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.
To 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:
- Health Practitioners (includes ATs)
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,
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
Jared 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.