3 Tip To Enhance Communication With Clients
Coaching is a lot like teaching, in fact, coaching is teaching. Teachers are evaluated not by what they know and understand, but what their students are able to comprehend and learn. Similar to teachers, coaches should be evaluated on what their clients are learning and need to be cognizant if their message is resonating with their clients.
At HansenAthletics, our goal is to educate our clients on movement, lifestyle, longevity, and the benefits of a positive mental approach. Ideally, we want them to be able to take this knowledge beyond the training space and provide them with the tools to live a healthy lifestyle for years.
In order for our message to resonate with our clients, we must communicate effectively and build a relationship with each individual. In reality, this sounds simple, but humans are dynamic and complex. Each client will likely take slightly different communication strategies to reach them effectively. It is our job as coaches to understand this and adapt to our clients to provide them the best possible experience.
Below are three quick and easy tips that will help you resonate with all of your clients and will help you to communicate in a versatile manner.
Can you really start a communication article without listening being the number one point? Everyone knows that listening is important but it is still grossly neglected. Humans naturally think about their response rather than listening and understanding the message. Coaching requires a lot of talking. We are constantly evaluating form, teaching technique, and helping our clients master their movement.
When you are not harping technique it is time to shut up and listen. Let your clients tell you how they feel. Empower them to communicate by asking strong open-ended questions and then actually listen to their response and jot it down after the session. You will be able to draw on this information later and it will probably help you more than you think. Bringing up a topic that was important to the client a session or two down the road will show them that you are listening and care about what they are saying.
2. Coach to their purpose
Let’s face it, coaches can be nerdy at times! Stuff that excites us probably does not excite our clients. I can guarantee most of your clients don’t care about where their hamstring inserts or why performing a squat is going to activate their posterior chain. What they do care about is how it will enhance their performance and help them reach their goal.
It is important to learn how to speak their language. Instead of going into detail about what muscle groups the squat works tell your clients they are squatting because it will increase their vertical and make them a better rebounder. One strategy for this is to color code there workout based on how it matches up to their goals and needs. Exercises that will increase vertical can be red, exercises that focus on change of direction are green and so on and so forth. This allows your message to be “sticker” and gives the athlete an immediate response on why they are performing a specific exercise. If they know that the exercise is important to reaching their goal they will probably give a little more effort as well.
It is also important when coaching athletes to understand there sport and environment. You should be doing this anyway to create an effective training program. However, just knowing the physiological aspects of the sport is not enough to effectively reach your athlete. Different cultural aspects develop with different sports. A good example of this could be the different dynamic there is between a team sport athlete and an individual sport athlete. It is important to be aware and be able to adapt your coaching to these differences because they have the potential to affect your program just like poor diet, sleep, or lack of time would.
3. Be real and be transparent
If you want to truly build trust with your clients you have to be willing to give a little to the relationship. We can’t expect to be able to load up our clients with information and a flurry of questions and not give anything back in return. If a particular client is shy and unwilling to ask questions feel free to volunteer some information about yourself. This will probably be a little uncomfortable at first. I know it is for me. Allowing your clients to see that you are a real person with real challenges just like them will put you mutual ground and help build their trust. Be true to yourself in these moments and don’t be afraid to be a little vulnerable.
It is easy to feel rushed in a training session and leave the session feeling like you did not communicate with a client as well as you could have. These quick tips serve as a reminder on things we should be striving to improve on every session. Communication takes time to improve and should be practiced and researched just like other aspects of coaching.
Shelton grew up in Pocatello and was active in multiple sports growing up. After high school he played offensive tackle at Weber State University. While at Weber State University he received a degree in Human Performance Management and a minor in Nutrition. Shelton then moved back to Pocatello and received a masters degree in physical education from Idaho State University while working as a GA and volunteer strength coach. Through this education process Shelton also earned his CSCS and is USAW Level 1 sports performance coach.
Currently, Shelton is the lead trainer at HansenAthletics and has been applying principles of HansenAthletics with both the general population and youth sport athletes.