How Starbucks Coffee Improved My Skills as a Strength and Conditioning Coach

Being a strength and conditioning coach isn’t all sunshine and roses. We often work long days, and sacrifice a lot of family-work life balance in the process. A regular day for us here at Redline begins with a 5am wakeup call, a completely random and scattered break (usually mid-day, somewhere in the 11am-2pm time frame) and then late nights (until 9pm-10pm, depending on the day). However, this is part of what we sign up for when we pursue success in the field. And having too much business that keeps you working 16 hours a day is hardly anything to complain about.
Unfortunately, with these long hours (and days that seem like they drag on and on), it’s easy to become laxidasical with clients later in the day. Seeing as we train a lot of youth athletes during the night hours, this is simply unacceptable. Youth athletes often need constant reinforcement and cueing in order to maintain proper technique and movement patterns needed for success, and simply running them through the motions so you can get home faster is no way to treat any client, yet alone a young athlete looking to build solid foundations for their future. This is a lesson I learned, believe it or not, from Starbucks Coffee. Allow me to explain…


I have never had a bad experience at Starbucks. They always treat me with courtesy and respect when I am being served. What’s more is that instead of taking my order and leaving me wait at the counter, they interact with me until my drink is ready. They take genuine interest in my upcoming weekend plans, and they go out of their way to ensure that my experience is optimal. In Howard Behar’s book “It’s Not About the Coffee”, the former Starbucks Senior Executive discusses the motto behind their success, and how Starbucks is a people serving business and not a café shop. “If you think of your customers and communities as the people you serve (not sources of revenue), you’ll make a deep connection with them, and they’ll come back over and over”. I’ll let you read that again…

“If you think of your customers and communities as the people you serve (not sources of revenue), you’ll make a deep connection with them, and they’ll come back over and over”.

Why should training be any different? If Starbucks can interact with me while I’m waiting for my coffee, why should I be able to prescribe an exercise and then have the client go on their way without actively coaching them? Regardless of the client (young or old, experienced or beginner, adult or athlete) this should always be the goal. Late nights when you’re tired, or early mornings when you are still half-asleep is no excuse. Wake yourself up, put on a happy face, crack some jokes, build some rapport and COACH. Too often I see and hear of fitness facilities who simply run their clients (adult or athlete) through exercises on a board, or whatever their clipboard says, instead of actively COACHING the client. Sure, walking around and motivating your client by cheering and clapping is one thing, but if you aren’t actively assessing and correcting EACH movement the client is partaking in, you aren’t doing your job. If your child or their team is working out at a facility and the coaches aren’t frantically walking around and correcting each child for the entire session, your money is being wasted. Remember the cardinal rule of fitness: fitness should never ever be for the sole sake of getting a sweat on.


What can I do to determine if my facility is treating me properly?

  1. Take the time to get educated on the coaches and facilities with which you entrust you or your child’s services to
  2. Ask the questions
  3. Stick around and observe your child’s training session
  4. If something looks or feels weird, awkward or wrong, chances are it is. Don’t allow it to go uncorrected.
  5. Take note of whether or not the coach is taking the time to correct improper movements and positions. Remember, anyone can cheer you on and make you sweat. Not everyone can make you better.

Train Smart and Hard.

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