Developing Relationships with Sports Coaches and Athletes



by Ryan Ketchum

Sports Coaches and Athletes



In the past 6 years of coaching athletes and running a youth fitness business there is one obstacle that always presents itself when working with older athletes.

How do I get in with the coach?

This is a question that I get frequently when helping our Athletic Revolution franchisees and other business coaching clients that have youth fitness programs. It is something that I deal with on a daily basis in my own business attempting to make contacts, grow our current network and increase our membership.

The first step in developing a relationship with a coach or team is checking your ego at the door. One of the first things that should cross your mind is the number of athletes that you may not have the chance to work with if you don’t work to develop this relationship. How many lives could you miss out on changing?

When dealing with coaches, especially the coaches you lack a previous relationship with, you want to make sure that you don’t come across as a know it all strength coach that wants access to their athletes. Think about the stance you would take if a sports coach came to you as a strength and conditioning coach asking you to send all of your baseball players to him for pitching lessons, but you have no idea how to it and he is giving you pointers on how they should train. This would make most of us go on the defensive really quickly and shut down any chance of a relationship.

This process is slow and takes effort on the part of the strength coach. You have to nurture the relationship and allow it to take shape overtime. It is important to compliment the coach, let him know that you think they are doing a great job and also briefly inform them of what you do with athletes.

An introduction might be something like this:

“Hi Coach Jones, this is Ryan Ketchum from Athletic Revolution here in Bloomington, how are you doing today?  Cindy Smith, John’s mom, gave me your contact information because I wanted to touch base with you on his progress and make sure that I am doing everything possible to help him be the best athlete for your team possible.

Is there anything that you think John should be working on that I might be able to improve on in his program?
Let me give you a rundown of what we have been doing so far…”

Right away you have let the coach know that you are not trying to step on his toes, but rather work with him and accept his advice on training. People love being the expert and giving you their opinion, so use this to your advantage and let them give it you.

Once you have established this base with the coach you should take about training, the season or upcoming season for the team, how well they have done so far, etc. The key here is to develop the relationship further and break down any barriers.
Once you have made these connections and broke down the barriers it is a bit easier to get involved with the coach and team. The transition at this point is really easy.

“Coach, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me about John and his training program as well as talking about your season. It was great to finally get to speak to you. I want to give you something in return for taking the time to do this for me, would that be ok?

Great!  I think that it would be really fun and useful if you would allow me to come in for 45 minutes to work with your team on reactive speed and agility training using some cool tools I have. I know how important being able to change directions, stay safe doing it, and move quickly is to your sport and I might be able to help you guys a little. Best part about this is that I would like to donate my time if you are up for it? 

Great!  Let’s get a few times set up so we can both put it in our schedules. I don’t need any equipment; I will bring my resistance bands if you can provide the space.It’s going to be a lot of fun being able to see the guys get faster after working with them for just a little bit!

Do you need anything else from me?

I promise that if you take 10-15 minutes to talk with the coach, present yourself as a non-threat, and really work to develop the relationship you will have access to working with the team and having the coach in your side.

Ryan Ketchum is the Co Owner of Force Fitness and Performance and Athletic Revolution Bloomington. Not only does Ryan work in the trenches with athletes, but also other coaches helping them build their businesses and achieve great success. Ryan is a proud members of the IYCA and honored to be on the Board of Experts.

4 Responses

  1. Great stuff as usual Ryan!

  2. kevin says:

    Awesome information that I will be using right away. Thanks Ryan.

  3. Chochi says:

    There’s nothing worse than having the “Fitness Expert” come in with ‘their’ program for ‘your’ team (even if it’s a good program).

    Because psychologically, there are so many factors going on for the prospective coach (too many to list here)…

    I’ve found that until I treat them as an equal and make myself available to them as support tool/option… they will keep there distance and their kids away from me and anything I am offering.

    I work with soccer coaches/teams specifically and I’m still coaching teams so I see it from both ends.


    PS. By the way, I found out the hard way in the early years of my business that no matter what I said or how I said it, if I was there just to make money off his team… I never got past the first conversation.

    It’s about the kids and the difference we can make, and it will always will be this way…


  4. Coach B says:

    Having coached football 43 years and counting you nailed it here – “The first step in developing a relationship with a coach or team is checking your ego at the door.”

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