I’ve worked with athletes in the past who along with their parents will hang on every word that I say. They have bought in and drank the Kool-Aid that I have given them.
Then it is safe to say that some athletes and their parents absolutely did not buy into anything that came out of my mouth. Which is fine because as much as we want to help everyone that we can, we know that not everyone is a perfect match for each other.
I am a coach on two different levels. I run a training facility where my coaches do their absolute best to get your kids stronger and faster for their sport. I am also the head track coach of a boys’ and girls’ track team. Both positions require the ability to create buy-in from the athletes in order to make the program successful.
Creating that buy-in is something that takes a few years to master. It isn’t as easy as showing up and saying, “I am your coach, do what I say.”
Here is a list I put together that I have my coaches look at of strategies they can implement to create athlete buy-in (in no particular order):
- I don’t think this is the ultimate #1 for this list, but you should have had some past success with athletes to share. It isn’t crucial, but if you have had a few athletes that you’ve coached that had success under you and went on to great things, definitely discuss that. Especially if it is a sport that your current athletes play.
- Start off though by figuring out what type of culture or environment do you want to have. Is the environment nurturing, a lot of in-your-face yelling, laid back, supportive, etc. Knowing what type of culture you want to have will help attract the kind of athletes that might want to work with you. Thus, it makes it easier for athlete buy-in.
- Explain why you are doing the things that you are doing. Athletes can be smart individuals, so give them a brief summary of why the training plan is doing this or that. If they ask questions, you can elaborate a little more. But, the key part is if they do ask more questions, be specific on how the program will help them individually. If you can relate it to their sport and their goals, there will be more of a buy-in to do the workouts you will be providing.
- There has to be a willingness from the athlete to want to be better. Their desire to want to be good has to be at least the same as your desire for wanting them to be good. If you are more into it than them, it will be tough for the athlete to buy-in.
- I think this is the biggest strategy of them all. You have to show that you care about the athlete. If they understand that you are investing your time and truly want the athlete to do the best that he/she can, it means the world to them. If they feel you treating them like just another athlete or a paycheck, it will be a long hill to climb to earn their trust.
Getting athletes to buy-in to your philosophy and system is important nowadays. The old, “It’s my way or the highway” doesn’t work that well with today’s athletes.
If you are a coach, put down some of your strategies in the comments’ box below that get athletes to buy-in. I’d love to see what I could incorporate into our training with our athletes from your wisdom.