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Adam Haines
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The Fundamentals for Being Successful in Online Coaching

Freely available until 30 June 2021 and then exclusive to UK Coaching Subscribers. Experienced personal trainer Adam Haines knows what it takes to thrive, not just survive, as an online coach. In this six-part series, he guides you through the process one step at a time

The age of digital has now worked its way into every industry imaginable, even coaching, which has predominantly been based on PEOPLE and traditionally in a face-to-face setting – whether that’s 1:1 or a group environment. 

However, the digital era doesn’t have to change that and this ‘six steps to success’ series is going to give you all the information you need to help you set yourself up to be able to deliver online coaching whilst still putting PEOPLE at the heart of everything you do. 

Online coaching is not new to the world and coaches have been performing online coaching since the birth of the Internet. However, it is only fairly recently that the general population has opened its arms to online coaching and the benefits of a digital coaching model compared to the traditional face-to-face setting. 

Not only that but the development of online tools/platforms and resources to be able to host online coaching have reached a stage where you can provide a seamless and coherent service to your clients/participants without the frustrations that online software carried with it just a few years ago. 

A demanding challenge

Be prepared to work hard. Online coaching isn’t a quick fix – nor is it a fast-track way to creating a high net worth business whilst programming remotely on your laptop.

The first thing we need to realise when considering online coaching is that being a great online coach is harder than being a great face-to-face coach. 

This is due to the increased difficulty of having personal interaction, assessment and review processes whilst coaching. 

When you are coaching face to face you have the luxury of being able to watch people and coach them along their journey in real time with the ability to make adjustments to their practice along the way and you are also on hand to answer questions from the client/participant in real time. 

With online coaching, unless you are adapting a Live Streaming service (we will cover this and other online coaching modalities later on), you will lose that ability to coach in real time and you will need a deep understanding of the coaching practice to be able to pre-determine any questions and problems that may arise ahead of time and have a solution ready for your client/participant.

Effort is the key to being successful online and, although there are ways of working and coaching to make the administration and delivery of online coaching easier, ultimately it still requires a significant amount of time and effort to service the client/participant effectively and efficiently. 


Master the basics before transitioning online

It is important to master the basics of great coaching before you decide to take the leap into the world of online coaching. Too often you see coaches trying to service clients online without the basic knowledge and framework of what it takes to be a great coach. 

You will need to master the key attributes that are imperative to creating consistently memorable coaching experiences, which are:

  • Great Safety
  • Great Organisation
  • Great Demonstrations
  • Great Instruction & Explanation
  • Great Listening & Questioning
  • Great Feedback

These key attributes become even more vital to understand when coaching online and you can dive deeper into these here

Often within the sport and leisure industry, you see new coaches try and take a leap of faith into an online coaching model before learning the core principles of practice with hands-on, relevant experience with participants. 

The downfall of this is a severe lack of ability to predetermine future needs and predict problems that may appear ahead of time so that you are able to react and respond with suitable solutions. 

An example of this would be a coach working within the field of strength & conditioning with an athlete looking to make improvements in strength, speed and agility. What happens if the athlete gains an injury during the early stage of a training phase? 

A coach new to the industry may not have the experience of dealing with injuries with athletes and, given the nature of online training, it is more difficult to assess injuries and capabilities of the athlete. 

The coach may see a strength and conditioning programme as linear, with progressive micro and macro cycles of programming. The ability to break down the programme and regress exercises, adapt and keep all elements of an athlete’s programme moving along through injury, usually come with years of practical hands-on delivery. 

Simplicity is key!

When online coaching, rather than thinking about giving your clients/participants an all-singing, all-dancing platform that has every technological bell and whistle you can think of, think about making it simple. Very simple! 

In fact, the more you can simplify your systems the higher the compliance to your online programming will be. Think simple yet effective solutions that make it easy for your client/participant to use; the closer it is to their daily norm the better.


Try using a communication tool such as WhatsApp for the customer service element of your online coaching, rather than asking your client/participant to log in to an overly-complicated online tool that is not at hand’s reach and part of their daily routine. 


Another consideration when transitioning online is your coaching style. It is easy when coaching online to get caught up in programming differently to what you usually would when coaching face to face.

It is easy to programme what you think your client/participant wants rather than what they actually need for them to progress and get results.

Not only will sticking to your programming help your client/participant get better results, it will also reduce the chances of injury.

If your usual coaching style is to programme compound lifts for strength, such as the squat and deadlift, then all of a sudden you transition to online coaching and start programming HIIT style training with complex movement patterns, then your client/participant is now performing movements that they are not used to and will have to learn these new complex movements without you there in person to give coaching cues and guidance. 

As previously mentioned: keep it simple and familiar.


Think about your own coaching practice. If you feel there is a demand for your services online and you have the necessary experience to perform great coaching online, then you can start to scope out which online business model would be the most suitable and begin to identify your audience and client base. 


Guide to Online Coaching

Read the rest of the six-part series geared towards helping you develop your skills and business acumen as an online coach

Continue reading

Related Resources

  • Can Online Training Benefit Clients?

  • Making it as a Personal Trainer: The Difficulties We Face

  • Seven Ways to Market Yourself Effectively


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Adam Haines