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3 Ways to Hold Your Students Accountable

Holding your students accountable is an important part of coaching. Follow these tips to help them hold the standard.


As a coach, accountability is the name of the game, right? After all, you can only guide your athletes to the water. They must do the drinking themselves. How do you get these men and women to get what they want for themselves?

The idea of accountability is a big one. It’s often corny when talked about, too, and us coaches can’t always give Rudy speeches with everlasting effect. In that way, I’ve put together three easy ways to hold your athletes accountable.

1. Have a Conversation About What They Want

There are a million ways to on-ramp students into CrossFit successfully, but regardless of which style you choose to enroll your members, it’s important to get clear as to why they are there. Your students will tell you what they want if you ask them. This conversation is more important than you think and, in my opinion, the more formal the better.

We at Deuce Gym have a formal “Intro Session” meeting, which starts with exactly this. We learn (and write down) what each prospective member feels isn’t right about their health and fitness. We also address what tends to hold them back (time management, work, stress, motivation, etc.). And finally, we ask them what they’d like to look, feel and perform like.

Related:Programming to Incentive Fitness

Half of this process is about getting to know our students, and half of it is about holding them accountable. Nearly every athlete will hit a rough patch, and when a student doesn’t show up for a few days or drifts away, there’s no better way to hold the person accountable than by reminding him or her about what you talked about in the beginning.

2. Let Them Know When They Don’t Show Up

Virtually no student of mine has been upset that I reached out to them after a missed week of training. They want you to care, and when you show them that you notice when they’re gone, it keeps them in the game.

This will take some awareness and sensitivity about how to contact them (email, phone, Facebook, etc.) and how often, but it’s an important accountability piece nonetheless.

3. Charge What Your Product Is Worth

All too often in the CrossFit community, I see gyms and coaches more fearful of losing potential business than they are of setting a standard for what their product is worth. Financial topics often feel like business decisions, but we often describe our (expensive) membership structure and longer term (three, six or 12 months to start) commitments as strategic coaching policies, not business ones. At the end of the day, we will be OK whether an individual signs up for our gym or not, but most people are knocking on your door because they haven’t yet cracked the code on this basic idea of showing up to the gym consistently and putting in the work.

Related: Your CrossFit Gym Is Only As Scalable As It Feels

That being said, if your gym isn’t too expensive to miss out on, it’s tough to hold your students accountable. Furthermore, if they don’t have to commit to anything to sign up, why would you expect them to all of the sudden change their on-again-off-again fitness habits with you?

No matter how good your programming is or how savvy your coaching cues are, if your athletes aren’t compliant to your program, you won’t have the desired effect on them. I’d argue that holding your athletes accountable could be the most important job you have.

Good luck!