I am going to play the bad guy for a few minutes here. I feel a fire in my gut. Maybe it’s the adrenaline from running summer football groups. Maybe it’s the 120 oz. of coffee I just consumed. Or maybe it’s the 4 days I just spent backpacking on an island full of bears. I don’t know. But the testosterone is flowing and I want to rant.
Time for some of my unpopular opinions on strength and conditioning.
#1. Keep it simple.
90% of the programs I see administered are far too complicated for high school athletes. Regardless of the talent level on the field, high school athletes are novices in the weight room. They have a huge window for adaptation to basic stimuli, and you want to exploit this window for all it’s worth.
Why are you driving yourself crazy trying to run percentage based programs with 14 and 15 year old high school kids. Doesn’t anyone remember Strength Training 101? It’s called progressive overload folks. Teach your kids to squat, make them proficient at it, and you progressively load the bar 5-10 lbs each week. This shit works, we know it works. So why are you trying to run Westside templates or conjugate methods with freshmen in high school? Does that stuff work? Definitely. Is it necessary at this level? Absolutely not. Make it simple. You can still be powerful with weights without dedicating max effort and dynamic effort days. You just teach yours kids to accelerate weights instead of assuming that the numbers do it for them. If you do a great job coaching for a few years, then yea, you may need something more complex with your seniors. But I am telling you, I work in a lot of high schools and just about every kid I see is a novice. So exploit it.
That leads me to my next point.
#2. Teach your kids, damn it.
I am so tired of being in weight rooms with “coaches” berating athletes for better effort or more weight without ever hearing them actually TEACH their kids how to do the lifts. Instead you end up with 15 year old kids grinding away at weights too heavy, doing sloppy lifts and complaining about back/shoulder/knee pain.
How do you expect your kids to give you good results if you haven’t given them the tools to get the job done. Take the time to teach your kids. I know time is short, it’s the summer and we only have a few weeks. This is a building process. It is most definitely worth the investment now to take the time to master these lifts.
Teach them to squat. Teach them to press. Teach them to row/pull up. Teach them to lunge. Teach them to hinge. Teach them to be forceful. Teach them to put effort and focus into their training. And then teach it all over again.
Don’t just load the bar and expect good things, it’s not going to happen.
Which, again, leads me to my next point.
#3. Don’t skip the warm up.
I would have thought this was an easy one, but holy shit, I was wrong. Why are you trying to rush through this. Why are you so anxious to get the bar on their back in the first 2 minutes through the door. What better way to teach our basic patterns. What better way to give clear instructions and make sure everyone is on the same page. What better way to get your kids focused on the task at hand. Take the time to lead a 10-15 minute group warm up. Holy hell, what a novel idea. I know all of you think your program is too advanced for this, but you are dead wrong. No one athlete, of any age, ability, sport should ever skip the warm up.
I would argue that a well-organized and executed warm up is the most important part of any program. I don’t just mean jogging and shuffling. I mean, teaching proper motor patterns when we squat/lunge/plank/push up. I mean teaching sprint mechanics/jumping/landing/bounding.
If I walked on to the field and we only had 30 minutes. I would do 15 minutes of warm up. 10 minutes of speed. 5 minutes of conditioning. Too often when I watch other coaches on the field, I see 2 minutes of warm up. 0 minutes of actual quality speed work. And 28 minutes of sloppy, screaming, puking, conditioning work.
#4. Familiarize yourself with energy systems.
The biggest deficiency I notice when I speak to coaches is a lack of understanding on energy systems. Now, this can be a confusing subject at times and I think everyone, myself included, can always be improving our understanding of the physiological systems under stress. I posted an article a few weeks ago on this, it can be found here. Review this, and let’s all start to learn this together. I will get a new, more indepth article on energy systems in the next 10 days.
All I am saying is, there is a science to training. So we are coaches spending so much time guessing about everything they do?
If nothing else. Be ENTHUSIASTIC. Your kids will work hard for you, if you show them you are excited and engaged in what you are doing. If you make it feel like a chore, they will treat it like a chore.
Train hard, friends.