When we get into coaching we rarely think about the fact that we’re operating a business at the same time. Fortunately, these days online tools can really help make life easier and allow us to focus on exactly what we’re good at.
Here are a few of the online tools for triathlon coaches that I use to run my business:
There’s no better tool for coaching athletes than Training Peaks. It’s quite daunting to get started with and very time consuming. However, once you’re in a groove and working with it daily, it’s awesome and saves so much time. Like any good endurance event planning for it takes just as much dedication to stay on top of things.
When it comes to planning a periodized training plan, adjusting on the fly, analyzing data and reducing workload Training Peaks is the leader in the race. There are some things I don’t like, but it has to do with user experience and feeling confused from time to time. It’s improving and the customer support is really good, which is probably more important to me than anything else.
When you sign up, make sure you do a one-on-one training with one of their support reps. Tony, who worked with me was also a cycling coach. He was able to show me how he uses the system with his clients and that was very eye-opening.
In addition to the web application, they have smart phone apps that sync seamlessly with what you see online. It’s very convenient when you’re out with your clients working out.
Alternatives to Training Peaks
I could only find one that might even be remotely near in quality.
For as old as email is (predates the internet) and for as little as it has changed, it is still one of the most reliable forms of communication. The reason is use Gmail is because of the spam filters are so good and the custom filters are extremely helpful.
For example, here’s a filter I use to help keep my inbox clutter down.
If an email contains “Schedule for” in it, I label it “Training Peaks” and skip the inbox. The email will continue to show as unread, but it’s not an urgent or pressing email so it doesn’t sit in plain view. It helps keep you focused on what’s important.
I’m a fan of WordPress. It’s a publishing platform and this site is built on it. I come from a background of building websites and have used WordPress for a long, long time and that makes me a lot more biased towards it.
The truth is, WordPress is incredibly easy to use…if you’re already familiar working within it. It can be difficult if you’re not and quite confusing. Here are some quick tips about the platform for you to consider.
Out of the box you get a basic blog with the ability to create some pages, but not much else. You get to use, for free, one of the default themes provided with your install. Otherwise, you can buy some really nice premium themes around the internet.
Themes are not all created equal. You don’t want the “all-in-one” type of theme. It usually offers way more than you need and will cause a ton of problem long-term. Cr3tive, Array, Themezilla, Themeskingdom, and one of my favorites Themetrust.
In addition to themes, you can extend WordPress using plugins. Plugins add functionality to your site to give you the ability to create forms, sell products, accept payments and more. While there are ton of good free ones out there, the premium ones like Gravity Forms are expensive, but take care of so much, they’re worth it. Here’s a list of free and paid plugins I recommend.
- Gravity Forms (paid)
- WordPress SEO by Yoast (free)
- OptinMonster (paid – collect emails)
- Jetpack (free – adds a ton of useful plugins like statistics)
- Google Analytics by Yoast (free)
- CoSchedule – (paid – useful for scheduling blog posts)
- Easy Digital Downloads – (free w/ paid extensions – used to sell digital items)
- WooCommerce – (free with paid extensions – used to create an sell goods online)
Slack is an application for messaging. It’s like Skype with a few differences or advantages. Group messaging is a breeze. You can talk with/to a large number of people with ease.
Generally companies use this tool to communicate within their team. You can set up channels and talk about specific projects or privately message groups of people (think of a management team) or one-on-one with team members. I’m planning on using it with clients giving them a place to ask questions of our coaches without using email. I’m experimenting with it and will see how it goes. It mostly depends on how clients like it.
Insightly is a customer relation manager (or CRM). It’s a way to keep track of potential, current and past customers. It’s only useful if you’re consistent with it. I like to take notes about important things that happen with clients because I can’t possibly remember everything. Using tools like Insightly can seem like overkill but I think keeping as much information about your client is a good thing. You never know when you’ll need to recall something discussed months earlier.
Momemtum is an extension for the Chrome browser. In Chrome, when you open a new tab it shows you the most recent or most visited sites which can be a bit distracting.
Momemtum changes this and instead adds a random gorgeous photo of nature, the time, a simple to do list and a question. That question is “What is your main focus for today?”. Now, every time you open a new tab, it simply reminds you what your focus for the day is. It’s a small thing, but very helpful.
There are a lot of note taking applications out there. Simple Note is one of my favorites. It’s really the simplest one out there. It doesn’t fuss over users, though it does offer collaboration. It just gives you a blank sheet of digital paper to jot down your thoughts and to tag them for organizational purposes.
If you haven’t before used Dropbox before, you’ve got to right now! Dropbox is used for sharing files simply. In the context of coaching, it’s easy to share excel documents, video analysis and anything else. Simply copy and paste the file into a shared folder and the next time your client opens their computer, the file is automatically downloaded for them.
You should know what Youtube is. I don’t use it for uploading funny videos of cats doing stupid things. I use it to upload video analysis of my swimmers. I send my athletes a link and they’re able to watch it easily on their computer, phone or tablet. It’s free and really easy to use.
Stripe is what’s called a “payment gateway”. When you take credit cards online you need a way to process that transaction securely. A lot of people use services like Paypal but those usually take you away from the site rather than completing the transaction immediately.
You may not realize this but customers are more likely to buy your product if the checkout process is completed on your site and without being redirected to a new page. Stripe is a service that allows you do to accomplish. Usually you’ll need to purchase an extension for a plugin but let me tell you, it’s worth it!
If you are organization freak like me, you’ll love Trello. It’s an online tool that allows you to organize items. The items can be tasks, to dos, or whatever you want. You can label them, categorize them on boards and set it up in a way that makes sense to you. If you have a bunch of coaches on your staff you can include them on your “board” and collaborate with ease.