Archive for “Youth Fitness Business” Category

Top 10 Posts of 2018

The IYCA would like to thank you for another incredible year.  We have several amazing things coming in 2019, but before we get there, let’s take a look back at the Top 10 posts from 2018.  

Find a nice place to read (or watch videos) and spend a few minutes during the holidays to go through anything you’ve missed.  There is a TON of great information from some of the best in the profession (These are NOT necessarily in order of “importance”):

#10 Power Clean Progression – Tobias Jacobi – Tobias was named the High School S & C Coach of the year, and his exercise progression series was a great addition to our Free Content area.

#9 Early Sports Specialization: Getting Them to Listen – Brett Klika – Brett is clearly one of the best youth trainers in the world, and this article gave advice on how to educate parents/coaches.

#8 Rethinking Long-Term Athlete Development – Jim Kielbaso – Sometimes the status quo needs to be challenged so that we can move forward.

#7 Bodyweight Training Progressions – Jordan Tingman – College S & C Coach, Jordan Tingman, joined the IYCA community with some awesome content that incorporates written and video material.

#6 A Strength Coach Career Path: A Winding Road – Joe Powell – A long-time contributor, and another college S & C coach, Joe uses his personal experiences as a backdrop to developing a career in sports performance.

#5 You Can’t Microwave an Athlete – Jim Kielbaso – One of the most “shared” articles of the year, this piece is very helpful for educating parents/coaches about why our approach works.

#4 The Stretching Conundrum – Dr. Greg Schaible – A talented and well-respected Physical Therapist, Greg has been another great addition to the IYCA community this year.  This article gets you thinking about how to best utilize stretching/flexibility work.

#3 Strength Coach’s Guide to Achilles Tendinopathy – Dr. Greg Schaible – One of Greg’s most popular pieces, probably because we all work with athletes who experience Achilles pain at some point.

#2 Plyometrics: 3 Ways They May Be Hurting Your Athletes – Phil Hueston – IYCA Advisory Council member and long-time member of the community, Phil is one of the most entertaining writers in the industry.  This article explains how many coaches mis-use plyometrics.

#1 The #1 Predictor of Coaching Success – Karsten Jensen – International S & C expert Karsten Jensen created this post after a conversation about surface learning began.  It turned out to be one of the most important pieces of the year because it creates a framework for expanding your knowledge.

If you just can’t get enough, here’s one more for you:

Bonus Practical is the New Functional – Jim Kielbaso – Most of us don’t coach in a vacuum.  Athletes are doing a million things, and we usually don’t get to control all of it.  This article discusses how important it is to create programs that are practical instead of “perfect.”

#1 Predictor of Coaching Success – Karsten Jensen

This brief article is inspired by a recent newsletter posted by Jim Kielbaso on the topic of diving deeper with respect to educational knowledge.  If you’re not getting the newsletter, sign up HERE.  

For some individuals, diving deeper into a topic appears as natural as walking. If you fall into this category, you may question the usefulness of an entire article on the topic.

At the other end of the spectrum, however, are coaches and trainers for whom diving deeper does not seem to come as easy. How can that be?

There appear to be at least two pre-requisites to diving deeper.

  • Motivation and willingness to learn and grow – without this element diving deeper will not happen.
  • Skills to ask the questions that guide the process (the dive) – without this skill, there might be uncertainty about what books to read, which courses to take, etc.. Trainers/coaches might feel that they read a lot but that it is not helpful in their work.

This article discusses practical tools to: 
1: Increase motivation to learn and grow as a coach or trainer.
2: Determine how to dive deeper.

1. How to increase motivation and willingness to grow

A component of my work is to teach a fundamental certification course for the Certified Professional Trainers Network in Canada. Within the first hour of the four-day workshop, I typically mention the following quote:

I jokingly say, “If you truly live and apply this, then we can all go home.”

Do you accept the idea that a willingness to learn is a powerful attitude? If so, consider the following statement that takes Zig Ziglar’s quote one step further and applies it in a training context:

Make the next program better (than ever before).
Make the next session better (than ever before).

If you truly live this attitude, you might experience a couple of really cool benefits:

  • Your growth as a coach/trainer skyrockets from daily incremental improvements. It is really the law of compound interest applied to the learning process.
  • Your motivation during program creation and the sessions with your athletes may increase. It is no longer: “I have done this before.” It is now, “What am I going to learn today? How am I going to grow today?”

If you are still not–on a visceral level–excited and committed to the idea of constant learning and growing, then fill out a pain-pleasure diagram. This form of diagram relates to the saying:

“If you have a big enough WHY, then you will figure out the how.”
Jim Rohn
(Please check the work of Anthony Robbins for more information).

To execute the exercise, make 4 big squares on a sheet of paper, and label them as in the example below. Begin by writing the components that come with the strongest emotional drive. Next add elements that you intellectually agree with, but do not necessarily feel on an emotional level.

Your goal is to reach a point of an emotional shift that “locks you in” to constant learning and growing. Below is an example:

Learning Just showing up
  1. Faster growth as a trainer
  2. Increased motivation
  3. Potentially higher compensation due to increased skills
  4. Increased referrals due to better client experiences
  5. Learning skills that might be useful if you ever leave training/coaching
  6. More fun
  1. It is easy
  2. More free time in your schedule to do other things
  1. Time commitment
  2. Cost of books,  workshops, etc.
  1. A subtle feeling that you are winging it
  2. Frustration because you don’t understand why the athletes are not motivated to follow your program
  3. Frustration because you don’t understand why the athletes cannot execute the cues you give
  4. Lack of results and lack of promotions
  5. Boredom during sessions because you feel it is just a chore and you don’t really know how to be involved
  6. Frustrated with program design because you feel it is just about getting it done

One of the big challenges for many self-employed coaches is that they have to be both a coach and a business person. On one hand, they want to learn and grow as a coach. On the other hand, they may find their coaching growth is sacrificed in order to stay on top of the business side of things.

Personally, the coach/business dichotomy has never really sat well with me. On the deepest level, I feel like a coach or a teacher. For that reason, I absolutely love the following sentence that merges the objective of the coach and the businessperson into one.

“Be so good that they (the athletes) can’t stop talking about you.”

I first heard this quote ascribed to Disney and I do know a couple of very successful businesses that are built completely on living that statement.

Let’s assume that you are motivated and locked in on learning. The last part of the article discusses a process for actually doing it and diving deeper.

2. How to Dive Deeper and Learn Every Day

In some of his workshops, Paul Chek talks about how his career in fitness and healing began.

He was stationed at Fort Bragg as (I believe) a paratrooper and was simultaneously boxing and doing triathlons. He did well and his superiors said that if he trained the other soldiers he would get extra time to train on his own.

He accepted that premise and started training the other soldiers, even though he had no formal education at the time. Thus, during this early stage in his career, the sequence he experienced was:

1: Someone presented him with a specific problem.

2: He had to figure out how to fix it.

The point is not that learning in advance (such as through longer formal education) is not useful. The point is, regarding your continued education, one of the best approaches is to choose education (books, workshops, conferences) based on where your biggest questions are with respect to working with your athletes.

The approach is the opposite of trying to “stay updated” (impossible) or to follow what is “new” (big risk of wasting time). To help you determine your areas of focus, download my continuing education self-assessment here.

The 5-hour rule

With the overall approach laid out, the first thing to do is to schedule time weekly to learn. The 5-hour rule is great, but something is better than nothing.

Whatever time you assign should be divided between:

    1. Reading
    2. Thinking about and structuring what you read so you are able to apply it to your program design, sessions and career

Learning during sessions

From my experiences, there are three sources of learning during the session that can be used as guidance for how to dive deeper:

    1. Direct questions from athletes or clients.
    2. You instruct an exercise in a certain way and the athlete is not able to execute it correctly.
    3. The session goes as planned but you get a subtle feeling – or you consciously ask the question, “What could be improved?”

Always take quick notes and address them during the designated learning time.

Learning after the session

The following questions tie into the three areas above. However, additional insights may arise when you sit down with time to think. The sooner after the session you get the time to sit and contemplate, the better. Ask yourself:

  • Is there any aspect of the program that did not work and must be adjusted?            
  • Is there any aspect of the program that is not adequately defined and should be refined?                                                           
  • Is there any aspect of the program that works but could be improved?       
  • Are there any questions that could provide the basis for future research?

If it is not natural for you to ask questions, you might not feel that there are any answers to the questions listed above. If that is the case, you must be more aggressive and put your subconscious mind to work.

Ask the following questions with complete awareness, but don’t force an answer:

  • What is the most important question about < insert topic> that I have not asked yet?
  • What is the most important insight about < insert topic> that I have not had yet?
  • What is the most powerful strategy or tactic with respect to <insert topic> that I haven’t applied yet?

The answer will appear as an idea popping into your head seemingly out of nowhere, from a fellow trainer mentioning a specific book or workshop, or a Facebook post that “magically” seems to be just what you were seeking.

When you read, watch videos or attend workshops, one of the easiest traps to fall into is the thought that I have heard this before. I know it already.”                                                        

If you feel that this applies to you, then contemplate the following:

  1. Does the fact that I have heard something before make my programs better? (No.)
  2. Does the athlete/client benefit from me having heard something or “know” something? (No.) 

Only information that is applied to creating, supervising, instructing or evaluating training programs is beneficial to your work and to the client. Therefore, after reading material/attending lectures or workshops, ask yourself:

  1. Have I heard this before?
  2. If I have heard this before, am I applying the principles, and if so, how well am I applying the principles?  
  3. How can I apply these principles better?

Don’t ever accept the idea that you can’t execute a particular element of your work better. One of the worst situations you could be in is to not have a clear vision and plan of action for how to get better.

There is a great story told about legendary Spanish cello player, Pablo Casals. At 86, he was asked:  Why do you still practice?

He answered with the trademark of a true master, “I think that I am still improving.”

We find the same type of thinking within our own field. I spoke to Dr. Stuart McGill after the recent SWIS Symposium in Mississauga, Canada. He said:

The best assessment that I will ever do is the last one before I die, because I will be the wisest and most experienced.

Karsten Jensen has helped world class and Olympic athletes from 26 sports disciplines since 1993. Many of his athletes have won Olympic medals, European Championships, World Championships and ATP Tournaments.

Karsten is the first strength coach to create a complete system of periodization, The Flexible Periodization Method – the first complete method of periodization dedicated to holistic, individualized and periodized (H.I.P) training programs.

Karsten shares all aspects of The Flexible Periodization Method (FPM) with his fellow strength coaches and personal trainers through The Flexible Periodization Method workshop series (Levels I-VIII).  Find more information at

Is the Guru Always Right? – Brett Klika

As a young strength and conditioning coach, I would read an article or watch a presentation by one of my “big name” industry idols and immediately rush back to my own programs to employ what I had learned.

Sometimes, bam! It was like magic. The little programming secret I had learned from coach X helped transform my ability to help kids. Other times, it was more like, thud! The kids didn’t respond. It appeared unsafe for my training environment. I didn’t have the facilities, program setup, or coaching support required.

Assuming the problem was on my side (a guru would never lead me wrong), I often continued to torpedo my program with these strategies that weren’t really working for me or my athletes, but were apparently the “right” thing to do. After all, I didn’t want to seem like I was out of the loop when talking shop with colleagues.  The unfortunate result of this blind faith ranged from athlete and parent disengagement to unnecessary injury.

There definitely are “ideal world” or context-specific youth program strategies that can help improve kids’ performance. In the real world, however,  coaches find themselves in vastly different situations with the athletes, facilities, and training environments.  When we can be open to trying new things, but become reflective and honest enough to determine what works for us, it optimizes the performance and safety of our athletes.

Take an activity like crawling, for example. I personally tout the benefits of this training activity for nearly every level of athlete. However, in my touting, I may not mention that I primarily use this when I have a smooth indoor training surface. Outdoor synthetic turf gets too hot when the sun is out. Asphalt is out of the question, and poorly maintained real grass can get too muddy, sticky, and allergy-inducing to be a safe, effective surface for this activity.  

