6 Step Athlete Retention Formula
Here are six key steps to great retention. They're all very simple, but as always, the key is in the execution. You've got to really work at these and it's important that everyone on your staff is fully on board.
Step 1: Be happy to see them. This sounds so simple, but it has to be sincere. Are you genuinely happy to see your athletes when they come in for practice? If so, then let it show. Keep this in mind: Everyone wants to feel valued. So, imagine that each of your athletes and parents wears a sign that says, "Make me feel important." If you can accomplish this, you are on your way to great retention.
Step 2: Encourage socialization: Look for ways to get your athletes to form bonds with one another. Encourage them to encourage each other. Pair them up with the right people. Have social events at your academy. Go out of your way to create an environment in which your athletes will build friendships. When you accomplish this, your athletes will want to come to class to train with their friends. So on that day when they really don't feel like coming to practice, they will.
Step 3: Keep them challenged. The key to this is balance. You don't want them to get bored because they master the material too easily and you don't want to push them so hard that they feel like they'll never get it. But if you can find that level where they're always striving for goals they believe they can reach, they'll be fully engaged in every practice. And they'll be excited to come to the next practice. And the next practice after that...
Step 4: Hold them accountable. Again, this is all about finding the right level. This is not about "holding their feet to the fire." It's much subtle than that. And it's important to be aware that different athletes need different levels of accountability. Some thrive on it. To others who are highly self-motivated, it can feel insulting. But everyone has a level that is just right for them. And if you hold your athletes accountable in a way that suits them well, they will all appreciate it.
Step 5: Be flexible. Sometimes stuff comes up. It just does. And when your athletes need to adjust their schedule or if they need some one-on-one time, your flexibility will be a strong reminder that you are all-in for their success. Your flexibility removes reasons to quit and builds very strong loyalty to your program.
Step 6: Give them feedback. Here again, it's important to find the right level. Keep in mind that different people respond better to different kinds of feedback. Some people want you to give it to them straight. Others need a more subtle approach. You'll quickly learn how much is too much and how much is too little for any athlete.