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Written by Jade McKee (Clean Health Online Master Coach)

Competition prep can be a hard process. You have to be so focused, following the plan 110% over a long period of time. By long, we mean LONG. Some competitors will be ‘in prep’ for 20+ weeks. And over such a long period of time, things won’t always go to plan.

Slip-up’s can happen. It’s not something you will need to worry about with ALL your competitors, it might just be a select one or two. It could involve eating a little too much at a family dinner, or an unexpected, totally untracked night out with friends. The possibilities here are endless.

So what happens when your competitor slips up?

How do you approach this particular situation?

First things first – you need to remember they are human and humans will make mistakes. So, as with any of your clients who might go off track – you comp prep client needs to get straight back to following the plan. It’s even MORE important as a competitor. While your Gen Pop client might have a set time frame to lose X-amount of weight, your competitor is on an even tighter schedule – with the added bonus of stepping on stage in a bikini or trunks at the end. There is no room to mess up in this situation!

When slip-ups happen, as a coach you need to be an expert at two particular things. These are empathy, and accountability.

So why are these so important? Well, by being able to show that you understand what another person – in this case your comp-prep competitor, is feeling or thinking, and to be non-judgemental about this, is displaying empathy. To be held accountable on the other hand, is to be held responsible for your own actions. As a coach it’s your job to hold your client accountable. Literally your job – that’s what they pay you to do.

Be Empathetic
Be empathetic with your client when they tell you about their slip-up. It might help to explain to them that you’ve been through it all before, you understand how difficult a prep can be. Remind them that it’s likely that other competitors are also going through the same struggles.

Hold Them Accountable
At the same time, you need to question your client to find out how and why the slip up happened, what they learned from it, and what you will be able to do as a team, going forward, to prevent it happening again. They aren’t getting off scot-free!

Be Open and Honest
Keep in mind how you might be making your client feel during this discussion too. You don’t want to ‘punish’ them, or make them feel guilty. You want them to keep being honest and open with you, and you definitely don’t want them to give up and quit!

Plan Ahead
As with any risk management process – if you consider things that could go wong along the way, you will be more likely to reduce the risk of it happening. Comp prep is no different. Have a brain-storm with your client about what they could do, for instance, next time they are invited out for a family dinner. Preparing their usual meal in advanced, and taking it with them could help prevent over-eating from happening.

This is the same when going out with friends – they would need to be prepared and to take their own meals. Prepping for a competition requires a lot of discipline and self-control. If your client is 4 weeks out from a show, going out with the girls for drinks after work might NOT be the best idea if they don’t have the self-control not to join in.If slip ups become a regular thing with your client, it might be time to sit them down for a serious discussion about whether prepping for a competition is a good idea for them.

If they can’t be compliant, now might not be the time for them to compete. And that’s not a bad thing – competitions will always be there! Having the right mindset, being able to commit, stay focused, and 100% on track are all necessary for optimal results in a competition prep. The last thing you want them to be thinking as they step on stage is, “what if I had followed the plan, would I be in better condition now?”.

So keep in mind, empathy and accountability. Mistakes might be made, but how your client ultimately recovers from them will come down to you.

To learn more about how to effectively coach physique athletes, enrol into the Training The Physique Athlete online course by Dr Layne Norton. Click here to enrol!

References:
1. Dr. Layne Norton. Training the Physique Athlete. Clean Health Fitness Institute. 2020.
2. Habits for Wellbeing. The Four Attributes of Empathy. Accessed 8th October 2020 from https://www.habitsforwellbeing.com/the-four-attributes-of-empathy/ 
3. Loisel, H. 2015. Empathy and Accountability When Leading Change. Accessed 8th October from https://go.forrester.com/blogs/empathyandaccountabilitywhenleadingchange/ 
4. Range – The real meaning of accountability in the workplace. Accessed 8th October 2020 from https://www.range.co/blog/accountability-in-the-workplace

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