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Getting Started with Long-Term Development Programs - 3 Key Components

If you’ve been following the content here at the ConnectedCoach Academy, you know how often I emphasize the need for coaches to move away from selling time for money and into an outcome-oriented coaching offer.. 

But recently, I’ve had lots of coaches ask me how they should go about making this transition. How do you actually begin the journey away from the “Lessons” model and into the “Coaching” model?

That’s what I’m gonna cover for you in this post today. More specifically, I want to focus on the importance of introducing long-term programming into your business. 

Today’s topic will be a little more philosophical in nature - I’m not offering a specific workout plan necessarily, but more speaking to the 3 key components of a successful Long-Term Development Program. 

Be sure to read to the end for the key action items to put today’s learnings into play. And stay tuned for more on this topic in the coming weeks. 

Let’s get to it!

Quick Reminder: “Lessons” Vs. “Coaching”

In case you’re new here, I wanted to quickly show you what I’ve coined “The ConnectedCoach Pathway”. It illustrates the journey from the old-school “Lessons” model of coaching, all the way up to “ConnectedCoaching”’. 

At the “Lessons" level of the pathway, coaches sell units of time to their athletes. I.e. 1 hour lesson once a week.  

This model is broken. Selling your time for money is bad for business. And, it gives the false impression your athletes need only dedicate an hour a week with you to get better. Moreover, it neglects their needs during solo practice time, when they arguably need your help even more. 

When I hear a coach struggling with burn out or a slow growing business, 9 times out of 10 it’s because they are relying on a Lessons model to deliver their coaching. 

(More on this topic: What’s Wrong With Selling My Time For Money?; Sell Your Expertise, Not Your Time; Introducing the ConnectedCoach Pathway)

Next, in the “Coaching” level, coaches typically bump up their prices and focus more on the "performance" impact of the athlete. Because of this they'll typically work with athletes that have bigger aspirations and are more serious about their development. 

Here coaches take advantage of the technology at their fingertips, begin structuring their offers to bundle multiple coaching products, reduce the amount of time they’re coaching live, and increase their income substantially

This is the level where Long-Term Programming makes an appearance. 

And this is the level that we’ll be focusing on today. 

While ConnectedCoaching will always be the goal, I’ve found that the coaches are too often stuck on the bottom of the pathway.  

So let’s get you into “Coaching” and on the right track. Then we can get you to the goal. 👊

With the exposition out of the way, let’s dive into the 3 "keys" of structuring a long term development program.

Key Component 1: Minimum Expectations

To start, it’s crucial that you set minimum expectations, both for you and for your athletes. 

By focusing on long-term development, you’re boldly stating that you’re not just a “quick fix” or “one-and-done” kind of coach. 

Make it crystal clear how frequently you’re gonna meet in person, how many asynchronous interactions you expect, and how they’re gonna document their practice. 

Here I recommend 2 minimum questions per week and 2 minimum analyses per week, which you can read more about in last week’s blog: How to Make $100,000 Per Year Coaching Less Than 30 Hours Per Week. 

Different businesses will have slightly different needs, but it’s imperative that you set these expectations on day 1. 

That way when the going gets tough or milestones are missed, you can always point to those initial expectations as a baseline. 

Key Component 2: Minimum Commitment

Next, in addition to expectations, you also need to establish the minimum commitment you expect from your athletes. 

Ask them: How much time are you willing to dedicate to achieve your goals? 

To be clear, I’m not talking about raw time on a weekly basis. I’m talking about monthly or yearly time goals that you can track against and compare progress to. 

In most cases, I find that planning in 3-6 month blocks works well. 

Create a 3-6 month plan and clearly define where you expect them to be and how much time you expect it will take them to get there. Then, once that block passes, review how it went and adjust the plan accordingly. 

It’s crucial to stay strict when it comes to these goals. Make it clear that your programming may be tough, but you expect a lot from the clients you take on. 

And when all else fails, drop clients that repeatedly fail to meet your agreed-upon expectations.. Set expectations and commitments and stick to them, otherwise they won’t motivate your athletes to improve. 

Bottom line: you need to not only COACH in a way that focuses on long-term development, you should also only take on ATHLETES that are ready to do the same. 

Key Component 3: Focus on Results

Lastly, good Long-Term Programs focus on Results. 

This is not only important when it comes to marketing your offer, but also when it comes to framing up the minimum expectations and commitments I describe above.

Think about it this way.

By selling lesson packages, you’re not promising any level of improvement over time. You’re not selling a result or speaking to their goals and outcomes you’ll help them achieve.. You’re just saying “hey I’ll be here with you for X amount of time”. 

That’s not inspirational. It does little to help them improve. 

So try really leaning into the results. E.g. “By working with me. You're gonna run X times faster, jump this much higher, hit the ball X yards further, win the big tournament(s), etc.”

Trust me. If you sell the result, you’ll inspire much more confidence in your athletes AND your business will thank you for it. 

Quick Recap 

To summarize today’s major takeaways, quality long-term programming: 

  • Sets clear minimum expectations at the very beginning. This is the common ground you and your athlete will work off throughout the coaching relationship.

  • Starts with an agreed upon minimum time commitment you expect from your athletes to reach their goals. Speak in terms of 3-6 month commitments, make the expected commitment abundantly clear, and stay firm on what you expect during that period of time.

  • Focuses on the results you are achieving together. Focus on the wins and continually set new goals as your athlete improves.

Action Items 

Again, just reading about this isn’t enough. I want you to take the learnings here and put them into action wherever possible. 

Here are your Action Items for this week: 

  • Choose 3 of your current dedicated athletes on your “lessons” plan and talk with them about long term development. Ask them where they want to go, what their goals are, and how you can help them achieve their goals with your new long term development program(s).

  • Clearly define the minimum expectations and commitment as we described it in this post. Post it in their CoachNow Space for easy reference. 

If you need help getting started, just let me know. My team will happily take a look at your offer and give you feedback pro bono.

I’d love to see this work for you. 

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