There are two common denominators behind those who make a living as triathlon coaches. The first scenario is professional triathletes who take on coaching after their racing career. The second and more common story is athletes who seek to turn their passion for multisport into a fulfilling career.
In most cases, it’s the latter story that soon-to-be coaches resonate with the most. Becoming a triathlon coach can be an exciting and rewarding pursuit for those passionate about endurance sports – particularly swimming, biking, and running.
Whether it’s exploring coaching jobs with larger triathlon organizations or starting your own coaching business; there are several ways you can grow professionally by serving the triathlon community.
Whether your expertise is in Ironman or sprint triathlon distances, below, we outline the core fundamentals to help you turn a passion for triathlon into a thriving coaching career.
Becoming a certified triathlon coach is an essential first step in building your career. While there is no specific degree or credential, many different triathlon coaching certifications are available, ranging from USAT and ASAF to ITU and Ironman.
USAT is one of the most popular options for coaches based in the United States. This governing body enables coaches to progress their certification to Level I, Level II Short Course, Level II Long Course, and Level III Certification. Some of the most elite coaches will typically have at least a Level II certification.
Keep in mind that ITU certification offers an internationally recognized accreditation for those interested in more global opportunities. So while a USAT Level I or Level II will provide adequate qualifications in the United States, opportunities abroad may call for ITU certification.
While these qualifications guarantee a baseline level of knowledge, they don’t make one coach more skilled and competent than another. Much of what the best triathlon coaches learn comes from on-the-job experience and actively working with different types of athletes.
Triathlon coaching jobs come in many forms. The beauty of multisport training is that coaches can often carve a niche in one or two specific disciplines, such as swimming or cycling, but still provide triathlon coaching as a whole.
A good example is collegiate sports teams with assistant coaching jobs available in aiding with university swim and triathlon programs. Jobs like these would be best fulfilled by coaches with a swimming background and any swim-specific credentials or training.
In addition to schools and universities, health clubs are also organizations that often hire triathlon coaches. An example in this realm is larger fitness brands, gyms, and sports facilities that regularly recruit coaches to help with their client’s triathlon-specific training goals.
Some larger triathlon coaching businesses work as a team and often have several coaches on staff. The benefit of finding jobs with existing triathlon coaching organizations is that entry-level coaches can often learn a great deal from elite coaches leading the business. While these jobs are harder to find, drafting a powerful resume and cover letter can improve your chances by leaps and bounds.
According to Zip Recruiter, triathlon coaching jobs can range between $29K and $79K, which is a vast spectrum that varies based on experience. Many entrepreneurial types might scoff at the idea of pursuing a job as a triathlon coach and jump right into starting their own business.
Recruiting and working with your own athletes – whether beginners or high-caliber triathletes – can be a meaningful career path that brings a powerful sense of fulfillment and independence. But like any self-made business, becoming a triathlon coach comes with its fair share of challenges.
The reality of starting any business is that you need paying customers to succeed. In the case of coaching, not only must you have systems in place to acquire new athletes, but you must also maintain an ongoing relationship with them, whether locally or online.
For most coaches who are not former professionals or notable figures in the sport, marketing, networking, and building a reputation are critical components for starting a triathlon coaching business.
Whether it be your website, blog, Google listing, or Facebook page; becoming a successful triathlon coach in today’s digital age demands having a place where athletes can find and connect with you.
Not only can these web properties help generate traffic and steer new athletes in your direction, but they can serve as a platform for reviews, case studies, and testimonials – all things that dictate your online reputation.
One of the most powerful ways to attract new athletes and grow your triathlon coaching business is to improve your online visibility. That can be through Google search, Facebook, or blogs, and other online media outlets. There are also niche website directories and networks like BetterTriathlete that help connect athletes with coaches.
Another thing you can do to jump-start your online visibility is to build a Google My Business listing. Besides having a website, creating a listing on Google will help prospective athletes, especially local athletes; find you when searching for a coach.
Great triathlon coaches never stop learning about the sport – they stay on top of the latest studies, training techniques, and emerging multisport trends. In addition to relaying information and perspectives to their athletes, proactive coaches will produce and share content that speaks to what they’re passionate about.
Whether your embracing job opportunities or starting your own coaching business, it doesn’t matter what your professional pursuits entail. Becoming a successful triathlon coach means building your personal brand and establishing yourself as a thought leader in the sport.
Get creative with how you can share your perspective online. Starting a blog, or adding a blog to your existing website, is a great place to begin. This provides an easy-to-find platform for you to publish content and connect with new and existing athletes. You can also use a blog to share more than just articles. Many coaches will grow a successful online coaching business by producing videos to share in-depth training tips and other valuable content.
In the early 2000s, triathlon was one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S., gaining massive popularity among amateur athletes and hobbyists looking to get fit or try something new.
While the growth in triathlon is not as strong today; it’s still a prevalent sport that requires leaders and coaches in the community. Many triathletes from all over the world are seeking triathlon coaches to help them train more effectively and thrive on race day.
Further incentive to start a triathlon coaching business is that the average income of today’s USAT member is over $100k/year. In short, there is no shortage of wealthy athletes looking for good coaches. These points and other compelling data on the demographics and trends associated with triathlon can extra motivation for those who are on the fence about diving into a career as a triathlon coach.
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