Sports performance training is becoming a necessity for athletes that want to excel. It’s no longer good enough to just be talented — athletes must be strong, fast, and powerful to get ahead of the competition.
The only difference between selling sports performance programs for young athletes and selling personal training is that the parents are the decision makers. This can be tough because the parents are not experiencing the class, the kid is.
We’ve had athletes that loved the class but their parents wouldn’t sign them up, and we’ve had kids who hated the class but were signed up anyway. The process is unique but not impossible to make work.
1. Appeal to the Parent
Since the parents are the ones making the investment, building value becomes slightly different. The session isn’t going to speak for itself. The kids have no idea what’s going on in the grand scheme of things and the parents need to trust that your program is going to get the job done.
When parents call to set up their kids for a class, they often don’t know what to expect. The most important part of this process is finding out what they really want for their child.
If it’s speed, talk about how you’re going to get them faster and only briefly mention how strength training complements their speed work. The same goes for strength. Remember, in the end, safety and effectiveness is what they’re looking for most of all.
When talking about strength training try this out:
“We spend 45 minutes in the weight room where our athletes will work on strength, power, and mobility. In here, each athlete has their own program so that we can ensure they’re doing the right exercises and weights for them. Someone who is just starting out is obviously starting with the most basic exercises and lighter weights until they start to get stronger.”
Obviously tweak that to your needs but this method solves the potential safety fear that parents all have.
2. Appeal to the Athlete
Even though the child isn’t paying for the training, it’s still important to see what they want to get out of the program. If they hate the training, mom and dad aren’t going to pay for it for very long.
When teaching a goblet squat, you can tell them that the exercise will make their legs stronger which will also help them run faster. This will help them see the value in the exercise.
Fundamentally, you should strive to develop a relationship with the child so that they genuinely enjoy coming in the gym. They may always hate shuttle runs but at least they’ll enjoy being there.
3. Hold them Accountable
This is where things start to get ugly. Parents typically don’t want to be held accountable for training. Schedules are unpredictable and they have a lot going on. However, if they want their child to reap the benefits of the program, they have to show up.
To help improve attendance, we do small group training for athletes and everyone is set up on a monthly plan based on how many days per week they train. When we had per session plans and drop in rates, athletes wouldn’t show up as often because there was no risk of losing the classes. This meant they didn’t get the most out of the program and didn’t get the results they were looking for.
Still, many trainers continue to offer per-session pricing as a way to be flexible for their athletes’ schedules. Stop this.
Athletes that are held accountable like the program better — which means they get better results and are likely to do it for longer.
4. Be Flexible
This point may seem like a counter to point number 3. At the end of the day, it’s hard for young athletes to get to places because they don’t drive themselves. To that end, you must be somewhat flexible.
What we do is, if someone trains twice a week and misses a week, they can come three times for 2 other weeks. This keeps the athlete in the program and won’t sabotage the progress. However, we do not extend months or let anyone train for free from missed classes.
Flexibility also goes for the actual program. Young athletes get banged up, make quick progress, or even just grow. For example, an athlete will be making great deadlift progress and “suddenly” grow a half-inch in a week. Now we have to re-work the deadlift!
These are not college athletes that train 4x/week, year round with the same team. Be ready to change the plan on the fly.
5. Go All In
Do not train young athletes (or any athletes) just to make extra money. If you do boot camps for fat loss, leave the sports performance training to the right people.
Children are not mini adults and you can’t train them like that. If you’ve never trained a young kid, then make sure you that know what you’re doing first.
There’s nothing worse than when an 11 year-old shows me something they did at “mom’s gym” because some unqualified person told them to.