Now THAT's a coach!
It's so difficult to find the right coach! Finding someone that you can trust to mentor you, whose teaching style is compatible with your learning style, and who you are comfortable with are the foremost priorities. But does any of that even matter if your coach sucks at the activity and/or sucks at teaching?
To be fair, it's possible to be a great coach without ever having been a great practitioner of whatever it is that your coaching. But that's rare, and even if a coach never achieved mastery in their craft, they would often need a relatively high level of competency to effectively instruct.
Again -- perplexingly -- there are a small number of great coaches out there who lack even high level competency in their arts, but still flourish with only theoretical knowledge. This is far more the exception than the norm, so if your coach isn't very good at their craft, be skeptical.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we've got those who are incredibly skilled at their chosen activity, yet are completely lacking in pedagogy. They can perform at an incredibly high level, yet can't articulate how or why they do what they do -- which makes it impossible for them to replicate their success in others.
So even if your (prospective) coach is a savant at whatever activity, there's no guarantee that they will be the person to help you reach your goals. As enticing as their resume may be, perhaps more important is the resumes of those they've guided.
Assuming performance and pedagogy are equal, expect that a coach can take you just a little bit further than their personal peak. Their own skills in the art will be the tools with which they mold you, and their skills of instruction will hopefully expedite your journey.
It then behooves you to seek a highly skilled coach because their level of expertise will likely determine your ceiling. If your coach peaked out as a mid-level amateur, don't expect them to take you much further than that. If they were an awful fighter (0-5) then you'll be lucky if their tutelage molds you into a journeyman with an even record!
So what? We should only receive coaching from people who were incredible fighters or have coached incredible fighters?
Well... If trust, comfort, and learning style compatibility weren't essential to reap the benefits of high-level instruction, then yes! But unfortunately, the relationship between fighter and coach is so intimate that, without rapport, a coach's skills and pedagogy are almost moot.
And thus is the coaching conundrum in a nutshell: how do you find a skilled instructor, who's an expert in the art itself, AND is compatible with you personally?
The honest truth is that we are often forced to make concessions on some point, and your goals will often dictate what you can afford to miss out on.
Are you just trying to have fun? Then a good relationship with solid instruction matters way more than your coach's technical ability.
Are you trying to become a successful competitor? Well you might not care for your coach as a person, but you'll work extra hard to make the relationship work so that you can extract maximum value from their skill and pedagogy.
Are you basically just chasing clout? Well then who cares how well your coach teaches if they're enjoyable to spend time with + have an impressive resume of their own? You're training with a badass on the regular! (Just make sure to document it on your Insta, or it doesn't count.)
So yes, there are workable models for navigating an imperfect fit, but when we first begin our search for a mentor to invest in, we naturally want it all. And we probably won't get it.
That's what makes it so difficult to find the right coach!