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Running A Side Business As A Strength & Conditioning Coach

Deerick Smith
Feb 26, 2020

For years’ coaches in general have been underpaid. While this is beginning to change in some regards we all would like to make more money.  In coaching for quite some time coaches have been viewed as a “sell out” or “just trying to make a buck” if they tried to branch out from their normal income.  We are one of the only fields where trying to make as much money as possible is frowned upon.  All it takes is some creative thinking, willingness to make a few people mad, and stepping out of your comfort zone to be able to add different sources of revenue.

As a Strength and Conditioning professional there are many different ways to produce additional income aside from your primary job.  Rather it be personal training, group training, classes or online programming there are a multitude of ways to go about it.  I will be sharing my philosophy and how I have used these different ways being in my current situation and the nuances and problems I have encountered with each of them. 

I am currently a full time employee and Strength and Conditioning Coach at the High School level.  We provide three training times to boys and girls athletics during the day which are grouped by their grades and a one-time slot after school for all grades. Although we provide these free times I still have athletes and parents reach out to me asking about additional offerings in terms of personal training or extra sessions available.  As a young coach it wasn’t uncommon for me to arrive at the facility at 4 am and leave at 8 pm all while just getting my base pay rate from the school.  However, over time I have changed from this approach.  If it is something that is going to take time away from my family and from activities that I like to do myself then I am going to have to be compensated for it.  No one would ask a mechanic to fix cars for free so I’m not going to train people for free.

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Coaches for years have spent unpaid hours away from family and complained about not being paid for it so I decided to change this and have begun charging for additional training services outside of school hours or stipend covered hours.  With regards to how I go about it when it involves athletes that attend our school district I am allowed to use the school’s facilities.  If it is athletes that attend another district, then I train them at my home facility or the local community center. You will want to check with your states athletic associations rules in terms of being employed at one school and training athletes from another, this is why I set up a licensed business and bank account.  Our state currently has a rule that their sport coach and athletic director must sign paper work stating it is ok for them to work with another coach from a different school even if it is at a private facility.  This has been said to me that it is for cutting down on recruiting however I view it as a state authority overstepping their bounds.  They wouldn’t make a coach who owned a restaurant sign a form to serve kids from another school food so why should a coach who owns a training business have to sign a form to provide training, at the end of the day both are providing a service.   My rate is $40 an hour as we are in a smaller district in the South and higher rates just aren’t feasible for most.  It is not uncommon to have six to eight sessions a week year round which can lead to a substantial supplement in terms of income. I train not only athletes but several general population clients as well throughout the year.

 Another avenue I have utilized to increase revenue has been group classes. I started a class on Tuesday nights when I first took the job and called it “Movement for moms” once again at first I just simply did it with the cost of admission being a box of granola bars for our athletes from each person. The original motive for the class was just to get moms of the female athletes at the school comfortable with sending their daughters to the weight room as when I first took over our girls S&C program was extremely limited.  As it grew I decided to change the cost to $5 per person that attended the class.  This class is currently done at our school facility every Tuesday nearly every week of the year, again while not a big take home each night we usually average around eight to twelve individuals so over the course of the year it adds up.  One thing you need to understand when doing group classes geared towards adults is the fact that you are not training young athletes.   These clients often do not have a large amount of training under their belt and have used movements and patterns that are less than efficient for a long period of time.  I suggest beginning them at the basic level of athletic development and growing as their training experience grows.

Perhaps the biggest revenue stream I have added as a Strength and Conditioning professional has been online programming for teams, schools and individuals.  This requires a lot of work on the front end but doesn’t require near as much time away from home in terms of going out and having to actually train individuals.  Upon becoming certified I realized at the High School, and even small college level there was a large amount of schools that did not employ a full time certified strength coach and due to budget issues may not be able to even if they wanted to.  This provided an interesting idea to me as to where I could program for these schools in these situations and teach their coaches how to run these programs properly. 

I currently program for one college softball program, three high school football programs, two junior high football programs and am in the works for programming for an entire district 7-12 for every sport they offer.  This has been the best service in terms of adding larger amounts of income up front.  While this is a great way to increase revenue for yourself it is not perfect. One thing you have to deal with is the fact that while many will do a great job utilizing your program you are not there yourself to coach the little nuances of training and development the way you would in person so that is hard to come to terms with. You also have to deal with sport coaches ideas of what the program “should” look like and them thinking from the mindset of “this is how I have always done it”.  However, if you take time to explain the different phases of your program and ask for their input on small matters it will go a long way in earning their trust. Individual programs have also been great; I currently have twelve clients I am working with on an individual programming basis. They let me know what they have access to and their goals and then I design a six-week program to fit their needs. 

If you are really looking to growing your side business I recommend actually licensing your business for tax purposes.  I established ours as an LLC titled Smith Performance LLC. This allows us to accept purchase orders from schools as most schools are paying with card and check over cash.  For card purchases I use the square app, for personal training its either cash, venmo, cashapp or paypal.  All these are then deposited into our business account at the end of each training week.

Again coaches have worked for free for entirely too long and it is important for us to be compensated.  In any other field on earth it isn’t frowned upon to try to make as much money as possible so I do not believe our field should be any different. I know people view what I do often as “He is just trying to make money” and they are 100% correct. I am providing a service, my clients believe that I do a good job of it so why would I not charge and try to provide a better living for my family and myself.  If you are good at something never do it for free.

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