I only do crawling games when there is ample space because I’ve experienced multiple injuries from fingers getting stepped on when kids are moving in an over-congested area. I have primarily trained in upper-middle-class areas of wealthy Southern California, suggesting that the kids I’ve worked with are less likely to be morbidly obese than those training in more impoverished areas.

If this disclaimer was provided with every strategy a coach shares with the masses, our advice would take the shape of one of those drug commercials with the fast-talking “this drug might kill you” guy at the end. The truth is, within a majority of the context from which I coach and train, my athletes are engaged, parents see the value, and kids safely improve their strength from crawling activities. You may experience something completely different.  

Odds are, we’re both right.

Below are some of the alleged “must do” activities and equipment that many love, but I am willing to admit I’ve had either safety or practicality concerns within my own programs, particularly with groups of kids under the age of 8.

Medicine Balls

Gasp! How dare I question one of the original “4 Horsemen” of fitness? Don’t get me wrong, I still use medicine balls with nearly everyone I work with. However, when working with my youngest kids, I’ve developed concerns over the years.

For one, rebounding medicine balls often rebound too quickly off of the ground or off of walls for this age, resulting in frequent bloody noses and similar mishaps. Tossing balls back and forth hasn’t worked well with this age due to hand/eye coordination challenges and the relatively large size of many balls.

Soft-coated balls work better, but I’ve found these to be expensive and with the concrete area I’ve used for training, durability becomes a concern. I’ve also been challenged with balls rolling away or errantly being tossed in the wrong direction, causing tripping and “falling debris” hazards.

For my youngest athletes, I’ve had better success with softer weighted implements, like SandBells® that have similar benefits without the risks of most medicine balls. For rebounding types of activities, I’ll often use playground balls.


While it’s obvious we have to train youngsters to be able to move in every direction, I have grown to be extra careful when teaching kids to move backward. This activity requires movement with very little visual feedback. Young children rely almost exclusively on visual feedback, so their balance and spatial orientation are going to be severely compromised.

I’ve witnessed numerous falls and collisions, some resulting in concussions and broken bones when I’ve turned kids loose to do relay races, agility drills, and other activities while moving backward.

I still help children develop this skill, but I have learned to take the following considerations:

  1. Spend a significant amount of time teaching reverse marches and skips prior to running in this orientation. This includes performing agility drills using these regressions.
  2. Only perform back-pedaling in an open area where tripping will not result in colliding with other objects or people.
  3. When running backward, keep distance relatively short, i.e. 10-15 yards
  4. Never have young children race while running backward, particularly outside of 10-15 yards.

Resistance Tubing with Handles

For many, resistance tubing with handles has proven to be an easily transportable, safe, and effective resistance training method for nearly every age. While I’ve found this to be true with adults and more advanced, body-aware athletes, I have not found it to be true for youngsters.

For one, when training on a field with a group, there must be a fixed anchor to attach the tubing. I’ve found I can’t always depend on this. The elastic nature of the bands is a safety concern for young kids as well. Despite repeatedly sharing instructions and safety expectations, the temptation for kids to test the elastic boundaries of the bands is too great. One mis-handling can result in a band snapping another child. Yes, I have seen a child nearly “put an eye out”.

Even under regular training conditions bands can break under load, particularly when outdoors in the heat. When performing exercises, young children struggle with eccentric control, so the elastic recoil of the bands highlights this disparity.  Kids find this “ragdoll” phenomenon entertaining, so they are slow to correct.

I prefer using SandBells® and even medicine balls for resistance training with young children when away from an established weight room environment.  

The reason I share the above with you is to show that despite what “others” have said, I myself am challenged with some of the “established” paradigms when it comes to training youth. But, I have found ways and methods that work for me and my athletes in our training environment.

How do you determine if a training tool or program suggestion is truly working for you and the kids you work with, or if you’re merely trying to force square pegs into round holes?

Quickly answer these questions:

  1. Has your program grown objectively (in participation and profitability) since employing a new strategy?
  2. Does it improve athlete engagement?
  3. Does it improve value to parents?
  4. Has it resulted in more, or fewer injuries during training or game play?
  5. Does an increase in the amount of cost, administration, and/or time result in improved athletic AND BUSINESS results?
  6. Do you truly believe in the intended purpose and/or outcome?
  7. Does it improve the rate and magnitude of results with your athletes without compromising your training culture, business, or other critical factors allowing you to continue to help kids?
  8. Does it allow you to “be yourself” and connect with kids in the way you feel is the most critical?
  9. Does it objectively contribute to the longevity of your program and/or training business?
  10. Is the program model from which the advice comes relevant to yours?

As coaches, it’s essential that we employ programming tools that create the path of least resistance to the greatest magnitude of outcome for our athletes and our business.  

These tools can be different for everyone.


Brett Klika is a youth performance expert and a regular contributor to the IYCA who is passionate about coaching young athletes.  He is the creator of the SPIDERfit Kids youth training program and has run successful youth fitness programs all over the country.  Brett is an international speaker whose passion for youth fitness has helped thousands of people learn how to create exceptional training experiences for young athletes.


If you want to be better at coaching young athletes, the IYCA Youth Fitness Specialist certification is the industry gold-standard for youth fitness and sports performance.  Click on the image below to learn more about the YFS1 certification program.


How To Avoid the Post-Summer Slump – Brett Klika

June, July and August are a whirlwind for many performance coaches.

The absence of school and organized school athletics allow for plenty of time to train.  For many coaches, this is the rare time of year they can apply their knowledge while gaining experience working with kids from morning until night. The days are long, but the experience, impact and financial reward is often much greater than any other time of the year.

Without a little planning however, the spoils of summer can quickly turn into the famine of fall.

Veteran youth S&C professionals have undoubtedly experienced the near burnout rate of summer only to find themselves hustling to find clients to make ends meet during the fall. Summer’s frenzy can distract coaches from creating a plan for the season right around the corner. This often forces coaches to put themselves in training situations during the fall that they don’t want to be in.  

After experiencing this “feast and famine” cycle for many years, I realized that amongst the craziness of summer, I would need to start marketing for the fall. Believe me, this is the last thing I wanted to think about after a 12-hour day under the hot sun.  However, once I learned to operate training more like a business and less like a hobby, both my year-round impact and income have received a significant bump.

Parents and coaches plan ahead, so to have the opportunity to work with kids and teams in the fall, they need to know what is available by the middle of summer. Once summer is over and kids go back to school, it’s too late.  Imagine waiting until the day kids get out of school to tell a parent about a summer camp you are having. That parent would politely list the 30 other things they had already committed their kids to.

Below are some summer strategies to end the annual “feast and famine” cycle and begin creating opportunities for fall and beyond.

Construct a Coach/Program Database

Every youth S&C coach should not only be familiar with all of the seasonal and year-round sports in their area, they should have an active database with contact information for school and club coaches. This information can be obtained through websites and even from kids/parents. This provides an outline of possibilities for any time of year.  It also provides a starting point for creating a relationship with coaches and organizations.

Create a Conversation with Coaches

For every child you work with, make sure to obtain the contact information for their coach/coaches.  This not only goes into the large database, it provides a valuable opportunity to connect. Contact this coach and introduce yourself. Let them know you are working with their athlete and ask them for their perspective on what the child needs. Do not pitch a camp initially. As long as you are working with the child, provide occasional updates. Additionally, if there is a relevant article, blog or other pieces of valuable content you come across that impacts that coach’s sport, send it to them. 

This way you are not only displaying that you care, but that coach will also begin to value your perspective. Enriching these relationships creates year-round opportunities.

Use the same approach with all the coaches in the database. Every day, make it a point to contact 5 of them. Even if you don’t work with one of their athletes, introduce yourself and your business. Share a link to a blog or other piece of valuable content. Let them know you’re sharing the “3 Exercises to Prevent ACL Injuries” blog with videos because you and your business are committed to “helping athletes perform for life.”   No sales pitch, only a link to your webpage in the closing. If they reach out to thank you, it’s an opportunity to start a conversation and eventually work with them.

Understand Seasonal Cycles

All sports have an annual cycle of peak competition periods, off season, pre-season, etc. Most coaches will be the most interested in training during the 10-12 weeks leading up to their season. While summer is when fall athletes and coaches will probably be the most interested in training, fall is when winter sport athletes and coaches will be the most interested. Assuming you know the seasons, coaches, sports, etc. (your database), and you have created a dialogue with coaches, July is an ideal time to start offering pre-season training in September/October.

Mid to late July is also a time to start promoting general fall programs. Obviously, this means that the logistics and marketing materials are being created in early June. The marketing angle should address the winter sports and possibly even spring sports.  Additionally, receiving this information during the summer allows parents to prioritize the idea. Early bird pricing, etc. can be a great way to get a commitment before school starts.

The details for these fall offerings (days/times/prices) should be established prior to the beginning of summer camps. Kids and parents can sign up for “in-season” participation in training at a slightly discounted rate when they sign up for a summer package.

When it comes to in-season, there should always be an offering for teams to train during this time. Many teams are hesitant to commit to training during the season, so consider offering alternate programs that meet the needs of in-season athletes. For example, offer a weekly “recovery” session focusing on mobility, injury prevention or other recovery-based exercises. It may only be one day per week on a weekend, but it could be key to building a year-round relationship.

Consider All Sports

Many youth S&C coaches focus their marketing efforts on the most popular sports in their area. While the majority of children participate in these sports, other activities that are less mainstream can actually become tremendous markets. Dancers, figure skaters and other such athletes are often encouraged by their skill coaches to seek S&C coaches. Since many of these aren’t school sports, they aren’t subject to a seasonal ebb and flow. It’s important to include these organizations and coaches in your coach database.

I found that after school went back into session, young golfers and figure skaters were looking to train. I had formed relationships with local ice rinks, as well as a few golf pros by the process outlined above.  My fall schedule would fill with these athletes and I was able to eventually consolidate individuals into large training groups.

Know the Pros

Working with professional athletes is highly seasonal. However, professional athletes are able to train during the daytime hours when kids are in school. During the fall, many minor league baseball players begin to return home. By the end of October, most major leaguers are ready to begin their off-season training, assuming they didn’t go deep into the playoffs.  

If you don’t know any professional baseball players, get to know local agents. Understand who the baseball agents are in your area. Make sure to contact them and introduce yourself. Offer a tour of your facility or to meet them for coffee to let them know what you can do for their athletes.  Study their players and stats so you can make specific references. If the agent feels you are vested, they are more likely to suggest training with you.

Use the Momentum of Summer

Mid-summer (Mid to late July) is when athletes, parents, and coaches are the most “bought in” to a program. They have been watching their youngsters grow under your care and the value of your program has never been higher. It’s essential to have offers for fall available during this time.  A parent or coach who just witnessed their child do something better than they ever have, or catch their child doing a little “flex and smile” in the mirror, is going to be ready to commit. Again, the logistics and marketing materials need to be started in June.

Of course, as soon as fall training starts, it’s time to start creating opportunities for spring athletes to train in the winter!

Whether you own a gym/studio, or are employed by one, start thinking ahead to avoid the post-summer slump. Spend 30 minutes per day on the above steps to extend the success of summer far into the fall and beyond.


Brett Klika is a youth performance expert and a regular contributor to the IYCA.  He is the creator of the SPIDERfit Kids youth training program and has run successful youth fitness programs all over the country.  Brett is an international speaker whose passion for youth fitness has helped thousands of people learn how to create exceptional training experiences for young athletes.



How to Write & Launch a Book or Product – The Principles of Athletic Strength & Conditioning Story

Principles of Athletic Strength & ConditioningMany strength & conditioning and youth fitness professionals talk about writing a book or producing an information product.  Most feel that they have something inside them that will make a positive impact on the world, so there is an internal desire to share that knowledge.  The problem is that most people get stuck way before the book/product gets anywhere near completion.

In this episode of The Impact Show, Jim Kielbaso discusses the process of creating and launching a book or product, and he goes into detail on how the most recent IYCA product was created.

The new IYCA book Principles of Athletic Strength & Conditioning took over a year to complete, but now that it’s available, it is definitely making a difference in the youth training industry.  With 17 outstanding professionals contributing to the project, PASC is one of the most comprehensive textbooks available on training athletes.  Getting to the point where the book could actually be offered to the public was a lengthy process that a lot of people can learn from.

