How To Motivate Your Clients

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Pretty sure we’ve probably all seen at least one Rocky movie (or in our case, a lot of them!), or another movie that shows a coach/trainer screaming at their student. Is this the right way to motivate your clients?

Answer: Depends on the client

Like any relationship, the farther along you are in a coaching relationship, the more you and the client learn about each other. In regard to motivation, you’ll learn what motivates and demotivates your client to get the most out of them both in training and on race day.


The best way to find out what style of coaching, or what things motivate a client is to ask. While seemingly simple, you’d be surprised how many coaches skip this step and assume that all clients will respond favorably to the same style of motivation.

For example, by asking, you might find out that a client hates to be yelled at but responds well to polite encouragement. Now, if you assumed that all clients wanted to be motivated by being screamed at bootcamp style, you’d likely lose this client in the process.

So first off… ask!


Some clients are very self-motivated. This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to motivate them but if you’re lucky enough to have a client like this, it’s a good thing! These are the clients that get up day in and day out at 4am to get in their workouts before work and more often than not, do so with a smile on their face.


The polar opposite of the aforementioned client is the one that takes every ounce of energy to motivate them. A former colleague of mine used to call these clients, “Life Force Suckers”… for obvious reasons. These clients are typically the ones that require constant encouraging and hand holding to get them to the start line (and hopefully, the finish line).


Most clients will fall somewhere in between the two types of clients noted above. Successfully motivating clients relies heavily on being a good listener, being able to ‘read people’ and knowing what makes your clients tick. However, regardless of how a client likes to be motivated, unless you are able to effectively communicate with them, you will not be able to fully understand how and when they need to be motivated.


How you talk to, and motivate a client also depends on the particular situation. Are you motivating them with 100 meters to go in a race or are you speaking to them on the phone after a bad race? In both situations, you should be focused on motivating them but the way you go about it should be very different. Your tone, choice of words and body language all affect how your client will perceive your message.


In order to understand how to motivate a client, you must know what their primary motivational factors are. For example, a client might be motivated by the possibility of winning a race, whereas others might be motivated by just getting to the start line. Other common factors are weight loss, hitting a PR, raising money for a charity, stress reduction and accomplishing a bucket list goal. In other words, you must get to know your client as much as possible to be able to motivate them properly.

Rick Prince

Rick Prince

Founder/Director of United Endurance Sports Coaching Academy (UESCA).

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