Enhancing Athlete Buy-In

Scott Littlefield MS, CN, CISSN

Part I: Results over everything.

Athletes buy into nutrition when they clearly see and experience how much it will improve outcomes valuable to them, just like everybody else. That’s basic human motivation.

They appreciate, respect, listen, and are excited to give you their time and effort when you provide clear value to them. What do your athletes care about? Help them achieve it. But, I need to be their friend first so they’ll...False. You need to be friendly (and have some fun and add some levity), but they’re not looking for another friend. They have plenty of friends they can get nutrition advice from if they want. But, I just need more time on the floor with them so I’m around when they have questions… False. Why would you wait? You have to be proactive to succeed. They can’t self-diagnose. What other coaches wait around to fix a problem until the athlete has a question about it?

Discussion of general performance and health outcomes can move athletes into contemplation. But, moving athletes beyond requires clearly connecting nutrition with specific, valuable results. It’s not enough to say that getting enough carbohydrate in is important because it is quick-energy that increases time to fatigue or performance in the weight room or on the field. How much does it increase time to fatigue? How will that translate to their specific training and competition? Paint a picture with the research or craft a story with others who made this change and saw results.

Then it’s about actually getting each athlete results – ensuring that those results are significant, relatively low-effort, and realized by the athlete. If not, then your asks aren’t worth their time (so you better darn well prioritize interventions to get the biggest bang for their buck).

In private practice settings, athletes go out of their way to invest their own time, money, and effort in nutrition…why?

  • Athletes establish clear paths to achievement of personal goals. (They understand exactly why those paths will lead them to success and they receive straightforward evaluations, specific education, and supported steps to change.)

  • All tasks make it consciously easier to achieve what is valuable to them (and are thoughtfully prioritized).

  • Results are constantly attained, identified, and praised.

  • Teammates have valuable experiences with the practitioner and encourage engagement.

Athlete buy-in comes from results. It starts with results. It grows with results. It is sustained by results.

Fuelogics... We care about results.

Scott Littlefield MS, CN, CISSN

Scott co-owns a private practice - ViTL Nutrition - where he works one-on-one with athletes as well as with programs from high school to professional levels across the country. He is a founding member of Fuelogics. These days you'll likely find him testing the boundaries of strength, size, and the mile-run or the limits of human taco consumption.