Listen to Jim talk about the idea formation process, content decisions, author selection and coordination, editing, design/layout, printing, fulfillment, promotion, launch, distribution and all of the things that happen behind the scenes to make a book available online.

Whether you have a book or product idea or simply want to learn about the process involved in a product launch, this episode will open your eyes to the entire process.  Hopefully, this takes some of the mystery out of the process and encourages you to move forward with you big idea.

If you haven’t gotten a copy of Principles of Athletic Conditioning yet, click on the link or the image of the book above.

To listen to this episode of The Impact Show, click on the player below or listen on iTunes at The Impact Show Episode 39 – How to Write a Book or Launch a Product.


4 Simple Strategies to Increase the Value of Your Programs – Brett Klika

“Little Timmy loves working with you, but this guy comes to the park right next to our house.  He played some college baseball, so he knows strength and conditioning stuff.”

As passionate, knowledgeable, and experienced youth performance coaches, we’ve all heard the old “right by our house” dodge.  Regardless of our resume of experience and parents’ quest for the best for their child, very few aspects of a program can beat convenience.

Heck, the selection for my 3-year old daughter’s Saturday dance class was based on a Google map search of “Dance studios near 92131”.  I’m pretty sure her teacher knows about dance.  She wears very dance-like clothing and says very dance-like things. 

Notice however, I said very few things can beat convenience.  To quote Lloyd Christmas from the movie Dumb and Dumber, “So you’re saying there’s a chance…”.  While short drives and minimally impacted daily schedules are powerful motivators for parents, the degree to which they value a program is the ultimate decider in how long they will have their child participate.

Convenience has a high value in everyone’s life.  If parents value two programs roughly the same, the most convenient one is the one they will choose.  The question then becomes, how do we make the value of our program stand out to parents?

In my near twenty years of experience directing extremely successful youth performance camps, I’ve discovered there are four distinct opportunities we have as youth performance specialists to establish a unique value to parents that can actually trump the convenience card. These opportunities lie within each time we work with a child, and can be thought of as the 4 “E’s” of creating value in a program.

  • When kids Enter your program daily
  • When they Exercise
  • When they Exit your program daily
  • When you Extend your influence in their lives

When kids Enter your program

For young children, parents are dropping them off to train with you.  They are observing everything from the time their child leaves the car.  This is put in the mental value bank.

Never be late.  If you are at a field, arrive extremely early and be set up prior to parents arriving. If you are at a facility, end your sessions in a timely manner so you can begin sessions on time.  Parents notice the clock and relate this to a time/money value proposition.

This should go without saying, but greet the child by name. If there is a front desk staff, they should be expected to learn names as well. All coaches in a facility should be encouraged to learn names.  Parents should feel like they are dropping children off with a family.  Families call each other by name.

Greeting is also a time for life skills.  A firm, eye-contact handshake should be taught and expected as part of the program.  Right away, parents see you are teaching skills larger than fitness.

Engage them immediately with activity.  Even if they are early, parents see an idle child as the devil’s playground.  Part of your program should offer responsibilities and expectations for what children should do when they arrive.  This could be a few simple stretches or foam roll exercises posted on the wall.  It could be an on-going “high score” challenge (balance, hand-eye coordination, jump rope) they are working on.  They may have a folder where they write down everything they’d eaten that day.

Whatever it is, it should be simple, independent, and consistent.

Consider what you currently do when kids show up to your program.  How could you add value to this?

When Kids Exercise

We can lecture parents all day on our youth training dogmas, but at the end of the day, parents want to see kids sweating, smiling, and getting smarter.  It is important, however, that parents understand what we are trying to accomplish with their child.

Educate parents on the purpose of the program.  Extremely short (less than a page), concise (bulleted), and consistent (once per week or month) send-homes or emails help keep them in the loop.  If you can include any sort of general celebrity endorsement for your approach (links to interviews, articles, etc.) it immediately increases your credibility.

There’s a stark value difference between “Coach Tony believes in LTAD” and “I just watched an interview by Steve Nash talking about the importance of multi-sport participation and long- term development with young athletes. Coach Tony is right.”  Knowing your parents and who’s opinion they value is important.

Parents are suckers for gimmicks. “I saw this guy using a Vertimax with a 7-year-old at basketball practice, so why aren’t you doing that?”  While educating parents, try to beat them to the punch with gimmicks and fads.  Other local guy crushing athletes with 60 minutes of plyos? How about a short, layman’s terms article (not bashing, just educating) on safe plyos for kids?

Make sure parents see where their money is going. If parents aren’t at a training session, make sure they are getting video clips of their child training. These can be short clips texted from a mobile device.  For groups, sending home a monthly newsletter with a short video training montage works to let the parents know what’s happening when they are not there.

When it comes to programming, obviously, make sure you are on point.  Follow a logical progression, be involved, and offer consistent feedback.  Remember however, that parents want to see their kids sweating, smiling, and getting smarter.  Integrate fun and games with serious fundamental skill progressions.  When parents see a child standing around with a silent coach, they don’t see “recovery time.”  They see idle hands.

Remember, regardless of our fanatical, semantic approach to program design, parents only know what they see.

When Kids Exit Your Program

Parents may not stick around for a workout, but they will always have a presence at the very beginning and end of a workout.  These are essential time periods for building unmatched value.

End a session with a simple “take home” that kids can easily remember.  The simpler the concept, the better.  “Work hard” is great, but it’s pretty broad.  “Say thank you when you get to mom and dad because being grateful makes you great” is better.  Follow with a story about a famous athlete being grateful.  Again, this is a bigger life lesson that parents attach a high value to.

These end-of-the-day concepts are also important because, as any parent knows, the most common answer to “what did you do today?” is “uhh, nothing.”  While parents understand this is the norm, any other answer would automatically have a higher value.  Ending the day with a take-home that you ask the kids to share with their parents gives them something to say when they hop into the minivan.

Deliver the child to the parent, even if they are waiting outside. Parents want feedback. While mini-evals are also an important aspect of parental communication, a 10-second discussion about their child goes a long way. If a parent has been educated and believes their child is in the midst of a plan, they are less likely to jump ship.

Extend Your Influence

A parent knows it’s one thing that a child does what they are supposed to when they are with their coach. It’s a whole other level of value when a coach’s words or expectations impact a child’s behavior at home.

Simplify “at home” workouts.  Between school, sports practice, homework, and life, kids are not going to do their at-home work.   However, “Do 10 facing-the-wall squats before you get into bed every night” is something they will do, and parents will help.  It’s short, attainable, and with consistency, can pay big dividends.  Think simple.

Consider impacting behavior outside of exercise.  Parents will place a high value on anything that can ease their parental “pains.”  Getting kids to eat better, help around the house, speak with respect, etc. are constant battles for many parents.  Again, kids may not always grasp broad concepts, but they can perform small actions.

Making very specific small actions part of homework (assigned in front of their parents, and followed up with in front of their parents) becomes part of their expectation for behavior when they are in your program. Something like “be nice to your brother” is too broad. Assigning them, in front of a parent, to “teach their younger sibling something” that evening is better. The next time you see them, “What did you teach your brother/sister to do?” This way, the parent sees they have another ally on their team. They don’t want to lose an ally.

It’s critical to remember that simplicity is good. “Eat a piece of lettuce every night” is hardly a life changing event. However, it’s a snowball that can grow into more. Parents are more likely to get on board with simple things as well!

Help parents solve their most challenging problems!

With these 4 simple value strategies, you can increase your value over “this guy at the park by our house.”  In turn, you have the opportunity to help the kids of today become the happy, healthy, active adults of tomorrow!

6 Steps to Selling Out Your Summer Program – Brett Klika

We introduced Brett Klika to the IYCA community at the last Summit, and he has been incredibly excited about your passion ever since.  He did a fantastic presentation on youth fitness at the Summit, but his hands-on session was even more incredible.  What we also quickly found out about Brett was that he also loves talking about business strategies, just like many others in the IYCA community.  He came to the Sports Performance Business Academy and added tons of value to everyone who attended.  His combination of coaching, making a difference and business strategies are what makes Brett such a great fit for the IYCA and why we had to have him back on The Impact Show to share more of his knowledge.

In this episode, Brett shares his 6 Steps to Selling Out Your Summer Program, which could actually be used at any time of year in any business format.  The 6 Steps include:

  1. Knowing important dates
  2. Understanding your demographics
  3. Listening to the questions you’re being asked most often
  4. Crushing content year-round:  Establish Authority, Create Value & Solve Problems
  5. Being on-point with your administration
  6. How to properly distribute your materials

When you’re done listening to Brett, you’ll have pages of notes, but you’ll probably want even more.  Brett is now offering the IYCA community his virtual mentorship through the 6 Steps plus his 60 Ways to Play Program for just $39.  This is usually a $136 package, but Brett has been so excited about getting involved in the IYCA that he wants everyone to be able to benefit.

The virtual mentorship is basically Brett walking you step-by-step through his plan in much greater detail than he was able to to on the podcast (which was already pretty detailed).  The 60 Ways to Play plan gives you tons of great ideas for working with younger athletes including templates for Guided Discovery and Creative Discovery.

We get a lot of questions about this exact kind of information, and HERE IT IS!  Take advantage of it by going to:

Do yourself a favor and listen to Brett’s advice, then head to his page to pick up the special offer for the IYCA community.

You can also listen on your phone from the iTunes store at


Be sure to subscribe to The Impact Show and please Rate & Review the show to help iTunes know how valuable the show is.

Increase Your Productivity & Avoid Business Mistakes

People interested in making an impact are busy.  It’s important that we increase productivity so we can get a lot done in a limited amount of time.  I’m often asked how I’m able to maintain a high level of productivity, but I wish that I could accomplish even more each day.  I truly believe that productive people always feel that way.  Many of the most productive people I know constantly talk about how they wish they had more hours in the day.  They are always interested in getting more done.

Because I’ll never get more hours in the day, I’ve figured out how to maximize my time by using some very simple, yet effective, strategies.  In the first half of this episode, I talk about some of the strategies I’ve learned to apply in my career.

The second half of Ep. 33 includes a familiar guest – Ryan Ketchum – to offer up his thoughts on what he considers the most common business mistakes.  You probably know Ryan as a very efficient businessman, and he always presents ideas in a way that allows you to apply the knowledge.  In this segment, he identifies the most common mistakes he sees in business and teaches you how to avoid them.

If you’d like to increase productivity and avoid business mistakes, you’ll love this episode of The Impact Show – the official podcast of the IYCA.


The IYCA Insiders program offers many more business development ideas, and is an amazing community of professionals working together to make an impact.  Learn more about the IYCA Insiders program.

Brian Sipotz on Getting Started in Sports Performance

Brian SipotzBrian Sipotz is the Owner of Advantage Strength & Conditioning in Ann Arbor, MI and a co-owner of  When his professional hockey career ended, Brian wasn’t sure what was next.  By taking risks, meeting the right people and recognizing opportunities, he has created a growing business for himself and his young family.

Like many young professionals, Brian Sipotz was faced with many decisions as he set up his new business.  Unlike many others, however, he didn’t know how difficult it was going to be, so he moved forward without worrying about many of the things that would have stopped other coaches from pursuing their dreams.

Brian has a great story about getting started that can benefit anyone looking to make a change in their life.  You’ll appreciate his humility, transparency and thought process going into establishing his business.

Listen to Brian’s interview on the Impact Show – the official podcast of the IYCA – on the player below or listen on your phone by downloading the show from iTunes on your Podcast app or through any other podcast app you choose.  Subscribe to the Impact Show to make sure you never miss an episode.

Brian will be presenting at the 2017 IYCA Summit in Detroit, April 27-29.  Registration details will be available soon.

Eric Cressey on Finding Your Niche

Eric Cressey is at the top of the baseball training world.  His company Cressey Performance has become synonymous with high-level baseball training, but it didn’t start out that way.  Early in Eric’s career, he was simply learning about anatomy, physiology and how to train.  Eventually, he had the opportunity to work with baseball players, and over time, he realized that this was his niche.  He loved it.  He was great at it.  And, it was a good market for him.

