• Chris K

How A Coach Should Answer Questions From Clients

Updated: Aug 25




A client recently sent me roughly 10 detailed questions when I sent them a new program.


The new program was a diversion from my previous methodology involving a different way of lifting than she is used to.


This was a natural reaction. When things suddenly change, people wonder why.


The questions were:


(Paraphrased)


  • Why the sudden increase in single rep sets?

  • Why are reps ,low after an injury?

  • Why did you change strategy?

  • I liked the previous way of doing things, why change something I enjoy and get a lot out of?


Why are your clients asking questions?


Clarity. In this instance I didn't explain my thinking.


Hindsight is always 20/20. It is clear now that I should of explained why I changed how I write her programs so she was on board immediately.


If you are unclear while defining the purpose of a particular block to a client, they will naturally have questions and/or feel somewhat lost.


Genuine Interest


Client's don't work with coaches for programming alone.

Client's want to learn, to improve their knowledge and to feel capable of being involved in the decision-making process when it comes to their training.


A client will have questions about every conceivable thing relating to your programming if they are highly interested in the process.


Facilitate this passion for learning or you'll quickly be replaced by someone who will.


HOW TO ANSWER


Guage the current knowledge of this client and use the terminology you think they are familiar with most of the time but add in the occasional term that you explain and simplify.


Gradually build up the fitness jargon they are familiar with and they will learn a great deal.


If a question is big and expansive, write the question down and provide them with a detailed answer in an email, message, video, or an article.


When you provide such a detailed response it provides you with content if someone asks the same question again, a client will feel valued as you've spent a lot of time answering their question and it gives you a chance to demonstrate your knowledge.


As with every question a client asks, if you don't know the answer, tell them you don't know the answer. If you should know the answer, go away and research it, if it's way out of your lane, find someone who can answer your client's question without making a guess that everyone can see through.


You've made a mistake OR The Client Thinks You Have


People don't like confrontation. Subtly asking questions can be a way of subverting an argument in an attempt to bring a mistake to your attention.


If you realise you've made a mistake, thank them for bringing it to your attention and fix it as quickly as you can.


I make mistakes in clients' programs ALL THE TIME. This is due to the fact that in coaching there are no 100% right or "wrong" answers to the best way forward, only various shades of grey.


50/50 decisions sometimes go the wrong way. Rep schemes may not fit with the person's life all of a sudden. Mistakes here are unavoidable. Being able to fix them quickly becomes a key skill within a coach's toolbox.


If you think a client is asking you questions because you've made a mistake explain how the mistake came to be, explain your thought process, and the options you were weighing up in your mind and go on to explain how you will fix the issue.


HOW TO ANSWER


Here, answering as promptly as possible is important. A client has doubts, or you've made a mistake or a mistake has prompted doubts.


If you think a client is asking you questions because you've made a mistake explain how the mistake came to be, explain your thought process, and the options you were weighing up in your mind and go on to explain how you will fix the issue.


Thank the client for bringing it to your attention. Answer in detail. Correct your course as soon as you can.


Answering these questions well will decide whether a client loses faith in you as a coach, loses some respect for you or you can use it as an opportunity to show your knowledge, to show that you will go above and beyond to correct a mistake and that you care immensely about how they feel.


They Don't Agree With The Direction You Are Taking


Sometimes your clients won't agree with the roadmap you present them to take them towards their goals.

This will prompt questions. If your roadmap is correct, or, as is more accurate "good enough," you'll be able to explain your thinking and put their worries to rest.


Answering these questions effectively will make or break the investment in your services.


Listen to your client and if their feedback is useful, you may change your roadmap to accommodate their needs. If you don't or won't answer questions relating to this, you will lose your client.


You may have written the best plan ever conceived, but if your client isn't invested in it, it won't be done.


This means you should carefully consider the program you give to people. If you don't and a client has questions, you may be caught short.


Sometimes a client will ask you questions to get more rest or because they enjoy chatting. Whether you should allow this depends on the goal of the client.

If it's a strength session with lots of time between sets you can talk away, if it's an endurance session requiring little to no rest, you may have to be a little stricter with your client. If they fire questions are you during a session like this, write them down and send them an answer later so you aren't dismissing the question but delaying the answer to further accomodate their needs.


HOW TO ANSWER


If a client is asking questions because they don't agree with the direction you are taking there is a disconnect between you and your client which needs patching up.


This is why answers need to be carefully considered here. This isn't a time for "shut up and get it done" style answers because if a client thinks you are training them "wrongly" I guarantee they won't follow your programming for long.


Here is where detailed answers are the order of the day.


If you win them over by your persuasive arguments, wonderful. You have a client fully onboard with your methods again.


If you are sure of your methods but they aren't you still need them to be following your program. Compromise is required.


In every plan there is room for some adaption.


Speak to your client frankly and see what compromises you can reach to get on the same page.


If it's a strength session with lots of time between sets you can talk away, if it's an endurance session requiring little to no rest, you may have to be a little stricter with your client. If they fire questions are you during a session like this, write them down and send them an answer later so you aren't dismissing the question but delaying the answer to further accommodate their needs.


GENERAL RULES FOR ANSWERING CLIENT QUESTIONS


  • Be Thankful

  • Use particularly good questions and make them into content you can use to answer the question if it comes up again

  • If you don't know the answer, be honest about not knowing the answer and refer to someone who does

  • Understand that there is usually a good reason that someone is asking questions

  • Be patient

  • If it's inappropriate to answer the question when they ask, make sure you provide an answer later

  • Don't answer with "shut up asking questions and get your training done" unless you want to get fired as a coach

  • Clarity. In this instance, I didn't explain my thinking. of other people. You can't have all the answers yourself. Referring to other people's good work can save you a heap of time. Make sure you aren't copying and pasting without giving credit though


Conclusion


When a client asks you a question, be nice, be thorough and thank them for asking questions and taking an interest.

Foster their interest.

Build their confidence.

Be a badass coach.


By Chris Kershaw

The Heavy Metal Strength Coach




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