In all fairness to our school's coaches there has always been an interest to develop strength in our athletes. However, this has always been limited to small groups of kids such as the wrestlers or the shot putters, not the overall school body.
This summer we saw our numbers remains consistent from week 1 to week 9 reaching most sport programs except for those in which a coach forbid his athletes to participate. Even in those cases we had some representatives present for training.
We attribute much of our success this summer to the following:
- Enthusiastic Coaches: In a reflection of strength training America we, as coaches, disagreed about various elements of a training regimen. However, our desire to "coach 'em-up" was strong and philosophies took a back seat to training, supervision, and motivation. We created an atmosphere that was non-threatening to the novice lifters and at the same time challenging to our more experienced athletes. The kids never knew what elements of the training were liked or disliked by various coaches... That wasn't important to us... hard work, commitment, and improvement was.
- Full Body Routines: By employing a full body routine we found that we could limit our workouts to three days a week. In reality, three days was almost too much for our really intense kids. We had to use three days a week as the Strength and Conditioning class was being offered for credit and the kids had to have X amount of hours. However, we were able to work the kids heavy and hard on Monday and Friday while Wednesday was used to practice form and technique. Also, when dealing with large numbers of kids you find that attendance is more important to some than to others. We felt that a split body routine three-times a week would leave behind the kid who seemed to sleep in at least once a week.
- Educational Lectures: We would spend time early on talking to the kids in a class room setting. Topics would include basics such as how to fill out the workout card and proper lifting form. We felt that it was extremely important to educate the kids on muscle-fiber recruitment and the importance of working to momentary muscular fatigue. Realistically, not all the kids understood or wanted to understand these issues, but many did and we could see the carry-over in the weight room intensity.
- Individual Attention: We feel that each athlete deserves individual attention. Athletes are not created with cookie cutters and thus cannot be given cookie cutter exercise advice. Boys appreciated knowing how to use strength training to gain weight while the girls were excited to learn how to lose weight. Some kids were injured... They performed alternative movements. Some kids would plateau in strength... They were treated according to their intensity levels. Some were given time off while others were given intensifying techniques. In any case, the athletes came to regard us as trusted advisers. They came to us with questions as opposed to seeking advice from the latest gimmic being tauted in the latest issue of MuscleMag. One athlete, who works for the local MLB team, came to us with a duffle bag full of nutritional supplements that he was given at the stadium. Instead of mixing up a worthless batch of Power-in-a-Bottle to show off in front of his GNC worshipping friends he came to us. He wanted to know what they were and what they were supposed to do before he used them. How many 16 year old kids trust coaches enough to do that?
In conclusion, the summer of 2002 was productive for our athletes. We grew as coaches, learning how to compromise and support each others values. Most importantly we grew stronger, literally. We wish all you football coaches the best of luck as your seasons get underway. Coach 'em-up!"