Sports Training & Conditioning Zone!

Hiring the Right Sports Performance Coach

By: Bill Parisi

One nagging problem that dogs every owner and program director across our network is the ability to locate, recruit, train and keep great performance coaches. It seems to be our industry's Achilles heel. I am convinced however that awesome trainers are available, so my response to owners that utter that phrase, "If I could only find good, quality trainers" is, "Maybe you are looking in the wrong places."

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of personal trainers has been growing steadily for several years now. In addition, personal training was listed as one of the top 15 most desirable fields to work in. This trend clearly indicates that a plethora of good trainers are out there and available. So, why aren't you able to find them for your club?

When hiring a trainer one of two scenarios commonly play out. The wrong person is hired. This could occur for a variety of reasons including lack of experience on the part of the interviewer, failure to check references (people always make themselves look good on paper), an owner's desperation to fill a position, etc. Or, the right person is hired, but fails to receive the tools and resources needed to succeed. Often the owner or manager makes promises to the incoming hire, but then fails to live up to the promises made during the 'courting stage.' In both cases the employee will inevitably leave, either on his/her own, or be asked to leave. A bad hire can cost your company up to 24 times the person's salary according to Brad Smart, Ph.D. in his book Topgrading.

One of the smartest and easiest things an owner or manager can do is to profile your current top people and determine what specifically makes them the best. Are the skills of your best trainers inherent or teachable? What makes certain trainers poor at their role?

Most owners will hire trainers based on educational background, experience and certification. I have found that these are the least important criteria to building a successful training department. Here is my list of hiring criteria in order of importance:

• Attitude
• Aptitude
• Cultural Fit
• Certification
• Educational background
• Experience

You might be shocked to see certification, educational background and experience at the bottom of the list. Sometimes the most educated and experienced trainers are also the most arrogant, self-promoting and egotistical trainers. These types can drain emotional resources and eventually destroy your team.

Some of our best and most valued producers in our 80+ location network were once bank tellers, bond traders, house painters, and even laborers and UPS workers. You have an opportunity to build a great team if the individual coaches possess the right attitude and aptitude to learn. Anyone possessing these qualities can get certified and become a successful personal trainer and youth performance coach for your organization.

To learn more about how to find great people, or work for an organization that provides one of the best platforms to grow your career in the fitness industry, please reach out to me at You can also check out our link below to watch a 3 minute video on how the Parisi Speed School can help your facility capture the growing youth market.

Bill Parisi is the Founder & CEO of Parisi Franchise Systems. Visit to learn more.

(July 2014)