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Get Your Athletes to Drink the Kool Aid

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If you're a coach or trainer, your athletes are going to do what you say. But it doesn't mean they're listening to you.

If you're a parent coaching your kids, your job is much tougher. Athletes tend to tune our their parents' coaching instructions…even when those instructions are good ones.


Regardless of your situation, you'll get much better results out of your athletes if you can get them to truly buy into what you are selling.

At a recent competition, I had a parent approach me. She told me how her son comes home from practice each day raving about how excited he is about his training. How he loves going to practice, how much faster he feels, how confident he is about breaking the school record, etc.

She said how she used to be a high school coach. That she would try to tell him the basics like drink more water and stretch out after practice. When she said it, it was in one ear and out the other. But now that I'm saying it, all of a sudden, he's constantly got a water bottle in his hand, he's eating right and getting a post workout stretch in every day.

Apparently, this was a previously unimaginable change in behavior.

So how do I get my athletes to drink the Kool Aid and completely buy into my system (in this case, after working with them for a mere 2 weeks?)

Magic? Witchcraft? Voodoo? My priceless brand of comedy?

Probably that last one. But if not:

It's basic and straightforward.

I just explain everything we're doing, why we're doing it and exactly how it is going to make them better. Which makes the team better. Which makes everything more fun.

And explain it in simple terms they can understand.

Of course you could overwhelm them with science, but they don't want to hear that. And I don't have time to explain it.

Here's one thing I do, though mostly for my own entertainment…

Start by going into the science for about 10 seconds. Then stop yourself mid sentence and say 'Scratch that. You guys don't care about the science behind this. If you want to know about it just ask me after practice. Here's what it boils down to…'

Then break it down in everyday language. That a fifth grader could understand.

Giving them a dash of science shows you really do know what you're talking about. That you have a plan. Because they are paying attention. The good ones are online looking up training information and comparing what they learn to what we're teaching them. Our athletes need to know we're not just making up random workouts and drills like many of their other coaches. To say to themselves, even if subconsciously:

"Wow, there's an actual scientific reason why we're doing this. I don't quite get the science, or care, but what he says really makes sense."


Because there is a practical logic flowing through each element of their training, athletes can follow that logic and understand how and why hitting all their times in today's workout is to their competitive advantage. Instead of dreading it all day and then half assing their way through it.

So instead of giving 75% during that terrible hill workout like they normally do, they bear down and go 95% because they can see how it's going to help them at the end of a race. And now that they really believe they can run fast, training has purpose.

They're no longer just running to run, lifting to lift and training to train. They're not just blindly doing what the adult in charge tells them to do.

Because they understand how each drill, workout, rep and lift is specifically going to make them faster, they *want* to stay after practice and do just a few more starts.

They *want* to practice the speed drills on their own time.

They *want* to drink more water, eat healthier and take the time to do a good warmdown.

They *want* to take the time to get better because they *believe* in what they are doing.

So, as the coach, parent or trainer how do you get your athletes to *want* to do everything you say as opposed to blindly do what they are conditioned to do – listen to the adult?

It's really pretty simple: Put together a solid plan. Tell your athletes what they're doing and why. Demand slightly more from them than you expect.

Try it out and let me know how it works!


You might be thinking if you have access to a better training plan, your athletes will drink the Kool-Aid sooner and you'll have more confidence in your progressions and explanations. :

I've done for you what I do for my athletes – give you enough science for the process to make sense, but not so much that you have to play Jedi Mind Tricks with yourself to stay focused while you watch the DVDs. (Coaches get bored, too!) Plus full workout programs and every exercise and drill you could possibly need to teach athletic skill.

Recommended Athletes' Acceleration



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