With the rising popularity of private sector training, there are more training options than ever before, and the decision to hire a coach is not to be taken lightly. The purpose of this article is to speak to the parents of youth athletes 10-18, which is the age when I believe strength and conditioning can have its biggest impact, not only on athletic performance, but for LIFE as well.
The training industry is pretty unregulated. There is a low barrier of entry. There are no true guidelines on what is good, bad, right or wrong. It’s pretty wide open at this point. And that is totally OK. I don’t say that to scare you off. Many industries are also this way, but it does make hiring or researching potential coaches just a little bit more of a task.
My goal is to help you, the parent, find your son or daughter the best fit for them. And maybe that best fit is no one. The whole idea is that I would love to share my perspective, as someone in this industry, so you can use it to empower your decision.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts when hiring a private coach.
Ask for referrals
The absolute easiest way to find a high-quality professional is through referral. About 90 percent of my business has come from direct referrals from clients. Asking other families, teammates and friends for referrals gives you a way to make an easy connection with a professional based on the feedback from people you trust.
This already puts you ahead of the game because you’ve been pointed in the right direction by someone whose opinion you value. It will save you a lot of time and stress if you can get an organic connection to someone in the industry.
Have a budget in mind
Private training is a luxury. It’s a blessing to be in a position to afford extracurricular things that can help your kid develop. One of the most important things you can do as a parent looking to hire a trainer is to keep a budget in mind.
Remember we are business owners. We have to make money to stay in business. Part of our job, unfortunately, is to sell things. Some enjoy that sales aspect of the job more than others and they may be more concerned with the amount of the sale, rather than the amount of impact they can have.
Don’t get sold on something. Purchase something based on your budget and situational needs.
Inquire about their experience
Whether you get a referral or not, it’s important to get a deep background on your potential hire. Ask questions and get to know this person because they will be working directly with your child.
Some great questions to ask would be:
- Tell me about your background.
- How did you get started in the industry?
- What experience have you had working with _______?
- What are your degrees, qualifications, licenses and certifications?
- What are some things you think my kid needs to work on?
These will lead to more organic conversations, which is where the real judgement of character can be made. Everyone can have an elevator pitch, but how much a person can really connect with someone is much more important.
Don’t make a decision based on social media following
During the trainer selection process, you’ll probably end up researching the person online. Smart. Definitely check social media and other online sources to see how they portray themselves online.
It is very important to know that social media following, popularity or clout DOES NOT equate to competence.
Followers can be purchased. Reviews can be fabricated. Reality can be skewed. Social media is a great research tool, but info must be taken with a grain of salt due to how misleading some things can be online versus reality. Never let your face-to-face interactions be outweighed by anything you see online.
Don’t value WHO they train more than HOW they train
If there is anything you take away from this article, this is the one. Value how the coach trains over who the coach trains.
Many parents assume that because a trainer works with high-profile athletes they will be a great fit for their kids as well. That is not always the case. Or even worse, parents assume that their kids should be doing whatever those high-profile athletes are doing. Also not the case.
As a parent you need to look at where your child is currently and take the slow and steady approach to athletic development. Any great coach will tell you the same thing.
Don’t rush into a decision
Lastly, make sure you hire the right person and don’t settle on someone who is just OK for the job.
Especially at a young age, a lot of habits will be created in the weight room—both in mindset and movement. My recommendation is to find the perfect hire so that those habits formed early on don’t have to be broken and reformed later by someone else.
Hopefully this short guide can help you as you take the next step in your child’s athletic development. There are thousands of coaches out there who truly want to see your kid perform at their best—in sports and in life.
Once you find that person, you’ll know. I look at my clients more like family. Our relationships go way beyond touchdowns, dunks, sets and reps. It’s about the human, not just the athlete.
Photo Credit: SDI Productions/iStock