The crucial questions to consider when picking your cycling coach

Posted on: October 13th, 2017

How to pick the best cycling coach

If you want to improve as a cyclist there’s no doubt experienced club mates can be of huge help. But nothing beats having a coach. There are a few things you should consider when picking yours.


How to pick the best cycling coach for your needs


Stephen Delaney is a former Rás winner and Irish international, now turned international coach.

The Dubliner was one of the very best riders in the country during the 1980s. And though he never had a full-time coach or access to things like power metres or heart rate monitors, he still did well.

Nowadays, he’s a full-time coach. Here he mulls issues everyone should consider when picking a cycling coach.

Related: “I was thinking ‘it can’t get any faster’. Then Roche attacked to win”

By Stephen Delaney

1. Should your coach have competed at a high level?

How to pick the best cycling coach

Just because your coach hasn’t competed at the same level as you – or want to compete at, doesn’t necessarily mean he or she can’t assist you.


I think an understanding of the demands of the level of competition the athlete is targeting is important.

However, having competed at a high level myself, it is not a requirement.

Just because someone competed at a high level doesn’t mean they can get a message across and in fact, the reverse is often true.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is often cited as someone who did not compete at the top level.

And Team Sky performance director Tim Kerrison is an example of someone bringing coaching skills across from cycling to other sports like swimming.


2. How much should you pay for a coach?

Costs vary wildly and can often be quite deceptive. Also, sports have traditions where running, for instance, has no real history of paid coaching except at a very high level.

Cycling has always had paid coaches, whereas in triathlon it is accepted that any coaching is paid for.

What you expect from your coach should dictate cost.

If you are looking for monthly programs with only minimal contact then off-the-shelf programs are available from €40 while you can get coached programs from €50-€90 monthly.

If you are in a group training full time with a coach (who sees you every day) expect to pay accordingly.”


3. How should the coach detail your sessions?

I don’t do any pre-prepared programs. This is important because no two people are the same.

Also, the plan should only be for the next month maximum.

As well as this, I write everything in pencil so we can change the plan regularly, based on feedback.


4. Are coaches really necessary?

How to pick the best cycling coach

Even the top riders are coached. Here top rider turned coach Tommy Evans, far right, tutors Paul Griffin and David McCann while the duo were riding for Ireland.


The major benefit of having one is guidance and sometimes saving an athlete from themselves.

Less is generally more when it comes to training and managing intensity at the right times.

A coach should have a clear idea of the requirements to fulfil your goal and will manage getting you there on the day, instead of trying to get you fit too quickly.

It may already be clear to you that you are tired and under stress (at times) but you keep training regardless.

However, with a coach you really can’t hide it and they can manage your training load through difficult times.