Just about every high school in our country has a weight room in it these days, and that feels like a problem to you, the gym owner…
Maybe it’s a problem because the football coach has his guys in the gym at 6:00am banging out ugly squats and aggressive training material that may not be in the best interest of your long-time client who is too afraid to speak up.
It might be a problem because that same coach is telling the kids that you don’t understand football like he does and that training in your gym is a waste of time and money.
Whatever your circumstances look like, it feels like a problem. So, what are you going to do about it?
You could play the political bad-mouthing game and tell an athlete that his coach is in over his head because he doesn’t have an exercise science degree and a CSCS like yourself, or you could take the high road and kill everyone with kindness. I’d imagine you know this already, but I’m taking the high road if I find myself in this situation.
Here are a few solutions you can take to this perceived problem and hopefully begin playing nice with the local high school coaches:
1. Compliment Instead of Competing
The first thing you can do in advance of a pending season would be to reach out to the coach and introduce yourself. Explain that you’ve had the pleasure of working with his players, compliment him on the work ethic that he’s obviously instilled in his guys, and ask how you could design their training material to compliment the existing game plan for team-lifts, extracurricular conditioning, etc.
Tell him that you want to ensure that the material you prepare for his players during their time not spent at the high school gym is designed to build off of the progress which you expect them to be making in his weight room, and consider even going so far as to ask his advice.
At worst, he’ll blow off your email while knowing that you’ve proven yourself to have some semblance of professionalism. At best, he’ll acknowledge that you know the ins and outs of the weight room better than he does, and ask you to consult on his strategy for morning lifts.
2. Offer to Help
Imagine the tables were turned and you received an email from the local football coach saying the following:
“Dear World Class Strength Coach,
As we approach the start of the high school summer break I would imagine you find yourself ramping up for an influx of my football players looking to prepare for the season. I’d also imagine those guys can overwhelm the space pretty quickly. With this in mind, I thought I’d offer to drop by and be an extra set of hands if you guys are ever in need of some coaching help.
Please don’t hesitate to let me know how I can be of assistance, and thanks for taking care of my crew.
Coach So & So”
Answer a quick question for me, and be honest…would you read that email and think to yourself: “Here we go again with this a-hole….”
You’d be pleasantly surprised, and might even take him up on his offer.
Take that template and make it your own in a way that will effectively communicate the message that you’re here to help. Remember this: Many states have rules in place that keep athletic faculty from interacting with their athletes on school grounds while not in season, so it is in your best interest to be positioned as the best alternative in the minds of these coaches if such rules exist.
3. Show Face
Show up to everything you can, and make sure to bring the right attitude. Fund-raising car wash? Bring your car by and leave a big tip. Informational meeting for players and parents? Make an appearance to get a feel for the questions and concerns of the parents, and make note of how the coaches respond. Game day? You’d better be on the sideline wearing team colors and finding a way to deliver a congratulatory handshake to Coach So & So on his way to the bus.
Be a team player, even if you aren’t actually on the team.
4. Donate Equipment
While it is common to find weight rooms on premises at local high school these days, it is similarly common to find woefully under-equipped spaces. If you find yourself replacing an old squat rack because you’re upgrading to the collegiate set-up, buying a new olympic bar because the knurling is wearing down on yours, or installing some pretty new hash-marked turf in place of the old stuff, consider donating it to the school.
You’ll improve the work environment for the coach you currently feel like you’re competing with, while also improving the likelihood that your clients get safe and effective training in off-site from your own gym.
If you’ve made it this far, you know that my solution for the grumpy local football coach problem is to kill him with kindness. There are more than enough entitled parents and athletes breathing down the necks of those coaches, so there’s no need for you to be another rock thrown on top of that heavy pile.
If none of these suggestions are welcomed in some way shape or form, I’d suggest that you bide your time, and wait for the inevitable firing that is sure to come!