I swear by this method, but I’ll let him
break it down…
I have a rule with my athletes.
Anyone who goes on to compete in college has to send
me a tshirt of their sport and school.
Over the years I’ve collected a pretty good arsenal of
(Coincidentally, I’m wearing one of those shirts as I
The thing is, I don’t even have to ask anymore, athletes
just ask for my address and send me my shirt.
It stems from a relationship we’ve developed over time.
In fact, I get calls, emails and messages from former
athletes every week.
So you can imagine how hard they work for me in our
training sessions if they independently keep in touch
when their obligation to me is long over.
So how do you get your athletes to commit themselves
to your team, system and training?
The way to get your athletes to buy into your coaching
is very simple.
In fact I’ve mentioned this before but never really
focused on it in an article or email.
Sometimes, as coaches, parents, etc. I think we assume
that just because we are adults and ‘authority’ figures
that athletes are going to respect that and follow
And if you think that, I have to wonder what
color the sky is in your happy little world.
Kids are skeptical and rebellious.
They may be doing what you say and ‘yessing’ you to
death, but they know whether or not your coaching
And they are actively finding ways around your half
I truly can’t count the number of athletes (and parents)
who have come to me and said:
‘My coach doesn’t know what he/she is doing. Half
the team is hurt and people are starting to give up.
Can you talk to my coach or give me workouts I can
do that will actually make me better?’
The funny thing is, most of these athletes come from
the most ‘successful’ programs in their area, but we’ll
get into why that is in another article.
Of course *YOUR* athletes would never say those things,
but those “other” coaches’ athletes sure do.
So you have to get your athletes to buy into what you
do. And that starts at your very first workout, practice
or training session.
Because even if they’re paying you to teach them how
to get faster, it doesn’t mean they’ll come back for
Here is my sure-fire way to get athletes to buy into
what you’re teaching.
But first I have to warn you.
Once you do this, you have to be able to back it up.
Your athletes *will* call you out. And if you make
yourself a liar, then you’ll lose the entire group.
Here’s the magic words to tell your athletes:
“Every single thing we do in practice is specifically
designed to make you better. If I can’t explain to you,
in a way that makes sense, exactly how any part of any
workout we do is going to make you a faster athlete,
then you don’t have to do it.”
I’m telling you that those words are magic.
It tells your athletes that you’re committed to doing
things right and that you know what you’re talking
Because as soon as you read those words, in your heart
of hearts, you knew whether or not you could back that
statement up if you were put on the spot.
In making that one of the first statements you make
to your athletes, two things will happen:
1. Your athletes will call you out on it.
When you can answer all their questions, they’ll do
absolutely anything you tell them to. Before long,
they won’t even bother asking you to explain.
Most of the time with my athletes, especially on a
tough speed or special endurance day, they’ll say those
‘How is doing this workout on this day going
to make me better?’
Then I’ll start to explain.
About 5 words in they’ll yell:
‘Forget it! We believe you. Just tell us what times
we have to hit.’
I love when that happens!
And when your younger athletes see the older ones so
willing to blindly follow you into battle, you’ve
created a dynamic within the group that leads to
continuous maximal effort.
2. You’ll rapidly become a better coach.
When they call you out, you have to come up with a
good answer. And remember, it has to be an answer that
they understand. I can rattle off a long answer full
of 5 syllable scientific words, but that means nothing
to a 16 year old.
Your answer has to be clear, simple and delivered in
2 minutes or less.
To make that happen, you have to be on top of your
game. The accountability that comes with verbalizing
the answer forces you to get a firm grasp on your
training system and methodology.
Explaining things out loud helps you fill in the holes
in your knowledge that every coach, no matter how
successful, invariably comes to find.
That’s the secret to laying the foundation for a
But it all hinges on your ability to explain these
In the end its simple, good coaches can do it or are
willing to learn. Trial by fire isn’t a bad thing, it
just takes confidence.
Bad coaches will be afraid to try or will make excuses
why that’s not a good idea.
There are only 2 categories.
Deep down, you know which category you’re in.
Get the program that will give you the knowledge and
confidence to answer those questions and give your
athletes the best possible training.
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