When I begin working with a new athlete I ask them to fill out a questionnaire - sport successes/failures, training excitements/anxieties, past and current training, goals, access to equipment, and "anything else you would like to tell me" - as a base from which to establish the relationship and build the first couple weeks' schedules.
Why the first couple questions? You can learn a whole lot about an athlete and how they will respond to training, any training, simply from their responses to a few more psychologically oriented questions. I feel the delivery method is sometimes just as important as the message delivered and when someone (i.e. me) is paying attention, it does not take much to learn each athlete's unique response paradigm.
Today I started working with a new athlete: C.O. I am always looking for new athletes with whom to work and C.O. reminded me of some of the reasons why: the drive to seek the horizon of our personal potential, the focus of those with a clear-cut goal, and a little bit of good, ol' fashioned enthusiasm.
Case in point, C.O.'s response to the "is there anything else you would like to tell me" question was this.
Little does C.O. know my coaching philosophy does include lots of pounding on scrap metal with sledgehammers...
You think I'm joking. It's a great sitz-pits core workout!