Dr. H: How to Build a Successful Sports Practice
Alum Column by Hirad Najaf Bagy, DC (Dr. H)
How to Build a Successful Sports Practice. The start of my career might sound familiar: I worked with local running groups and high schools, basically, any sports-related work I could get my hands on. Eventually, someone affiliated with D.C. United came to see me, and had great results. I became their team chiropractor, and we still work with them 26 years later.
It took twelve years before the NFL Commanders came knocking at my door, and more teams came from there. Building a sports practice is slow, hard work, and there is no shortcut. But if you stay focused, show up, and work hard, it can be an incredibly rewarding career. Here’s my advice:
Whether you’re working with the NHL or a casual running group, you need to show up. I know work-life balance is a big topic right now, but these athletes have sacrificed a lot to get where they are. You can’t skip their third game because you’re on vacation. Sports practice means crazy hours; sometimes it will be uncomfortable.
Elite teams hire solely by referrals from someone they respect, usually an orthopedist or athletic trainer. Somebody goes, “Wow, I saw this doctor, she’s amazing, she shows up at every game.” That’s how you get in the door.
Work Hard & Hone Your Greatest Tool: Your Hands.
Your best tool is your hands. What we bring to the table is an amazing understanding of anatomy and how we can use our hands to repair injuries.
People think sports work is about fancy tools. These teams already have the most expensive machines in the world. They don’t need that. They need someone who’s skilled with their hands.
Leave Your Ego at the Door.
As a sports chiropractor, you’ll work with doctors who may not have exposure to chiropractic.
Everyone working for these teams is the best of the best. If you don’t collaborate well and understand your role, you’re never going to succeed. Don’t try to seem smarter than the other doctors. Let your work speak for itself.
Support Each Other and the Profession.
We can only benefit from more collaboration. Like I said, building a sports practice is slow work—so why not leave doors open for the next chiropractors?
If we work together, chiropractors can support all the teams out there—from the young athletes to the pros. When we collaborate and support each other, we open doors not just for the individuals who come after us, but for the profession as a whole.
Dr. Hirad Najaf Bagy (Dr. H) has been working with professional sports teams for over 25 years. He owns and works out of United Wellness & Sports Rehab, where he employs up to seven chiropractors and two physical therapists across 4 locations. He serves as the team sports chiropractor for the Washington Commanders, Nationals, Capitals, and D.C. United.
Now that you’ve read how to build a successful sports practice, are you ready to start your journey to becoming a chiropractor? Check out NWHSU’s Sports and Rehabilitation Emphasis.