At this point in his career, and in the grand scheme of the industry, he feels like developing a niche is necessary for long-term success.  “you’re going see more examples of people specializing.  For example Jim Kielbaso is working with football guys, Mike Boyle is working with hockey, Mike Robertson is working with soccer – that’s the direction I see this going” said Cressey in a recent interview.

“With that said, it’s really, really hard to force these things because there are a lot of things you have to realize. You have to realize it’s important to beeric-cressey-3 passionate about something beyond just monetary gains. As an example, I did a little bit of NBA combine prep towards the end of my U-Conn experience, so I had some time in it.  When I got into the baseball world, what basically happens is you’re swamped from the second week in September all the way up until the first week in March. And then you have six weeks to gather your thoughts before you start going with your summer guys.  It’s a tough schedule.  So I’ve had some agents who represent baseball players as well as basketball players and football guys, and they’ve asked me if I’d be interested in doing NBA combine or NFL combine prep.  While it sounds great, that would be walking away from the four weeks of quiet that I get each year. You have to be passionate about it but you have to be passionate about it beyond just monetary gains because if I try to be everything to everybody, it doesn’t work. Our baseball guys appreciate us even more because they don’t see a bunch of 350 pound offensive linemen walking around, and I don’t look like a guy who’s going to play linebacker in the NFL, so you have to be able to want it for more than just money.”

That’s advice anyone in the training world can listen to, because sustaining passion is hard work.  It takes something deep inside to keep going day after day, even when things are perfect.

“You can’t be a 110% on everything. Nobody can read all the journal articles on something like pitching injuries and everything that goes into that, and also know everything about the NFL or the NHL or youth training. I think you have to find something you really like and you’re also really good at. For example,  shoulders and elbows can be really, really complex. I’m a very good shoulder and elbow guy. I’m terrible when it comes to foot and ankle. I probably wouldn’t be a good foot and ankle physical therapist. So, you have to be able to acquire the information easily to really take over a niche.”

Eric also realizes that there’s more to things that just “wanting it” or being good at something.

“It also has to be substantial or sustainable. You’re probably not going have an incredible hockey development program in Mexico, you know? People have to realize that as well. That was something that we wrestled with for a long time.  We weren’t sure if we could build this baseball training mecca in Hudson, Massachusetts. We didn’t really know whether that’d be possible. We had to test the waters.  Eventually, high school guys became college guys, and college guys became pro guys, and then we ultimately decided we could expand our reach by opening another facility in Florida. Your business model has to be able to accommodate whatever you’re trying to do.”

You also have to make the environment friendly to the group you’re trying to attract.  One step into Cressey Performance and you know it’s all about baseball.

eric-cressey-facility“It’s hard to really grow a specific niche if you can’t outfit your facility to accommodate it. When you walk in our facility in Massachusetts, we’ve got two big tunnels for pitching and throwing and now doing video, and stuff like that makes a big difference. If we didn’t have that it would be harder to cater to baseball players.”

There’s also something to be said for being the first at anything.

“It’s also really hard if you’re not one of the first to market. We were probably the first people to be really specific in baseball strength and conditioning. We effectively bridge the gap between rehab and high performance. That’s what you need for baseball and we did it first in our area, so it’s really hard to compete with us if someone wants us to come to Massachusetts and start training baseball players.  It’s a challenge because we’re very well-connected in that area.  If you have an elbow issue we can get you in with an elbow specialist that afternoon. We know who the best physical therapists are. You know we can get guys passes at Fenway before a Red Sox game.  We can deliver a quality experience that goes with the expertise, and while they’re here, chances are they’re rubbing elbow with other big league baseball player in the office. So, from a business standpoint, it’s very, very hard to compete with us in the baseball niche because we were one of the first to market, and we’ve really worked hard to stay on top of things and really nurture that presence nationwide.”HSSC

Eric is a co-author of the IYCA High School Strength & Conditioning Certification – the only certification focused specifically on training high school aged athletes.  Read another article by Eric Cressey on Youth Training.

A Message from Dave Jack

Dave Jack’s Powerful Message

If you feel compelled to work with kids, you need to watch this! In this powerful message, Dave Jack explains just why our kids need you. You have the power and ability to change lives and speak LIFE into our youth…see what he has to say.

About Dave Jack

Dave Jack 1Dave has been in the industry for nearly 15 years and has worked with top professional athletes and teams throughout the National Football League, Major League Baseball and more. His vision is to inspire people to live healthy lives and provide them with tools to do so.

In addition to being the Fitness & Wellness Director of TeamWorks Fitness in Acton, MA, Dave is a national advisor and consultant for brands like Reebok, Rodale, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Prevention and NBA All-Star Paul Pierce’s Truth on Health Foundation.

Dave is also a National Level Speaker on Sports Performance, Fitness and Wellness and Co-founder of “Sports and Life,” a wellness curriculum for schools.

Check Out the IYCA Store!

If you are ready to take the leap into youth fitness and be a part of the IYCA team, check out our STORE today!

What Makes a Successful Program – Build a Community

Build a Community to Have a Successful Program

If you want to have amazing success in this industry, it’s all about having the best, most technically sound programming available to you, right?


Take a look at some of the most successful performance training programs. Is each and every single one stellar in their program design, implementation, progressions/regressions, periodization, etc.? Not necessarily.

So what made the program outstanding in developing high performing athletes? It’s quite simple.

It’s all about building a community.

note-881421_640To us, a community is defined as a welcoming, positive training environment that includes supportive coaches and teammates. The community pushes and encourages each other.

Building a community takes effort, that is for sure. But if you have a passion and desire to make your athletes better, you are off to a great start.

I recently had the opportunity to watch IYCA contributors Adam Feit and Bobby Smith present at a clinic. They own an athlete-based training facility in New Jersey, and their energy was incredible – they engaged every athlete/coach in attendance. It didn’t matter if you were participating in the demos or not.

Think back to when you were an athlete and had a coach. Did the ones who spoke to you in monotone and went through the motions make an impact on you? Or was it the ones who engaged with you, high-fived you, and injected energy into the practices or training sessions? My guess is the coach with energy had a much greater impact on you.

Pro Tip: When you can inject YOUR energy into the athlete’s training sessions, they recognize it. They will FEED off of it! That energy starts to resonate, creating a culture that is palpable. Athletes will be excited to train, won’t want to leave, and you will have to tell them when to stop more often than you will have to push them to go!

Once you have that enthusiasm for training, you can build a community.

Here Are 3 Simple Tips to Build a Better Community in Your Program

Tip #1: Swag Up!

Athletes love to wear gear from their teams and places where they train, so give it to them! We just integrated a new process where our athletes advance through a tier system.

Each time they go through our performance testing, they have an opportunity to achieve a new level. Each level has a colored shirt they receive after achieving said level. When they go to school, they sport their swag and brag to their other friends, while also showing it off to athletes we may not train yet.

It’s like we sponsored a race car driver or golfer. They wear our gear that they earned, and when they dominate in their sport, everyone knows why.

Tip #2: Watch Them Play!

This is no joke. Every time I have gone to a game to watch one or more of our athletes, they exclaim, “Wow, that’s really cool you came out to watch. No one has ever done that before.”

We are all busy, I understand. I am no exception to being busy. I do not make every single game for all of my athletes. But I make a concerted effort to catch one, maybe two games a season, particularly big rivalry games or important ones.

Plus, seeing them play helps you as a coach. You can see what things carried over to the sport and what things broke down for your athlete that can be focal points in upcoming training blocks.

Afterwards, you have something to chat with the athlete about and connect with them on a deeper level. Remember, you are a COACH, not a trainer.

Tip #3: Create a Performance Team!

The best athletes in the world have a team of people helping them out. You can do the same for your athlete.

The team may consist of:

  • Parent(s)
  • Coaches
  • Health Practitioners (includes ATs)
  • Athlete

Don’t hesitate to reach out to parents if you feel athletes drifting and lacking focus in the gym. And, ALWAYS let parents know when their athlete has done something particularly outstanding.

Sport coaches can be difficult at times. They think you are trying to steal their athletes. It’s your job to reach out the olive branch and let them know it is your objective to make the athlete better for their sport.

In the very least, ask the coach what things they see need work, and then revisit after some training to see if the coach has seen improvement. If possible, take them out for coffee and have an actual conversation with them so they see you as part of the team, not enemy #1.

Healthcare practitioners and ATs need to have a great relationship with you, your athlete, the athlete’s coaches, and their parents. Befriend them and refer as often as you can. They help keep your athlete training with you and with the team, helping them perform better. They also save your butt from time to time when an athlete presents with something out of your scope of practice.

When you add a solid relationship with your athlete, you have a top tier team, and a community for your athlete to thrive!

Creating a Community Starts With You

Once you have a culture of excellence and engagement from your athletes, making them earn some swag, attending their games, and creating a performance team will have a profound effect on the community, and thus, the success of your program.

Want to read more from Coach Jared? Check out his last blog on Standardization.

ADAPT and Conquer,
Coach Jared

Looking for ways to inject a little fun into your programs and keep your athletes engaged?  Check out the IYCA’s Game Play Performance program created by Dave Jack and Dave Gleason.

About the Author: Jared Markiewicz

JarredJared is founder of Functional Integrated Training (F.I.T.). F.I.T. is a performance-based training facility located in Madison, WI. They specialize in training athletes of all levels: everyday adults, competitive adults and youth ages 5-20+.

The long-term vision for F.I.T. is recognition as the training facility for those desiring to compete at the collegiate level in the state of Wisconsin. Alongside that, to also develop a platform to educate those in our industry looking to make strides towards improving the future for our young athletes.

Find out more about Jared’s gym by visiting F.I.T.




3 Reasons To Become A Youth Fitness Specialist

Reasons To Become A Youth Fitness Specialist

youth trainingAt the International Youth Conditioning Association we are proud of the fact that we provide education for coaches and trainers just like you.

It is important to us to provide research-based information coupled with practical application.

Our Youth Fitness Specialist Certification does that, and there are many reasons that being a Youth Fitness Specialist can be a benefit to you and the athletes/kids you work with. Here are just a few:

Reason #1: A Youth Fitness Specialist is Confident

Working with young kids can be challenging, from programming to exercise selection and timing, there is a lot to know.

Training kids like “mini adults” is simply unacceptable. This is why it is important for the Youth Fitness Specialist to know all the details on working with kids during crucial developmental phases to provide them with the optimal training.

Confidence is reflected in the quality of the programs and presentations as a coach. The Youth Fitness Specialist knows how to coach each athlete as an individual, even in a group/team setting. They can provide customized experiences and build long lasting relationships with clients based on research and practical application.

The Youth Fitness Specialist can be confident in getting results.

Reason #2: A Youth Fitness Specialist is Marketable – Be the Go-To Coach

Look around your community, do you know any Youth Fitness Specialists? It’s likely that there are very few that specialize with kids. Specializing can differentiate you from other coaches and trainers in the area.

Of course, becoming the go-to trainer takes a lot more than a certification, but becoming a Youth Fitness Specialist will give you the tools and resources to prove just why you ARE the go-to trainer in your area.

Use the credential to expand your programming, coach athletes in the way they need to be coached and build a network of trusting clients.

Reason #3: A Youth Fitness Specialist Can Educate Others

Probably the most important thing you can be when working with kids is a “student”. Simply put, coaches should never stop learning.

One of the greatest benefits of becoming a Youth Fitness Specialist (or in educating yourself on any topic), is that you can educate others. Answering the “whys” of youth fitness and performance is an important component of any coach’s job.

Educate yourself so you can educate others.

Julie Hatfield

Want to Become a Youth Fitness Specialist?

Become a Youth Fitness Specialist today for $100 OFF.

Learn More


3 Easy Ways to Grow Your Fitness Business this Summer

Growing Your Business this Summer

Step outside and take a deep breath…hopefully you are getting the first sniff of that summer air. Then it hits you. This is the time of year where all craziness breaks loose.

