Through my years of training athletes and the opportunities I've had to see what goes on IN high school weight rooms as well as our athletes telling us about what goes on (or what doesn't go on).....I've had some MAJOR issues with the way I see athletes being trained, or shall I say, being ALLOWED to train.
Is EVERY high school weight room shit?
Hells NO. But, unfortunately, some Coaches REFUSE outside help and refuse to grow & educate themselves, and in the end, it hurts their athletes FOREVER. What I mean by that is it limits the athletes from truly realizing their true potential because they are not getting stronger, faster, more agile, mentally tougher, etc.
The crappy program they are on, along with freedom to perform half reps, quarter reps, crap technique, etc. delivers NO results & is a HUGE liability as the injury factor increases 10 fold with what I see & hear going on.
It's NO secret that being faster, stronger, mentally tougher, more conditioned, more mobile..... ALL those traits help increase chances of winning, so why not find out how to improve these traits, right?
Depends on who you're talking to. LOTS of Coaches don't want help, shame on them for being so lazy & egotistical. It makes me sick because it HURTS the kids.
It sounds cliche but here's the truth, it's ALL about the kids. Period.
You may or may not know, I was a teacher in the town I grew up in for 11 years. For a good 5 or 6 years I had made many efforts to help the high school athletic program but it was always turned down. Even when the Football team was on a looooooong losing streak of 0 - 46 or something to that effect.... maybe it was a few losses less, who knows, the bottom line was they were NOT winning for YEARS, ZERO WINS.
Is that fair? That a kid has to go through high school and never experience one win or only a few wins? Things CAN change if the right education is put into practice. There should be NO options regarding learning how to effectively and safely train high school athletes if you are taking control of the weight room and denying any outside help.
My efforts to help the town I once lived in and worked for were always shot down, excuses were rampant and the bottom line is that you can't work for a town that follows the motto of: "Nothing less than excellence" when the truth is NOT in the motto. It was time to take "Physical Education" into my own hands rather than having my hands tied behind my back.
The bottom line was that this town once upon a time had a powerhouse athletic program across the board, with ALL sports. So when things go to shit, you'd imagine someone would want help.... you'd imagine, someone would TAKE the help being offered.
Training the high school athlete properly does a LOT of GREAT things that goes beyond making them stronger, bigger, faster....
- Proper training increases their confidence BIG time
- Proper training teaches them how to overcome obstacles, handle challenges and understand that to achieve success you must FIGHT for it, success doesn't come easy
- There is NO such thing as entitlement, instead, you EARN everything you get
- Proper training teaches mental toughness
- Proper training teaches discipline
The list goes on and on regarding the benefits of a solid high school athlete training program.
On the flip side, a shitty high school athlete training program will deliver ZERO benefit to the athlete and the team as a whole. What's a "shitty program" look like? Keep on reading....
When I did see what was going on in the weight room of this town, this is just some of what I saw:
- 1 arm curls off an incline bench
- 95% talking / 5% actually TRYING to train
- 1/4 Squat.... not even 1/2 squats
- Squatting onto a bungee chord
- HUGE psyche up sessions for squats with 3 spotters, a BIG ass pad to replace the need for BIG ass traps and a strong back
- NO coaching of technique, just shouting and screaming
- Round back trap bar deadlifts with knees caving in.
On another day I witnessed a "testing day".
I guess 14 and 15 year olds needs to get tested on their 1RM on squats, bench press, power cleans (aka the strange jumping jack, reverse curl, back bend combo while holding a barbell & attempting to kill yourself exercise), etc.
I recall the squats looking something similar to the video below, with ALL spotters unsure of what to do, the Football Coach insisting the athlete adds weight to the bar when I saw from a mile away the kid was NOT physically or mentally ready for this weight and even the spotters were untrained as to how to spot.
This stuff pisses me off.
Kudos to the Coaches who are open mined and forward thinking and take time to learn how to organize a safe and effective high school weight training program. Shame on the Coaches who are close minded and "too cool for school" and refuse any outside help.
What's with the ego? It's NOT about you, it's about the KIDS.
When I began teaching Physical Education and coaching wrestling, I had the same beginning feelings towards being a Strength & Performance Coach. I did it because I cared. I did it because the # 1 focus was on helping the kids get better at sports AND life. It came down to caring, plain and simple. My passion for helping kids drove me to keep on learning and it still drives me to this day!
A TRUE Coach will do whatever it takes to educate himself / herself so the end result becomes helping these athletes become better at sport and most importantly, at life.
Here's a GREAT Video from my friends Joe Kenn & Jim Wendler (click to 4:30 on this video)
Here are a few quick tips to follow up on what Joe is expressing for training younger AND incoming high school athletes:
1) Perform a baseline program utilizing bodyweight training & gymnastics drills for 3 months minimum and don't be afraid to continue bodyweight training & gymnastics drills for up to 6 months. From there utilize simple dumbbell movements to further build the foundation.
2) Perform exercises that are easy to learn and bring about a powerful return in results.
Here is a short list of some of those exercises:
- Push Ups & ALL the variations of push ups
- Progress to handstand holds & eventually handstand push ups
- Pull Ups with varied grips
- If Pull Ups are too difficult do NOT use band assisted pull ups, make them EARN that shit! Utilize recline rowing on a bar or on ropes to enhance grip strength.
- Perform recline rope climbs
- Progress to rope climbing
- Kettlebell farmer walks. Every set begins with a PERFECT deadlift and ends with a perfect deadlift. Strength is a skill, practice of strength will get your athletes stronger.
- Back Extensions with bodyweight and eventually added weight.
- Sled Drags
- Hand over hand sled pulls with rope while holding squat position
- Squats / Lunges
- Jumping Rope
- Hill Sprints
[youtube width="640" height="390"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCln_Kqxnvw[/youtube]
3) Perform tumbling and basic gymnastics drills as part of the warm up. Perform these on the grass or on any safe surface. Check the surface if unsure (gotta watch for things like dog shit, glass, stones, etc - trust me, been there, done that 🙂
What are the basic gymnastic drills to include during the warm up?
- forward rolls & shoulder rolls, dive rolls
- backward rolls & progress to back extensions
- cartwheels & round offs
- combo drills: cartwheel into shoulder roll OR round offs into back extensions, etc.
4) Provide a supportive AND competitive atmosphere.
- Athletes love to compete, you can still have them compete with bodyweight exercises
- Give feedback on technique, constantly reinforcing technique. If you coach one athlete, give feedback LOUD so ALL the others can hear you and benefit from your coaching
- Bust out your multiple personalities. Some kids respond great to getting in their face, cursing at them and getting loud, others might respond best to encouragement and constant reminders that they are getting better and YOU might be the only person who ever says anything nice to them!
[youtube width="640" height="390"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1vwmvCgVGQ[/youtube]
Well, this blog post wound up being WAY longer than expected, I hope you enjoyed it.
If you did, please click the like button and share this bad boy out with facebook, twitter, etc. I would appreciate that BIG time 🙂
PS: It's rare to find a book dedicated to training athletes that REALLY breaks it down in an easy to understand manner yet still kicks serious ass, VERY RARE.