Flip roles for a moment.
You’re the athlete now, and no longer the coach.
What are some things that you would look for in your coach? How would you want him or her to coach you? What would your expectations be?
These are just a few of the common questions and thoughts that run through the mind of each and every athlete that you end up coaching.
They’re all thinking the same things, and to a certain extent, have most of the same expectations. It’s on you as the coach to deliver time and time again.
In order to do so, you must ensure that you’re checking off the most important boxes at all times: presentability, professionalism, and accountability.
These 3 areas are crucial skills if your ultimate goal is to build buy-in and trust with your athletes.
Did you brush your teeth this morning, floss, and toss in some mouthwash, too?
Some may say that this isn’t a big deal while others may be turned off by your breath if it doesn’t smell good. Let’s not forget, a typical coaching session involves working in close proximity with your athletes. These are the little details that matter.
How does your hair look? Did you simply roll out of bed and onto the coaching floor? Or, did you take your time to get ready and put your hair together? I hope the answer to the latter is ‘yes’.
How about your shoes: did you tie them, or are they still untied? Again, let’s make sure that this answer is a resounding ‘yes’.
Everything comes into play here. Your presentation is a direct representation to your character, your morals, and your respect for yourself. I get it: some will read this and roll their eyes while thinking that this has nothing to do with coaching. I, on the other hand, firmly believe that this has everything to do with coaching.
At the end of the day, you are providing a service. We are in the service industry. This means that we must deliver a service, and in doing so, put our best foot forward to ensure that our athletes continue to come back and pay for our services. Part of that process is largely based on whether or not they like us, enjoy our company, and find the training sessions valuable.
Case in point: would you go to see a dentist who had bad teeth? Exactly.
A few other important areas to key in on from a presentability standpoint when it comes to attire:
- Shoes: make sure that you’re wearing clean gym sneakers and tie them up so that they look neat.
- Outfit: make sure that your outfit is also gym-related attire and presentable; basically, don’t walk into your training session wearing your pajamas.
- Avoid being loud: let’s drop anything about your attire that is loud, too colorful, or distracting. I am all for expressing yourself (trust me: I have 44 pairs of sneakers!), but it’s important to do so in a way that doesn’t distract your athletes from staying focused in the gym.
When was the last time you opened a dictionary or, at the very least, looked up a new word on your computer or phone?
My hope is that you can eventually get to a point where the answer to the above question is “3-4 times each week”.
A big chunk of professionalism can be found in the previous section on presentability. However, the other chunk of professionalism is meshing how you appear with how you act.
I’m a big fan of learning new words in order to expand your overall vocabulary. By no means am I insinuating that you have to develop a plethora of lexicon to use at your disposal. I am saying that you have to “talk the talk” alongside “walking the walk” with your athletes.
Not every athlete that walks in your door is going to be 12-year-old Jimmy from down the street who wants to build strength for baseball. Jimmy is easy to talk to. Let’s face it: he’s a kid.
Throughout your career as a coach, you will undoubtedly encounter many people from all different walks of life. You’ll likely work with anyone from a CEO from a big wig company to a post-college weekend warrior to everyone in between.
You’ll be putting yourself in the driver’s seat to success by adding both breadth and depth to your overall vocabulary. This will allow you to speak the language of every athlete you coach, regardless of age, background, job, or experience. Being able to speak the same language as your athletes means that you understand them and who they are. Understanding these key items means that you’ll have a greater ability to build buy-in and trust due to relatability.
The last piece to professionalism is to close your eyes and imagine sitting down in a high-end, fancy restaurant. I’m talking about the type of restaurant that you save for the 2-3 special occasions each year.
Imagine, if you will, that you’re sitting down, the lighting is perfect, the music is at just the right volume, the ambiance is spot-on. Your waiter or waitress comes over dressed properly with unparalleled manners, and is able to hold a friendly and accommodating conversation. The mood is set, the food is to die for, and it ends up being an unforgettable experience.
Now, imagine that that is how your athlete thinks when he or she steps into your gym. I’m not talking about the soft and relaxing ambiance. I’m talking about the unforgettable experience, the fine attention to detail, and the respectfulness from the waiting staff.
That is what your athletes expect. They want a coach who can deliver an unforgettable experience. A coach who pays close attention to the finest of details. Be a coach who, in their eyes, comes off as professional and results-driven. Be the coach who creates an unforgettable experience in the training environment within your gym.
Don’t be late.
Show up. Every. Single. Time.
Be there for your athletes, especially in times of need, by making your presence felt.
Be their consistent source of guidance and support.
This section could be filled with much, much more. However, if you simply follow the words in the 4 sentences above, you will check off every boxed need to be an accountable and responsible coach to your athletes.
Presentability, professionalism, and accountability are three major pillars of what can set you apart in the coaching world. Your clients are paying you for a service, and bringing your best self to the table every single day is a surefire way to make sure they are getting the best experience from you.