You know what I mean. Routines are on the brink of being completely thrown out of the window and your beach-going clients and vacation craving kids leave your facility, making it look like a ghost town. Or maybe it is quite the opposite.

Either way, this time of year is a time of opportunity and growth for any performance trainer.

3 Easy Ways to Grow Your Business this Summer

Option #1: Host a Summer Camp

friends-1084598_640Now this one may seem obvious, but I wanted to throw it out there.

Hosting a summer camp is a great way to keep your programs exciting. It isn’t out of the question to earn $10k+ in a week of summer camps, if done right.

Check out our Camp & Clinic Checklist to get started today.

Option #2: Be a Guest at a Summer Camp

This is a favorite. Guest speaking and attending summer camps in your area not only builds relationships, but it is a networking opportunity that can’t be turned down.

You don’t have to recreate the wheel. Be a guest at a sport-specific camp and provide them with a multi-sport training approach. It is a Win-Win for all!

Pro Tip: Start researching local camps now!


Option #3: Host an Event

Hosting your own event is a great way to get the old and the new through your doors. Think outside of the box:

  • A summer camp or clinic
  • Take a trip with your athletes
  • Bring in special guests
  • Host a day of fun that will provide parents with a day that they don’t have to worry about childcare

Walt Disney once said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” 

No matter which option you may choose (one of the above or something else!), try something new this summer to grow your fitness business.

Want to Minimize the Work in Planning for Camps and Clinics?

Some people may enjoy the novice approach of figuring out on their own, and that’s ok! But if you want a tried-and-true system for planning a camp or clinic, download our FREE Camp & Clinic Checklist today to help you get started.

Download FREE Checklist

The Fastest Way to Get Quality Leads

We are all looking for ways to get new leads.

Look around, the people in your sessions are your greatest fans, they believe in you and what you do. They may even be, your ideal client. They should be. What if you could have more people just like them?

Is there any client that you would want to clone? Remember— it isn’t just about the kids here, it is about the parents too. How do you get great parents, great kids and long time customers that believe what you do, walking through your door?

Leverage the people you already have to find more leads like them. Here is this process broken down into steps.

Identify 10 Ideal Clients

Identify 10 of your Ideal Clients, these are the parents & kids who believe in what you do, they are walking-talking billboards. They may be other coaches, parents, or staff members. Write down these 10.

Schedule a Meeting

Block off time to spend with each of these clients. It shouldn’t take more than 15-20 minutes, but it needs to be private. It can be either on the phone or in person. Tell them in advance what the conversation is about.

“Hey (NAME) I was wondering if I could speak with you for about 10 minutes later today or this week?  You are such a great client and member that I wanted to pick your brain a little bit about what we are doing here, but also if you had any recommendations of who would be a good fit for our (Gym/Facility/Family atmosphere)”

Note: If they say yes, schedule the time. If they say no, make a note of it.

Ask & Be Transparent

This is the most critical step.

It is as simple as asking. Be completely transparent about what you are trying to do.

Here is a script for you to tweak :

“Hey __(Customer Name)___, so I think you and  (Athlete’s Name)  are such a great fit for our business and what we are trying to do here. You have been with us for awhile now and I wanted to know how we can improve and what you think about our values and what we offer”  (Let them talk first. Get their feedback and address it)

“Well, we definitely appreciate your feedback, so please keep it coming”

“Since you are literally our ideal client, and I really wish I could clone you and your family, I was wondering if you could possibly help me out?  We really want to grow our business, but not with just anyone…with people like you…are you interested?”   

“That is great, I was wondering if you could give us 3 names of people who you would love to see in this program with you, or maybe even a coach that you think would be open to what we have to offer” (Client gives you a couple names)

Note: It isn’t essential that you get the referrals contact information in this approach

“Thank you so much, would you be willing to bring them to a session in the next week, completely free?  That is essentially all you would have to do”   (Answer: Yes)

Note: A new lead could possibly bale on you the first time, but likely won’t bale on a friend- try to get them to come together for the first time

“You are the best, I will follow up with you in a couple days if I haven’t heard anything (Promotes accountability)– but I really appreciate your effort in this, and the great part is, when your friends come in we will do the rest of the work. If one of them (Purchase/join/etc) we will give you a gift for your hard work every time”   

Note: A gift isn’t essential, but if you are going to give one, you need to know what it is in advance and pay it EVERY TIME

Follow Up

This is a critical component of every referral program, and many ‘drop the ball’ here. Schedule a time to follow up with this client. It can be days later, but no more than a week. If you haven’t seen their referrals in your sessions,  it is now good to ask for contact information.

This process is just that, a process. Write it down and document it for months and years to come.

Do you have a referral strategy that rocks?  

Share it with us on our Facebook Page!

Author: Julie Hatfield

Julie Hatfield (1)Julie is the Executive Director of the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA). She grew up as an athlete and played collegiate softball at Juniata College. She currently owns and operates her own youth fitness business pouring into young athletes. Her areas of expertise are youth sport performance, youth fitness business and softball training/instruction. Julie grew up on a dairy farm and can challenge the best of the best in a cow-milking contest. 😉

Pushing Power in Athletics

Power in Athletics

When it comes to developing the ability to push someone around, a skill necessary for almost every team-based sport, there isn’t a better training tool than the push up.

I’m sure there are plenty of 5/3/1, Bigger Stronger Faster, or other weight room guys that will argue a big bench trumps someone who can crank out a bunch of push ups any day.

That’s when I refer to the great Earl Campbell and Herschel Walker, two incredibly successful and punishing running backs in the NFL, who reportedly were body weight training guys. They swore by push ups and body weight exercises and clearly had no problem pushing around the best in the world over and over.

Additionally, you have to look at the population of athletes in front of you. We have mostly late middle school or high school age kids who have a low training age and lack the ability to activate their entire body. The push up and its progressions give us an opportunity to teach that skill to our athletes.

More importantly, a girl that can crank out 10 full push ups and a boy that can knock out 25, in our experience, has a body well-prepared for sport and the contact typical of most team sports.

Finally, from a biomechanical standpoint, I look at the push up and see the direct correlation to pushing necessary for sport. The body stabilizes on the ground with four contact points, but the majority of the body MUST be active when pushing away from the ground. Otherwise, we might as well be doing the worm.

That pattern very closely resembles an athlete pushing someone on a field or court, with two legs on the ground and the entire body activated.

Conversely, when assessing the mechanics of a bench press, the back, glutes, and (sometimes) thighs are in contact with a stable surface. I don’t know of a situation in team sports where that much of the body comes in contact with a surface while pushing. The exception, of course, is being on the bottom of a pile of players after a tackle and pushing someone off you, which is not ideal for high performing athletes.

So let’s take a look at our progressions to get a young athlete crushing push ups on a regular basis!


Plank on elbows/hands

When doing a plank on the elbows or hands we are looking for rigidity of the entire body and will use various cues to teach each body part how to activate optimally:

  1. Active legs (straight as an arrow)
  2. Glutes (squeeze a quarter between the cheeks)
  3. Trunk (brace like someone is going to punch your gut)
  4. Shoulders (envision a towel between the elbows or hands and try to rip it apart)

The plank requires a lot of focus and should be difficult to hold for a long time. Therefore, we find it much more beneficial to teach athletes a plank by having them fire everything for brief periods (10-20 seconds) rather than hanging out in a plank for a minute with just enough activation to make it look good.

Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers, in our world, don’t differ greatly from a plank. The only difference here is that the athlete now must learn to stabilize in a dynamic setting.

By only moving one leg at a time, they get the chance to maintain full body bracing, like the plank, while actively driving the knee towards the trunk.  Here, the athlete must be on his or her hands. Thus we implement a new cue, “push the ground away.”

By using that cue, the athlete now aggressively pushes his or her body away from the ground, giving the leg more room to move and activate the scapular stabilizers that are generally very weak and assist in poor posture with young athletes.

We also ask athletes to “torque the ground” with the intent of turning the hands away from each other. The hands shouldn’t move, but when torquing occurs, the arms become more active and better prepared for a push up later on in the progressions.

Once an athlete shows quality movement with the mountain climber, we will have him or her start to move the leg with aggression while stopping it at 90 degrees to the body. The exercise then turns into an excellent front leg drive drill for acceleration training.

Assisted Push Ups

We use two main variations of the standard push up to help young athletes progress towards completing a push up that is repeatable and consistent through fatigue.

Our first and most common assisted push up is completed via the use of a resistance band attached to the athlete’s body and a point well above the athlete’s body (typically 7-9 feet high on a rig or hook).

There are some significant benefits to this variation. First, the movement is quite similar to an unassisted push up from the ground. Second, the athlete can torque the ground with his or her hands and arms like we cue during an actual push up.

Once an athlete has developed sufficient assisted pushup strength and can perform the movement without the band, there is almost no adjustment necessary for a body weight push up.

There are, of course, limitations to any assisted pattern.

First, the core is supported during the assisted pushup and for many of our athletes who are stuck in anterior tilt, core strength is the limiting factor and sometimes allows them to continue doing the worm instead of a push up once the band is removed.

Second, we often miss full range of motion (ROM) with our younger athletes, particularly boys. They want to crank out 20 push ups because, “that’s what I did when I tested for football!” However, the only way their chest would touch the ground with their “testing push ups” would be if they had a 60-inch chest. And I have yet to see a 16-year-old that looks like Lou Ferrigno.

**We started using bean bags (like the ones used for bean bag toss) to force full ROM. Our athletes need to touch their chest to two bean bags stacked on top of each other and then progress to one bag before we take the band away and have them train the full push up. **

The other variation we use is an elevated barbell on a rack.

Again, there are both positives and negatives to this assisted push up variation.

First, it is great for younger female athletes who truly lack upper body strength. They can see gradual improvements in strength since the holes on our rack are 1-inch apart. They can make small gains, sometimes within a singular training session, and certainly over a 6-week training program.

Second, because of the height, those athletes who lack upper body strength can start to make significant gains in chest, shoulder, and arm strength since they don’t have to struggle through the pattern and can truly focus on form, positioning, and muscle tension.

But this variation also leads to some potential issues of which coaches need to be aware.

First, due to the angle the athlete is at, the shoulders tend to elevate once the chest and arms have fatigued. So you either need to stop the set before that point or cue the athlete’s “shoulders away from their ears.”

Second, since the hands are on the bar, not on the ground, torquing is nearly impossible. I am not going to lie to you and say I haven’t seen it done, but generally those just learning a push up can’t start pulling apart a bar plus do all the other things they need to do correctly.

Remember, this isn’t our end all, be all. Instead, it is a stepping stone from a mountain climber to a full push up from the floor.

Push Ups

The push up is our end all, be all. I fully believe an athlete does not need to train bench press unless they are required to test for their sport. For the sports required to test the bench, like football, there is enough contact and pushing involved in practice and play that it justifies working the bench press into programming.

However, no matter how advanced our athlete is starting out, I want to PERSONALLY see them do ten perfect push ups before they put their face under a bar and start benching.  All too often we have athletes come in who bench and are stuck at a certain weight.

When they show me their push up, it’s evident they lack the full body activation necessary to do a push-up. Once we train the push up correctly, they go back to the bench and magically set a new personal best.

The things we coach in a quality push up stay consistent with everything taught in the previous movements, but we add additional cues to maximize pushing power.

  1. Create rigidity through the body (body is one long piece of solid oak)
  2. Torque the ground through the hands (rotate the hands away from one another)
  3. Pull the body to the floor (rip the ground apart to give the chest space)
  4. Push down as your body comes up (push the ground away)

Once an athlete shows the ability to accomplish this and get his or her chest to the ground for a reasonable amount of push ups, we may add resistance in the form of plates on the athletes back. We had some strong male athletes rep out ten push ups with 90+ pounds on their back, so if you don’t think you can overload the push up, you’re wrong!

By taking the proper steps in progressing a young athlete through the push up, you will create a powerful, stable athlete capable of pushing around anyone he or she chooses.

And when the athlete returns to his or her team and can crush all teammates in push ups, they walk a little taller. When we as coaches can create confidence like that, we win!

