks why we should do our competition exercises after our assistance drills. His reply is that he wants the athlete to have pre-exhausted his muscles, so that he is learning to lift when tired. This coach strongly favours assistance drills, and his website is heavily weighted towards these. My concern with this argument is that the athlete doesn’t get much guidance about how long to spend on all the assistance drills on the website, and how long on competition exercises. If you are going to direct your athletes to train in both, then understanding a ratio is very important.

Generally, this online presence feels rather abandoned, forgotten. The most recent blog dates from July 2012, and the coach’s own last contribution to his discussion forum was in August. There are several comments which have received no response, dating from July and October 2012. I come away from this membership dissatisfied.

Fortunately for my own learning experience, I am in the enviable position of getting training support from Valery Fedorenko, and this is very different from the limitations of the subscription website described above. We speak on Skype and discuss the training plan for the next week. I get the benefit of the advice of a true expert, former world champion, and chief advisor to World Kettlebell Club. I submit my sets on video and know I will get frank feedback, specific to my performance, so that I can focus on the coaching points, and progress. The encouragement to move up in the weights is just what I need, having lost confidence in my lifting capacity recently. It’s always going to be easier to put your trust in a name, someone with ranking and experience. Sometimes it’s tough to listen to any opinion other than your own, after years of working independently, but this is professional expertise, to be valued.  I get further support via the WKC videos available to all via YouTube, and via email. Two way communication, and professional coaching. It feels like a much better arrangement all round.




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