Your Coach doesn’t have all the answers

Your Coach doesn’t have all the answers

I know it’s hard to believe right? But your coach doesn’t have all the answers. When you have a good coach and they’ve made a positive impact on your training it’s easy to start thinking they might have the answers to other problems.

If you’re a coach reading this I bet, like me, you’ve been asked for everything from injury advice to relationship counseling and everything in between. Believe it or not coaches don’t know everything, in fact they probably don’t even know that much about what they do know (confused yet?)

I speak from experience here, and not to insult any great coaches out there. When you set out to learn something it seems insurmountable but gradually you start to acquire new knowledge, remember things and formulate your ideas – however, this is probably the only point where you start to think you know stuff. As you continue to learn, you realise just how big the field you’re in (fitness for example) really is.

Now most smart coaches at this point specialize, maybe they become a bodybuilding specialist, or a powerlifting expert or an endurance coach. Of course there are always the PT/Masseuse/Nutrition Coach/Life Coach/Class Instructor/Swimming Coach/Martial Arts Expert crowd who profess to be an expert in all areas – maybe they’re just all super smart…or maybe not.

Anyway I digress, at this point you have a coach who has reasonable to good knowledge in a specific area, lets say muscle building.  Now if you’re a client you may decide to ask a question on how you can improve your 100m swimming time – your coach may have some general idea, but there’s a good chance they may not know, so don’t be surprised. Even though they’re in the fitness field they won’t have all of the answers.

In fact, as crazy as it sounds, – Your Running coach may not know how to improve your Deadlift PR. Your Boxing Coach may not know what nutrition program you should be on. Your Olympic Lifting Coach may not know how to help your min per mile running speed.Would you ask an Orthopedic Surgeon to carry out Vascular Surgery? No? But they’re both Surgeons right.

So point 1 established your fitness coach may not have (in-depth) knowledge about other areas of fitness, and that’s okay.

How about seemingly ‘related’ topics?

The number one thing I get asked as a coach is ‘I’ve got a pain here – what is it?’

Hahahaha – I will go with 99% of the time I have no fucking idea.

Ok, sometimes our experience as a coach may lead us to theorise about what an issue may be, and potentially offer ‘work arounds’ but that’s about it. Check out these two examples.

Client A ‘My shoulder hurts when I do this exercise, what do you think is wrong with it?’

Trainer A ‘Looks like you may have shoulder impingement, maybe you’ve ‘tweaked’ your rotator cuff (the be all end all for shoulder injuries lol) lets try some rehab movements (I saw on Instagram)’

Trainer B ‘Afraid that’s outside of my remit. Lets leave the shoulder work for now and move onto something you can do. If it feels better later in the workout we can try again, if not I suggest talking to your GP’

I know its tough and sometimes as a coach you feel like you need to give all the answers but YOU DON’T. It’s ok to say I don’t know AND especially important if you actually don’t know.

As a PT, Fitness Coach or similar it is not your job to diagnose or indeed ‘treat’ any injuries either real or ‘suspected’ unless on the advice and guidance of a medical professional. It is very common in the gym arena to be asked by clients about physical aches and pains, I find the best course of action is to determine if its preventing them exercising, if it is they need to go to the Doctor, if its not, no problem keep exercising.

For the clients out there – a Doctor would struggle to diagnose without some kind of testing let alone years and years of study and knowledge so I’d suggest not asking medical advice from the person teaching you how to Deadlift. Equally I wouldn’t go to my GP to ask about hitting a Squat PR lol.

The third category of advice and my personal favourite (not) – general life advice.

‘Hey you haven’t steered me wrong with my Bench Press – fancy taking a stab at my divorce?’

In all seriousness its easy to look at someone who has helped you, spent time with you, listened to you and offered you good advice in one area of your life as a source of all information – but please don’t.

You may be friends with your coach, I’m friends with most of my clients (not you Jemma 😉 ) but remember you are paying this person for their time! They are paid to help you, listen to you and guide you – they may not be your friend and they certainly aren’t the fountain of knowledge for all of your problems.

This is a really tough one for coaches as, as a human being they want to empathise with you, but they likely don’t have all of the answers, no more than anyone else.


Do not give Guru Status to your coach, they really don’t want it (and if they do they probably don’t deserve it!) Once we like what we hear from someone, it’s easy for bias to come in and suddenly their word is the word of God when it comes to any and all matters.


Do not accept Guru status – even though it’s so appealing to the Ego. The be all and end all is you, the source of all good information and advice. Be brave enough to say ‘I don’t know. ‘I’m not sure’, ‘Not my field of expertise etc’

Coaches are generally good people; they’ve decided to work in a field where their job is to help other people (or post booty pics on Instagram). The fact that they like to help people will always mean that they want to give you advice and guidance just make sure you’re asking them the right questions.

Finally coaches out there just try to be really good at what you do, keep improving your knowledge, admit when you were wrong and update your beliefs (cough hip thrusts cough) don’t be afraid of not knowing all the answers and remember it’s not your job to solve all of the worlds problems – leave that to Iron man.

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