ADAPT and Conquer,
Coach Jared

About the Author: Jared Markiewicz

JarredJared is founder of Functional Integrated Training (F.I.T.). F.I.T. is a performance-based training facility located in Madison, WI. They specialize in training athletes of all levels: everyday adults, competitive adults and youth ages 5-20+.

The long-term vision for F.I.T. is recognition as the training facility for those desiring to compete at the collegiate level in the state of Wisconsin. Alongside that, to also develop a platform to educate those in our industry looking to make strides towards improving the future for our young athletes.

Find out more about Jared’s gym by visiting F.I.T.

Career Highlights

  • 2014 Fitness Entrepreneur of the Year – Fitness Business Insiders
  • 2014 IYCA Coach of the Year Finalist
  • Volunteer Strength Coach for West Madison Boys Hockey and Westside Boys Lacrosse
  • Helped develop dozens of scholarship athletes in 3 years of business
  • Instructed Kinesiology Lab at UW-Madison
  • Houses an internship program at F.I.T. that started in 2013
  • Member of Elite Mastermind Group of Nationwide Fitness Business Owners

Push Ups Help Develop Powerful Athletes:

Learn more power evolution techniques today.



Overworked and Underpaid

Overworked, Underpaid and…Exhausted?

If you are reading this, it’s fair to assume it is because you answered “yes” to at least one part of that question.

Let’s be honest here, most of us feel this way at some point or another, no matter what industry you’ve worked in.

Many sport performance coaches spend countless hours planning, preparing and delivering, only to fall short on financial performance and feel exhausted. After all, we wake up before the sun, and go to bed just before it rises again…right?   

tired-418902_640If you are like most performance coaches, passion got you started—persistence keeps you going—and pride keeps you from quitting when the going gets tough. If you are feeling that you are 

overworked, underpaid and exhausted…well, the going has gotten tough.

What to do?

Take a few steps back, and figure out how you can turn your youth fitness business into a lucrative and successful place…afterall…the world NEEDS you!

Here are 3 Ways to avoid burnout as a performance coach:

Take a 30,000 foot view, quarterly:

Sometimes we can’t see what is really going on inside our businesses until we remove ourselves.  It isn’t always physically possible, but what if you could look at your business from the outside…

… what would you see? Would you like it? What wouldn’t you like? Is it what you envisioned when you started? Would you come into your own gym as a client, and why?

These questions serve to spark your curiosity, knowing what your business is really about is probably the most important thing you can do when it comes to being lucrative.

If you lose sight of your vision, your dream and the reason you started in the first place, likely that passion will fade and so will your business.

Know your numbers, monthly:

Many youth fitness business owners hate showing their numbers.  Knowing your numbers is a sure-fire way to gain insight into your business.

Numbers you have to know:office-620822_640

  • Gross Revenue
  • Expenses
  • Profit Margin
  • Leads
  • Clients Lost

There are more than these, but this is a good start.   Do you know these answers? If you don’t, you need to. If you want to make money, you have to know what is coming in and going out.

Don’t have “time” to track them, then keep ignoring them and the result (likely not the one that you or I want for you) will come, or acknowledge them and have the power to create solutions and change the course…and WIN!

It is that simple. Numbers tell the story, get to know your business’s story!

Work ON the business, not IN the business, weekly:

Performance coaches are good at coaching…we are not always businessmen and businesswomen.  Overlooking critical aspects of our business, like sales/marketing, setting goals, our numbers, strategies and systems, etc. can destroy a business.

By working ON your business, you focus on the strategies and systems that optimize your performance.  Spend an hour or two every week (or a timeframe that works for you), focusing on your business.

What to think about?

  • Strategies
  • Systems
  • Priorities
  • What is working
  • What is not working

If you are only working IN the business, you have blinders on to most of these things. You may know them, but they get forgotten. Don’t let that happen…it’s a good way to burn out.

Written By:

IYCA-newsletter-julie sig-v1 (1)



IYCA– Executive Director
Fitness Business Owner

Program design can require a lot of time.

Here is a free video and PDF resource for you to help save you some time (and energy) on program design for long-term athletic development.


Running Your Own Coaches’ Speed & Agility Clinic

As a coach and trainer, I spent years looking for ways to educate more athletes, more coaches and more parents. As my business grew, so did my reputation for being a softball coach and youth fitness specialist. Proof came in the results: athletes running faster and quicker and ultimately feeling stronger and confident.

It wasn’t long before I knew that I had to take my game to the next level and start educating the coaches of my athletes. After all, their athletes were only with me one or two times per week, but were with their coaches for 3-5 times per week. Sport coaches spend hours with their athletes, so why not join forces?

I found that my annual coaches’ clinic became a great forum to do this. Not only was it my direct link to hundreds of athletes (for every one coach there are 10-20 athletes connected to them) but it was also a way to bridge the gap between coaches and trainers.

We now work together for one common purpose: to give the most and the best for the athletes that walk into our programs.

Types of Speed Clinics

In this post, I want to talk about the two different kinds of speed clinics that you can host as well as when, where and how to go about getting your first coaches’ clinic underway. Essentially, I want to give you my coaches’ clinic template.

High school summer conditioning program - Coaches' ClinicThere are many different kinds of clinics beyond these, but this is what I will touch on today.

1. Speed & Agility Clinic
2. Speed & Skills (Combination Clinic)

Personally, #2 has always been my choice, but #1 is effective as well. If you do know skills of a particular sport, you can usually play to that strength and draw more coaches. Here are some steps when setting up your own coaches’ clinic:

Determine What Kind of Clinic You Will Have

What Will You Cover in Your Clinic?

– Speed? Skills? Drills?
– Sport Specific? General?
– Olympic Lifting? Lifting Mechanics, etc?

Figure out where your strengths and knowledge are, and play to those. If you are an excellent baseball coach and know how to teach skills and speed, build your clinic around those two aspects. Coaches love sport specificity.

Naming Your Coaches’ Clinic

When marketing your clinic, you want to be able to relate the name of your clinic to your market. When naming your own coaches’ clinic, think simple. Here are some suggestions:

1. Game Speed Coaches’ Clinic
2. [Insert Sport] Coaches’ Clinic
3. Speed & Agility Coaches’ Clinic
4. Making Athletes Faster Coaches’ Clinic
5. Strength, Power and Quicker [Insert Sport] Coaches’ Clinic

Try to include a few things that play on the “needs” of your target market. For example, if you have softball athletes – “Increasing your athletes’ hitting power” plays to an aspect of the sport that all coaches want to coach to. Ask yourself, what does your target market want?

Picking a Date/Time for Your Coaches’ Clinic

clock - Coaches' ClinicWhen setting the specifics of your coaches’ clinic, remember that these are adults, not kids.

Many meetings for them occur between 7pm-9pm M-Th, so focus on those times. Providing a two or three week-long clinic is also valuable and can allow you to cover topics each session.

Be sure that you pick a day of the week that is not a holiday. Plan for at least two months of marketing for this clinic.

Duration of Your Coaches’ Clinic

2 hours. Again, if you have more content to cover, do it over a couple weeks, rather than a 4 hour clinic.

Rate of Your Coaches’ Clinic

Generally $10-$20 per hour for clinics is a good rate.

Example Details for Flyer/Email

So, you have decided on all of these things, here is an example of what it would look like:

Sport Specific Flyer/Email

Title: Softball Speed, Skills & Drills Coaches’ Clinic

Time: 7-9pm, Mondays in February (4 Days, 8 Hours of Coaching Instruction)

Location: Add your facility location name

Rate: $80.00 per coach/parent

Student Rate: (14+ athletes): $15.00 per athlete


Speed Only Flyer/Email

Title: Game Speed Coaches’ Clinic

Time: 7-9pm Tuesday January 13th

Location: Add your facility location name

Rate: $30.00 per coach/parent

Student Rate: (14+ athletes): $15.00 per athlete


Marketing Your Own Coaches’ Clinic

Now that you have the details of your clinic, it is time to start marketing your clinic. There are a number of ways to market your own coaches’ clinic:

Work With Multiple Local Recreation Teams

In this situation, if you connect with the president or director of the organization, you can offer organizational rates. In many cases, different leagues promote learning and education, so if that director feels that their coaches can benefit from your clinic, they may just do the marketing for you.

If you have a parent of an athlete that plays in an organization, this is one of the best ways to leverage your efforts.

Email Your List

Allow all customers 14+ to join, this includes parents. Many parents just want education on this, so do not limit your clinics to coaches only. Open the door to athletes, parents, and coaches. Again, this helps bridge the gap.

Create a Press Release

Reach out to your local media channels, including local newspapers, television stations, and any other outlets that can possibly grab this story and run with it.

Offer Group & Early Bird Discounts

The great thing about this is that there are a number of ways to offer discounts. If a league brings multiple coaches, they can get a discount. Early bird discounts are possible, too. This will help you determine your baseline, as well.

Be creative here. Give incentives (especially for your first clinic). Once you get them in the door, then you can work your magic.

Structuring Your Coaches’ Clinic

clipboardThey walked through your door.

Whatever way it happened, you now have coaches sitting in front of you, waiting and willing to learn.

What do you teach them?

Well, that is up to you, but this is the template that I suggest.

Remember to keep it interactive. Get them up and get them moving. Coaches need to “feel it” to “get it,” too.

Template 1: Speed-Focused

1. Introduction and Overview of Clinic and Your Business (10 Minutes)

2. Prepare to Move by Moving to Prepare (10-20 Minutes)

  • Perform and teach a thorough team warm-up (let coaches participate).
  • Allow for Q & A during this time.

3. Foundations of Speed (10 Minutes)

  • Discuss the importance of mobility, range of motion, etc.

4. Mechanics of Speed (10 Minutes)

  • Break the mechanics of speed down in this section. Take them through drills, as if you are first teaching your athletes about the mechanics.
  • Have attendees do it/feel it.

5. Speed Drills (Pick your #) (60 Minutes of Content)

  • Name it.
  • Demonstrate it.
  • Break it down and teach it.
  • Have attendees perform it.
  • Show 1 or 2 variations.
  • Indicate application to different sports (or specific sport that you are doing the clinic for).

Repeat this process for as many speed drills that you would like to cover.

6. Q&A (10 Minutes)

Template 2: Sport/Skills-Focused

1. Introduction and Overview of Your Business (5 Minutes)

2. Prepare to Move by Moving to Prepare (10-20 Minutes)

  • Perform and teach a thorough team warm-up (let coaches participate).
  • Allow for Q & A during this time.

3. Teaching Speed (10 Minutes)

  • Briefly discuss the mechanical breakdown of speed (have attendees do it/feel it). This is foundational to any sport, so allowing your coaches to learn HOW to teach it (focus on cue words and form) is key.

4. Drills & Skills (Pick your #) (75-90 Minutes of Content)

  • Name it.
  • Demonstrate it.
  • Break it down and teach it.
  • Have attendees perform it.
  • Show 1 or 2 variations.
  • Indicate application to different sports (or specific sport that you are doing the clinic for).

Repeat this process for as many speed drills that you would like to cover. Allow for Q&A during this time.

5. Q&A (10 Minutes)

These templates can work with almost any coaches’ clinic. Be sure to fill in the blanks with activities, skills and drills that are unique to your facility and business. Give the coaches and parents a “taste of your culture” and I would highly recommend giving them an offer at the end.

In our businesses, it is important to get kids through the door. Offering a team training session, a discount and/or something specific to that clinic will allow you to successfully get more athletes through the doors.


  • Be sure to collect all contact information for your list.
  • Extend a “Thank You for Attending” email after your first clinic.
  • Plan an annual clinic to add consistency and enable time for growth (I have little league directors that expect coaches’ clinics annually).
  • Have your “plan”.
  • Have opportunities for their athletes (make the offer at the clinic).
  • Find what works for you in terms of duration: one day or multi-day clinics are effective.
  • Elicit the help of your young athletes to help demonstrate in real-time.
  • Bring your “A” game to every clinic.

