The Vital Things you MUST KNOW before hiring a coach or trainer!

USP - The vital things you must know before hiring a coach or trainer

As an athlete or parent it can be a difficult decision when choosing to hire a coach or trainer. There are thousands of trainers out there, with varying levels of skills.

I’ve compiled a list of 6 Tips to help you know exactly what to look for.

1. Qualifications-anyone can call themselves a personal trainer or a coach. And some of the certifications only require a 2 day online internet course to become a personal trainer. I don’t know about you but as an athlete or a parent I wouldn’t feel comfortable having my son or daughters sports performance put in the hands of a person that has only completed a course that didn’t even administer a competency test. Heck some of these certifications allow you to keep repeating multiple answer questions and exams until you get it right!

Make sure your trainer doesn’t get their certification from a cereal box!


At the bare minimum I would only work with a coach or trainer that has 3 year university degree in sports or exercise science as this demonstrates an appreciable amount of learning and the ability to prove they have attained some knowledge under exam like conditions. I.e. no open book exams or the inability to actually answer questions without asking the teacher. It’s fine to complete a degree but often a coach or trainers education stops there.

What was relevant a few years ago, may have changed completely. By failing to continue to learn a coach can be left behind by continuing to implement outdated training methods, which results in a sub-par performance and slower results which puts you or your children at a distinct disadvantage.  Check to see that your perspective coach or trainer actually continues to up-skill by re-investing in their own education and personal development by attending seminars, conferences, purchasing books and DVD’s etc.

Joey Hayes and Paul Chek sharing their latest coaching insights and training methods with each other!

2. Practical Coaching Experience-Unfortunately a 3 year degree doesn’t necessarily equate to any practical hands on coaching experience. A university degree provides the student with sufficient academic learning base but fails to take into account actually applying what is learnt. Learning from a textbook then transferring that which is learned and applying that to a real world setting and human being is an entirely different story and not as simplified as it seems. As there is a myriad of factors affecting the results and ultimate outcome.

The personal training and coaching industry is extremely transient with thousands of fly by nighters. Put it this way, it is a popular industry to get into mainly because the requirements to become a personal trainer are so easy, a colleague told me that anyone with a pulse can get a personal training certification! I read a statistic that 83% of personal trainers leave the industry or are unemployed within 1 year!  Mainly due to a lack of results. Make sure your coach or trainer has sufficient coaching experience, if the trainer or coach has been around a while it is probably because they are pretty good at what they do. 2021 marks Joeys 20th professional Coaching Year!


World Iron Woman Champ Courtney Hancock and AFLW star Katie Brennan Training the house down at the USP Gymnasium off-season 2017

Who would you put your son or daughters body in the hands of? Would you let a new surgeon who has just completed his studies operate on your son or daughter if he had no practical experience and had only read about it in a book? Or the surgeon that has been consulting for a decade that has worked with 1000’s of people? I’d choose the surgeon that has performed 1000’s of operations, not the amateur that wants to use me as a guinea pig! The risks are too high and 1 amateur coaching mistake can cost a talented athlete their career!

3. Results-It goes without saying that your coach or trainer should have a long list of testimonials, before and after photos of clients they have worked with. Your coach or trainer should have already achieved the results you are trying to achieve with a long list of happy, satisfied clients. Would you hire a coach that hasn’t actually helped anyone achieve the results you desire to achieve? For example, if I was a talented junior athlete aiming to become a professional athlete, would you hire a coach that had only worked with house wives looking to drop some body fat? Heck No! You’d go to the expert that had a proven track record of success and had helped hundreds of junior athletes to turn professional!

Talk is Cheap we let our USP Athletes results do the talking!

4. Does your coach or trainer Walk the Walk or simply talk the talk? What does your coach perform and look like? Is their body and performance a walking talking billboard for their business? You’d expect if the coach was this knowledgeable they would have an exceptional physique and performance.

USP Coach Joey Hayes Sprinting Faster than his Pro Athletes 🙂

It would be expected that your trainer or coach should walk the walk and talk the talk or be a walking talking billboard for their business. Would you take financial advice from a financial advisor that was broke? Likewise would you take your health, fitness and physical performance information from someone that didn’t actually practice what they preach or train themselves? It is hypocritical to expect your clients not to eat rubbish or drink alcohol, if you do.

So looking at your coach or trainers physique can give you an indication of how effective the trainers methods are and if they actually follow their own advice. If the trainer is the size of a house it may not be the best person to be eliciting fat loss advice from. Likewise the skinny trainer that wears t-shirts that are too tight for him with arms that are the size of toothpicks who is weak as a 5 year old school girl may not be the best source of strength training and dietary information for muscle gain or sports performance. (insert If you’re coach looks like these guys, you may want to find another coach!)

Side Note: There are exceptions to the rule. Beware that some great trainers out there have overcome terrible genetics to obtain their current physique. For example, a fat Loss specialist may have formerly been morbidly obese, but now maintains a healthy physique, although not ripped with etched 6 pack abs, may still be a great source for information as they have been through the process themselves and have achieved the desired results.

Likewise the trainer who has overcome poor skinny genetics to have a lean muscular build and great strength may not be the biggest or strongest guy in the gym, but he can certainly help the skinny guy get pretty strong and muscular because he has been there and done that from the same position.

Remember the genetic freak with massive arms and 6-pack abs may not be the best source for information as he may be able to get results on any program or diet, may use steroids and may have gotten to this current state with relative ease-so his information may not be that valid to the regular guy or normal athlete! Again I know a few coaches that are fantastic coaches, although there physiques don’t actually show it, due to severe injuries they have sustained throughout their lives.

5. Mentor and role model-What is the coaches behaviours like away from the gym? How do they train? How disciplined are they? Do they live the life they expect of their athletes? With the advent of the internet and facebook, it can be quite easy to check out a persons history and how they behave away from their coaching. In fact, employers now use this when interviewing potential employees you should do the same before hiring a coach. A coach does not necessarily have to be a saint, but it is widely recognised that humans adopt the behaviours of those they choose to associate with. A coach that has a balance in all aspects of their lives will be able to provide a better quality service to their athletes. Brisbane Bullets now Perth Wildcats basketballer is a qualified psychologist. It’s fair to say Matt is a great judge of character and can identify major psychological flaws-yet chooses to be coached and mentored by Joey Hayes.

Matt Hodgson with a signed Bullets basketball jersey proudly displayed in the USP Gym Hall of Fame!

6. Standards and Expectations-What are the coaches standards and expectations of the athletes under his guidance? What is the coaches level of excellence?  Is the coach content with mediocrity? For example, mediocre program design, average exercise technique. Or is the coach an EXCELLENCE FREAK? Generally speaking, the higher up the coaching rung, the higher the coaches and athletes expectations. Some clients will be repelled by higher expectations and clearly established levels of excellence. Other clients will value an uncompromising standard of excellence! As a general rule of thumb the Higher the Standards and Levels of Excellence, the BETTER and FASTER the RESULTS!

AFL Superstar Kurt Tippett talks about Joeys standards and expectations!

Great coaches do exist, although they can be hard to find. Do the necessary homework and background checks to verify the coach has done what they say they have done. Use the tips outlined above to make a more informed decision as to who to train with.

All the best.

Joey Hayes