This article was written by Alexus Jimson-Miller, Product Designer at Upper Hand
As an athlete, I often wondered how my coaches became so successful at what they did. It seemed that they always had a plan; all of my training partners were on the same page, we were getting better every day, and we could tell they shared our love for the sport.
I bet your athletes feel the same way. You’ve started building training programs that run efficiently and help them improve in their sport without much required on their end: just a positive attitude and discipline. However, even the experts can use a little help sometimes. Maybe you’re ready to take your passion for training athletes to the next level or maybe you’ve already started growing your client base and need to solidify your plans for the future. Whatever it is, we’ve got you covered with helpful tips for turning your passion into a profitable business. Check out our 5 best practices for more information on opening a successful sports training academy.
1. Develop a clear mission/ vision statement
To get started on the right foot, developing a clear vision and mission statement is key. Developing a mission statement involves clarifying your objectives and a vision statement is used to describe the future of your business. These statements will help guide the decision making required to meet your goals.
For example, if your mission is to teach the fundamentals of your sport and your vision is to be the leader in youth sports instruction in your community, your target audience is likely to be younger athletes who have been newly exposed to the sport. Knowing this, you can make sure to hire staff who are patient, excellent teachers, and find satisfaction in knowing the small details of movements or technique.
Having clear mission and vision statements will also assist you in marketing your academy and telling people what you’re all about. Showing how dedicated, organized, and focused your training academy is allows others (parents, sponsors, athletes, community members) to build that base of trust in your program.
2. Hire qualified coaches & staff
The success of a sports academy also depends on the quality of the coaching and staff. Hiring knowledgeable coaches who are passionate about the sport and staff who are quick, diligent learners is essential. They will be shaping the lives of athletes and contributing to meet the shared goals of your business in a huge way.
When hiring coaches and staff, think back to your vision and mission statements. Do the individuals represent the values or your program? Are they experienced leaders? Do they demonstrate knowledge of your sport and the willingness to learn more? Are they trustworthy? These are all things to consider when creating a team that will be the face of your program.
For more specific interview questions that will help you identify which coaches are a great fit for your business, you can also check out our blog that outlines 8 questions you should be asking.
3. Implement structured training programs
It’s important to consider various elements associated with athlete development as you design your training program. Technical skill, strength, conditioning, mobility, and sport psychology are just a few of the training elements that you may need to incorporate. Not all athletes will come in with the same knowledge, strength, or coordination so creating a handful of base programs with specific goals in mind is a great place to start. It also gives you the ability to create modifications based on athlete needs without completely deviating from your core movements or exercises.
The process of implementing a structured program can take many forms. Some coaches prefer sharing their programs by email or text. Others may just write it down on a white board or share it on a piece of paper prior to the athlete training sessions. If you’re someone who prefers using technology, there are a number of tools to help you keep track of your programs and manage athlete progress digitally. Athlete Progression Tracking is just one of the tools Upper Hand has created to do just that. As long as you have a clear training program ready and coaches there to execute, you should be in a good place.
Athletes are trusting you with a part of their sports journey’s. Spending time designing and implementing a well-thought out training program to help them achieve their goals is a fun part of the process.
4. Foster a positive coaching culture
As you build your sports training academy, you’ll also be building a community of athletes and staff. It’s imperative that a positive and supportive culture is cultivated. How can this be done? As a leader, modeling behaviors and communication styles that are positive and respectful is a good starting point. Additionally, incorporating exercises that require teamwork and discipline in your programs are a great way to ingrain these skills into the training and culture of your business.
Fostering a positive team culture is important because it can help athletes feel motivated and help them stay engaged in training. If your training academy is a place where they feel respected and encouraged to be their best selves, training becomes a fun way to grow personally and athletically. It’s not just another activity but an experience that shapes them in a memorable way. The same can be true for your staff. If they feel motivated and valued, they’re likely to be better coaches and better communicators. Knowing that they’re respected and not just a cog in the machine can also make room for creativity in teaching and organization because they know you trust them.
5. Prioritize athlete development/ well-being
When your business is athlete focused, their well-being should always be a priority. Athlete development and well-being should be at the core of what you do regardless of your business goals or your sport. We believe having the tools and safeguards in place to support athletes to perform at their best is actually more of a requirement than a best practice. These tools may include providing the proper equipment, programming appropriate exercises for skill level, background checking your staff, clear injury reporting procedures, and a way to clearly communicate with athletes and their families.
Prioritizing athlete development will always be an advantage for your business, the program, and the community you serve. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by making sure that athletes you work with are properly supported.
Ready to open a sports training academy?
These best practices are here to help you build your sports training academy. If you’re already in the process of building your academy, we hope that these tips are a reminder to surround yourself with a great staff, encourage you to update or refine your training programs, and to go the extra mile to ensure athletes are taken care of. Your passion for the sport and dedication to the athletes you serve is a recipe for success.
For those that haven’t begun building a sports training academy but feel it is the right next step, you’ve got some great resources at your disposal via this article and many others on our website for setting things in motion. If you’re looking to start your business, we’re here to help. Schedule a demo of Upper Hand today so you can spend your time doing what you love: coaching athletes.