Good luck,
Julie Hatfield

About the Author: Julie Hatfield

Julie Hatfield (1)Julie is the Executive Director of the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA). She grew up as an athlete and played collegiate softball at Juniata College. She currently owns and operates her own youth fitness business pouring into young athletes. Her areas of expertise are youth sport performance, youth fitness business and softball training/instruction. Julie grew up on a dairy farm and can challenge the best of the best in a cow-milking contest. 😉

Want to Develop Speed and Agility in Your Athletes?

If you want to develop speed in your young athletes there is no better resource than the 15 Free Agility Drills. Learn Jim Kielbaso’s secrets to improving your athlete’s coordination, balance and speed.

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3 Fitness Marketing Ideas When Working with Elementary Schools

3 Easy-to-Implement Fitness Marketing Ideas for Working with Elementary Schools

3 fitness marketing ideas when working with elementary schools: over 600 potential clients!

By Nicole Tegeler, MS, Head Coach at Xcel Fitness & Sport Performance

Youth fitness professionals I know often ask themselves, “What fitness marketing ideas for working with elementary schools actually work?” Today, I’m going to provide 3 easy-to-implement programs that can get your foot in the door at local elementary schools, exposing you to hundreds of prospective clients.

BIG IDEA: Do you want to be known as THE youth fitness expert to over 600 potential clients under one roof? This three-step fitness marketing tool will break down the guarded walls at your local schools and help you become exposed to over 600 potential clients!

WHAT: Three fitness marketing programs for youth fitness professionals to use at your local schools with the kids and teachers.

WHY: These marketing programs will help you gain youth and adult paying clients by helping the youth and teachers of the school first. This method breaks down the barriers at schools so you are welcomed in and can be trusted and known as the youth fitness expert in your area.

FOR: Elementary schools—these first two programs are for teachers to use to benefit the kids, and the third program is to benefit the teachers.


  • Supercharge the Brain to Learn with….”JumpStart Fitness for Kidz”
    This is a 10-minute program performed at the beginning of the school day in each teacher’s classroom. This exercise program is based on research that shows exercise before schools helps students be better learners at school and helps them test better.
  • “DeCharge, ReCharge, Recess”
    This is a program to help burn up some energy during recess time (in-doors) and recharge their brains to settle back down and absorb more information after recess. This is an extended version of the morning routine to keep it simple yet effective. Teachers have enough stress. These programs are designed to help alleviate some of that stress, help the kids learn more, and help the kids become more physically fit.
  • Free Lecture to Teachers on Express Fat Loss and Stress Reduction
    The youth fitness professional would go in for FREE, do a clinic with the teachers, and go through programs 1 & 2 (above). These would be very useful tools to help their students be better learners, receive fitness benefits, burn up some energy, make them be more alert in the classroom, and help the teachers during rainy/cold recess days. I have the format of the program designed and have tested it on all 600 kids. It works! I also give the teachers a handout and access to a video to view the routines.
    Next, you should offer a free lecture to the teachers that will explain how to lose fat fast and reduce stress. During the lecture, offer them your program on fat loss and stress reduction.

UPSELLS: Once you get your foot in the door, you can start looking for ways to begin generating revenue. Here are some ideas:

3 fitness marketing ideas when working with elementary schools: upsell a teachers bootcamp

  • Teacher’s Bootcamp: On-site or at your location
  • Fit Kids Club: For the after-school daycare program, this is a captive market, and they are already using soccer, gymnastics, etc. You can also host at your own location.

And there you have 3 fitness marketing ideas when working with elementary schools—a missed opportunity for most youth fitness professionals that could potentially revolutionize your business.

How to Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach

Opportunities Abound—Consider Your Strengths

Jim Kielbaso explains how to become a strength and conditioning coach

By Jim Kielbaso

The field of strength and conditioning has exploded over the past 10-15 years, and more people are wondering how to become a strength and conditioning coach than ever before. Unfortunately, most young professionals simply don’t know what options are available, where to start, or what it will take to get there. Because of this, many professionals end up moving on to other career pursuits. The purpose of this article is to give you a basic understanding of the strength and conditioning profession, what is available, and which paths are typical for each scenario.

Opportunities Available to the Strength and Conditioning Coach

How to become a strength and conditioning coach: 4 main tracks

Strength and conditioning job opportunities are typically found in four main career areas:

  1. Professional sports
  2. Collegiate sports
  3. Private setting
  4. Volunteer or part-time positions

Entrepreneurship has become an ever-important aspect of this profession, and having a great business idea can open up additional career paths such as speaking, writing, web-sites, product development, product sales, and more. Those areas are not the typical paths, so we won’t be spending much time talking about them. Keep in mind, however, that an entrepreneurial spirit can open the doors to a wide variety of additional opportunities in this field.

The Power of Networking

Most strength and conditioning coaches who have been in the game for more than a few years have worked very hard to get where they are. Almost all have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a related field and at least one major certification. Many coaches have a master’s degree, own multiple certifications, and have done internships or graduate assistantships to gain experience and connections in the Strength and Conditioning world. Like any other profession, some coaches simply fall into incredible positions and may even be ill-qualified for the job. Most, however, are “connected” to another coach. When that coach gets a new job, he often takes “his people” with him.

University of Tennessee Strength Coach Ronnie McKeefery puts it best: “Networking is an absolute must when you’re trying to break into this field. Knowing the right people can move your resume to the top of a large stack or even let you know about job openings you otherwise wouldn’t have known about.”

There is no objective way to determine who the best strength coaches are—there are no win/loss records attributed directly to the Strength and Conditioning coach—so “who you know” plays a big role in how many opportunities come your way. Unfortunately, many good coaches lose their jobs because they are connected to a sport coach who loses his/her job. That’s part of the game, and it’s the state of the profession. If that’s not appealing to you, you may want to find a job outside of college or pro sports.

More and more, sport coaches are learning about strength and conditioning and developing their own opinions about training. If you hope to work with a sport coach like this, your training philosophy better match his/her opinion of what works: The sport coach is in charge of the team and he/she may carry a lot of weight in the hiring/firing process; if you do things in a way that contradicts the coach’s beliefs, you’re probably not going to be hired. This reality has gotten many coaches to reevaluate what is important to them, and compromises have been made in order to keep jobs. This is not necessarily a good or bad thing, but it is a part of the profession.

Nearly Endless Options

If you’re just starting out and have a real passion for strength and conditioning but haven’t gotten too far into the business, you need to know that there are many options and paths to choose from. If you just want to be part of the scene, there are endless opportunities. There are a lot of schools, teams and athletes that would love some free or very inexpensive help. If you want to get paid, however, there are fewer opportunities. And, if you want to make a lot of money, your path is even narrower. That’s not to say that there aren’t good jobs out there, but there are a lot of quality coaches vying for a relatively small number of coveted jobs, so it’s very competitive. No matter which path you choose, you’ll probably have to pay your dues, unless you’re one of those lucky people who fall into a perfect situation.

“Putting in a lot of hard work and spending time developing as a coach is an absolute requirement,” says McKeefery. “This is a tough job, so you have to be willing to work. If hard work and long hours are a problem for you, this probably isn’t the job for you.”

You also need to keep in mind that not everyone is a good fit for this profession and different personalities fit better down certain paths. You don’t want to be the square peg trying to fit into a round hole, so it’s a good idea to figure out which path presents the best opportunities for your strengths. As you read through the rest of this article, you may connect with certain aspects of each job. Try to be very honest and objective about which environment you are best suited for. The coach who is perfectly suited for college football may be the wrong person to work with professional basketball players. An incredible Olympic sports coach may be terrible in a business setting.

You also need to understand that each situation has pros and cons. Working with professional athletes may be your dream because you love Sports Center. That dream could be completely shattered when you find out the realities of the situation. You may start out being driven in one direction, but don’t be surprised if your outlook changes as you mature in the profession.

Let’s take a look at some of the opportunities available in the field and the most common paths taken to get there. While you read, think about which situations you’re best suited for. Also keep in mind that there are always combinations of these positions available, and you may have an opportunity to create your own job in certain situations.

How to Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach in Professional Sports

(Salary range: $500/month–$300K+/year)

How to become a strength and conditioning coach for professional sports

To some people, this is the pinnacle. To others, it’s a terrible situation. There are a very limited number of jobs available in pro sports, so you’ll certainly have to pay your dues, get to know the right people and be in the right place at the right time to make it happen. Professional sports have evolved to the point that the athletes often have more power than the coaches, and some coaches aren’t right for that environment.

The path to success in professional sports is generally to pick one sport and go full tilt in that direction. You’ll probably get pigeon-holed early on as a hockey guy, football guy, basketball guy, etc., so be sure you like the sport you’re dealing with. That’s not to say you can never switch sports, but once you’re in, you’re kind of in.

Like college coaches, many pro coaches start out as a Graduate Assistant or intern for a collegiate program. From there, they often intern or volunteer for a pro team to get a foot in the door. Sometimes a player you’ve worked with puts a word in for you to get you into an organization. Once you get a foot in the door, it’s much easier to move ahead. It’s pretty common for a part-time coach or intern to be promoted to assistant coach if he/she is doing a great job. From there, many assistant coaches move up to a head coach spot when one opens.

MLB seems to have the largest number of opportunities, but many of them are internship positions with minor league teams. Inexperienced coaches have the opportunity to get jobs in pro baseball, and it can be a good learning experience if you are lucky enough to work under a good coach. It can also be frustrating because moving upward in an organization is difficult and competitive. The people at the top of the ladder typically stay there for as long as they can.

In baseball, you generally go from being an intern with a minor league team to being a minor league coordinator and finally to MLB head strength coach. Many teams hire from within, so it’s often a game of attrition: How long can you wait for a good job to become available?

“I spent time in three different organizations waiting for an opportunity to present itself, but it never happened,” says Nick Wilson from the University of Detroit Mercy. “I stuck around baseball as long as I could, but when a college position became available, I knew I had to jump on it.”

Your ability to connect with coaches and athletes will often outweigh your knowledge, so keep in mind that you have to be the right fit if you’re going to make it very far in baseball.

The NBA, NFL, MLS, and NHL are a little different because there aren’t many lower-tier or minor league positions available. The path noted above (intern–>assistant–>head) is similar to the path taken in collegiate sports. The big difference is that most “farm” systems of these sports simply don’t have full-time strength and conditioning coaches… yet. That may change in the future.

To get into one of these sports, you typically have to pay your dues for a while, making very little money, working very hard, traveling A LOT, and connecting with the right people in order for it to pay off. More importantly, you typically need to ride the coattails of a coach or high-profile athlete to get into a good position. For example, you may be a volunteer coach for an NFL team just at the time that the assistant Strength and Conditioning coach gets a new job. If you’ve done an outstanding job, you might get the Assistant position. From there, you may become great friends with the Defensive Coordinator. The next year, that coach may get a head coaching job for another team, and he may bring you with him because of your relationship. That’s a typical situation, but it doesn’t always work perfectly.

You also need to understand that pro Strength and Conditioning coaches are often hired and fired depending on how the players feel about you. It’s not uncommon to see a coach get hired or fired in pro sports because a star player either loved or hated him/her. It’s also not uncommon for someone to get hired by a professional team because he/she had developed a relationship with an owner or high-level manager. That’s certainly not typical, but you just never know how things might work out in professional sports.

If pro sports is your true passion, you’ll probably need to start out by volunteering for a team. Call the strength coach and ask if you can be involved in any way. If you’re lucky enough to get your foot in the door, take advantage of that opportunity by working your butt off. Hard work will often impress someone, and that could give you the opportunity to take the next step in that sport.

You’ll almost always need a strong educational background to land a good pro job, but there have also been plenty of ex-players or personal friends that get hired.

The NFL typically has one head strength coach and one or two assistants. Many teams are going with a speed coach instead of an assistant. Because of the schedule, NFL jobs require the least amount of travel and often have the most authority over the actual training the athletes engage in.

The NBA typically has one head strength coach, and some teams have intern positions. Travel can be grueling because you’re on the road most of the year. Not many NBA strength coaches have the authority to “make” a player train, so developing relationships is very important.

Not every NHL team has a full-time strength coach; many are also athletic trainers, and most have additional responsibilities such as minor league training or making travel arrangements. The MLS is still in its infancy. Most teams have someone working on fitness, but the quality of the position varies greatly from club to club. MLS and NHL have plenty of room for growth in this area.

How to Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach in College Sports

Salary range: $500/month–$300K+/year

Becoming a college strength and conditioning coach is easier than getting into pro sports

There are certainly more opportunities in college athletics than professional sports simply because there are more colleges than pro teams. Many colleges also employ more than one strength coach, and some employ several. There seem to be two distinct paths here: football and everything else. There are now several basketball-only Strength and Conditioning Coaches, but the majority of college coaches can be divided up by football and what they call “Olympic sports.”

In either situation, you always need a degree and national certification (usually NSCA or CSCCA), and most coaches now have a Master’s Degree and experience as either a Graduate Assistant or intern. If you want to get into college Strength and Conditioning coaching, you’re definitely going to need to pick between football and Olympic sports and work on getting a G.A. spot or internship. Getting a G.A. position at a large school is quite competitive, so you’ll need to make connections early and talk to college coaches about upcoming opportunities. Many G.A. positions are filled internally by former athletes, so you need to network heavily to get your foot in the door.

If you’re just starting out, try to get your experience at the biggest school possible, especially one with a good athletic program. That’s not to say you can’t get a fantastic experience at a small school with a great coach who gives you lots of responsibility; you can. Unfortunately, Athletic Directors (who are frequently doing the hiring) are often pretty uneducated about this, and they love to see successful sports programs on a resume, even if you didn’t do that much there. So, when choosing a Graduate Assistantship or internship, look for a big school or one that will give you plenty of hands-on experience.

“Having a resume is not good enough anymore,” comments McKeefery. “My last job listing, I had over 400 resumes, and 97% of them had a degree and certification. Having the education is a given. You must have practical application and experience.”

You may also want to look at the track record of the coach getting his people better jobs. Some coaches don’t help very much in this department, while others do everything they can to help people succeed.

Similar to pro sports, football Strength and Conditioning coaches often attach themselves to a coach and ride him as far as possible. With that in mind, a perfect scenario would be to become the assistant strength coach at a large school where the assistant football coaches have a good shot at being a head coach in the future. Keep in mind that when that coach moves on, you may be taken along for the ride.

If you really want to get into football strength and conditioning and you think you’re the right fit, contact as many football strength coaches as possible while you’re an undergrad so you can land a good G.A. position. G.A. positions are often filled a year in advance, so do plenty of networking by attending clinics and making phone calls to meet coaches.

Once you get a G.A. position, don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s going to be happy times for two years. On the contrary, most G.A.’s get worked to the bone, so get ready to put in some serious work. A Graduate Assistantship is basically a two-year interview just to get a recommendation. Of course, you get your graduate school paid for, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to get a job. You still have to do a great job and impress the head coach just to be in the position to have a favorable recommendation.

In general, Olympic sport strength and conditioning coaches are more laid back and focused on teaching an intern or G.A. how to be a great coach. These G.A.’s still work their butts off, but it’s generally a different attitude. There are often more jobs available because many schools have multiple Strength and Conditioning Coaches working with Olympic Sports, but those usually aren’t the huge-salary jobs. There are many excellent opportunities for quality female coaches in this setting, because many female sports want a female strength coach. There is a lack of quality female strength coaches, so good ones can often have plenty of opportunities.

The road to a big-time job can be long and full of ups and downs. The big-money jobs are typically associated with college football, so you have to be attached to the right coach and be willing to make a move when the timing is right. A typical path to the top involves several moves, so your family needs to be on board early in the process. It is common for a G.A. to get an assistant coach position and work there for a few years before getting a head job at a medium-sized school. If things work out well at that school, and your head football coach wins a lot of games, you might get the opportunity to follow him to a big school and a big-time job. From there, the program better keep winning, or you can lose that job as fast as you got it. Some guys will win a National Championship one year and lose their job the next (yes, it has happened), so don’t get too comfortable in any position.

Keep in mind that head strength coaches often do the hiring of assistant coaches at large schools. Athletic Directors are usually involved and will probably be part of the interview process. A.D.’s at smaller schools are much more involved in the hiring process. In both situations, a call or recommendation from another influential coach can often go a long way toward getting you an interview. If you don’t know anyone at the university, it’s very difficult to get noticed in a stack of resumes.

Don’t be too discouraged if you don’t even get an interview for a job. Many jobs get posted but have basically been filled internally. It’s not often that a great job gets posted and the school has no idea who they’ll be hiring. Again, networking is the key here.

How to Become a High School Strength and Conditioning Coach

Salary range: $10/hour–$100K/year

How to become a high school strength and conditioning coach

The high school scene for strength and conditioning is very interesting and very different from state to state and region to region. There are some states such as Texas, California, and Ohio where strength coaching jobs are fairly common in high schools. In other states, there may not be any school-sponsored positions. High school jobs are often filled by volunteers, assistant coaches, or sub-contracted employees who fill part-time positions to help a school. Most often, physical education teachers fill the role by default. Still, there are schools in certain areas that have multiple full-time coaches with large budgets and the full support of the administration. Private schools usually lead the way in funding these positions.

Helping at a high school can be done for a single team or an entire school. If you’re volunteering your time, you need to decide how many kids you’re willing to work with or how much time you can put in. Interestingly, many high school sport coaches are even more controlling than college coaches when it comes to strength and conditioning, so you have to be prepared for different personalities.

“I believe High School Strength and Conditioning is a great opportunity for newcomers to strength and conditioning,” says McKeefery. “If you combine that with a teaching position, you have a stable income and time at your disposal. With that financial stability, you can use the extra time to network while being able to practically apply what you learn with your athletes.”

Unfortunately, the high school scene has been inundated with sub-par programming from poor coaches. This often happens because the sport coaches choose a program based on marketing hype or because an unqualified coach fills the position. With all of the information available today, it’s almost unbelievable to see what some sport coaches come up with, but it’s the reality of the situation.

Landing a Job

To get a job at a high school, a strength coach usually needs to win the respect of a sport coach or A.D. Sometimes a degree and experience are necessary. In other situations, you just need to be the friend of a coach. If you’re looking to be a part of a program and have the time to volunteer, it’s possible to get your foot in the door of many schools.

Some schools fund the strength coach through school funds while others pay with booster club money. If you think this is a setting you can see yourself fitting into, think about getting your teacher’s certification. It doesn’t mean you have to teach, but it certainly opens a lot of doors in public schools.

How to Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach in a Private Setting

Salary Range: $10/hour–over $200K/year

How to become a strength and conditioning coach in a private setting

Over the past 10 years, more and more opportunities are springing up for strength and conditioning coaches in private settings. You can be a personal trainer who works with a few athletes, or you can run a complete business focusing exclusively on athletes. Entrepreneurs have established businesses like these all over the country, often focusing on a specific niche of the market. Some businesses focus on football combine training, while others are geared toward soccer or hockey players. Some deal mainly with younger populations, and others strictly run camps. You can pick your niche or spread out and train lots of different athletes. The key here is that you get to create your job and decide who you’re going to work with as long as you can get them to pay for your services.

You can operate an independent facility or be part of a large network of training centers. Athletic Republic is the largest chain in the world with over 160 centers, but there are also smaller chains. Athletic Revolution offers franchising opportunities for those who like control over how their business looks and feels.

Some training centers make good money, but most have found that this business does not have a very high profit margin. You can make a very nice living, but there aren’t many people getting rich in this business. Even the most successful facilities in the country supplement their income with personal training, nutritional supplements, or information products. It’s a difficult business, and the use of a consultant or outside expert is highly recommended when getting started. Many new facilities go out of business quickly because of bad decisions made early in the process. I have consulted with several facilities, and it’s amazing to see the mistakes that put people out of business. Again, Athletic Revolution (and personal training franchise Fitness Revolution) can provide business solutions to ensure you are efficiently running your business and allowing you more time to spend in the coaching aspect.

The surge of private training centers has created a lot of jobs for young coaches, however, and this segment of the field is expanding faster than any other. It is a great option for a young coach who may not fit into the college scene, can’t get a foot in the door in pro sports, or doesn’t have the demeanor to work with large groups of high school athletes. One of the most difficult aspects of this job is that you need to be nice enough to get people to pay for your services and stick with you yet demanding enough to get results. People who can talk comfortably with different athletes and parents and have the ability to make training somewhat enjoyable can just about write their own ticket in this industry. Many college and pro coaches lack these skills, so don’t underestimate how difficult it can be to run a successful sports performance business.

Most private facilities require a degree in the field and a certification from a nationally accredited agency such as the NSCA, NASM, or ACSM, but each business will have its own requirements. Doing an internship at a facility is probably the best way to get a foot in the door, but completing a graduate assistantship or internship at another facility is also a great start. These facilities often have a decent amount of turnover, so they hire on a fairly regular basis. When there is a job opening, the owners often hire coaches they don’t know very well, so opportunities abound, especially in metropolitan areas.

You’ll usually make the most money in the private setting when you own the business, but there is certainly a downside to ownership. The first, and most obvious, is the financial risk of spending a lot of money on a business and having it fail. Other downsides include having to do marketing, paperwork, accounting, and hiring and firing of employees. It can be difficult to find good employees you can trust, and this is a huge source of stress for many business owners. The upside is that you’re more in control of your career, and you can reap whatever financial rewards come your way.

It’s OK to be an employee if you feel that is where you fit the best. Not everyone needs to own a business, and the additional money may not be worth the stress.

Many gyms or fitness facilities have personal training programs, and these trainers always have the option of working with athletes. It’s a great option to do personal fitness training most of the time (to pay the bills) and train a few athletes as well; this is a very common situation. You don’t have to train athletes exclusively to make this work. You have to weigh your options and choose the best path for yourself.

Interning or getting experience at a private facility may also help you move into the college or professional setting. For example, Total Performance Training Center in Wixom, MI, has had several interns/employees move on to full-time college positions, paid college internships, or GA positions at major universities. Sometimes this kind of experience can really benefit you because you bring a different outlook to the table. Again, it all depends on your personality and determination.

How to Become a Part-time or Volunteer Strength and Conditioning Coach

Salary Range: Negligible

How to become a volunteer strength and conditioning coach

If you just want to be involved in athletics, there are a ton of opportunities to be connected without it taking over your life. A great option is to have another well-paying job that you enjoy and volunteer with athletes on the side. You may even get paid a little for your time, but it doesn’t have to be a full-time job. This can often keep things interesting for you and not turn training into a burden because you have to do it all day, every day. If you only spend a couple hours a week volunteering at a high school or with a sports club, you’ll probably continue to stay excited about it and keep the enjoyment factor high.

Many high schools, and even colleges and pro sports teams, love volunteer help from qualified coaches. Limited budgets often cause staffing problems for athletic programs, and a qualified volunteer can be a huge help in many situations. That doesn’t mean you can just call up an NFL team and ask to volunteer in the weight room. You still have to be qualified, and you need to network. Once you get to know a strength coach, you might have the opportunity to talk about being involved in some capacity. If you’re not asking to be paid, it’s always easier to bring this up.


I hope this article sheds some light on how to become a strength and conditioning coach, including the most common paths in the strength and conditioning profession and what type of person would excel at each. Of course, every coach has his/her own path, and there are many ways to achieve a goal. The point of this article was to show you the most common paths taken by coaches to get to each position.

To sum it all up, here are the things you need to do to become a strength and conditioning coach:

  • Get a great education: at least a bachelor’s degree, probably a master’s degree
  • Get certified by a nationally recognized organization
  • Learn from great coaches and hone your coaching skills
  • Network with as many coaches as possible
  • Seek opportunities and jump on them when appropriate
  • Work hard and put in long hours
  • Do an outstanding job training athletes day after day
  • Have a little bit of luck

If you do all of those things, you’ll certainly have opportunities in this field. If you have the right personality and meet the right people, you’ll probably get a decent job. If you work really hard, do a great job, and have a little bit of luck, you just might hit it big and become a leader in the field. Whatever you hope to achieve, I hope this article sheds some light on how to become a strength and conditioning coach and helps you choose the path that suits you best.

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