Coaching is my passion. This is how I identify myself. I don’t care how many seminars I give, how many manuals I write or how much people pay for my services. I’m a Coach to the core. I received a testimonial from an audience member at a seminar I gave once and it has always been the most touching and gratifying thing I have ever read. “Fritzie is a COACH. Capitalization intended.” (Thanks T.Glover).Not everyone can write programs that work well - it is a skill that requires time, trial and error as well as practice. So my hope is that my fellow coaches and trainers can learn something from this page and use it to better improve their training/teaching style.
Theres an adage, "If you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail". A lot of people probably dislike me because I'm not a cut and dry, black-and-white issue person. I won't just tell you to "do this" or "do that." I'm pretty sure that "it depends" is the correct answer to 90% of the questions I'm asked regarding corrective exercise and strength and conditioning. I get irritated when I see people trying to go "one-size-fits-all" with fitness training. Obviously, this has implications in terms of performance and physique improvements. Do not try to jam a round peg in a square hole because it can lead to injuries. You've got to make sure the training suits the trainee. Don't just train young kids (youth sports and young high school athletes), make sure they are being developed. Movement must dominate the training - not body parts. Lastly, open self to communicate variances by using the right learning style for each “child”.
Training kids and young athletes is so much more than just the ‘x’ and ‘o’ factors. There are intangible factors. Two very important ones are listed below.
1. It’s not always what you want to say that matters - it’s what they want to hear. That doesn’t mean you need to placate to your athletes or not say what it is you need to or want to say. But you have to relay your message in a way that it will be received. This is the number one concern I see in youth sports, youth fitness and even school. We expect all children and teens to learn the same way and be open to our messages irrespective of how they are offered. Creating effective programs is the science. But, implementing them effectively is the art. Understand the science but more importantly, BE an artists. Use it to create successful and developmentally-sound training programs.
2. Coaching, learning and communication variances per athlete are unique but ‘energy’ is the single factor a coach can bring to the table each and every time. It’s what makes the difference between a good coach and a great one.
Most Trainers and Coaches don’t have a clue what they are doing. That isn’t meant to sound horribly negative, just something I’ve noticed a lot recently. I was reading a textbook recently that contained the following program for a high school football player:
a. Hang Cleans - 4 sets, 8 reps
b. Bench Press - 4 sets, 6 - 8 reps
c. Incline Bench Press - 4 sets, 6 - 8 reps
d. Front Pull Down - 4 sets, 8 reps
e. Dumbbell Shoulder Press - 4 sets, 8 reps
f. 1-Arm Dumbbell Row - 4 sets, 8 reps (each)
That is a Horrible Program!!!!!!!
The average 6 - 8 rep set takes roughly 45 seconds to perform. Each exercise lists ‘4 sets’ as the objective. There are six exercises in total. Six exercises at four sets each, is a total of 24 sets for the session. At 45 seconds per, that totals 18 minutes of working time. Roughly 2 minutes of recovery time will take place in between each set, which amounts to 8 minutes of total recovery per exercise. With six exercises in total, that amounts to 48 minutes in total. Combined with the 18 minutes of total work load, this training session will take roughly 70 minutes to perform.
Here are my concerns:
a. 70 minutes is far too long for high school training programs
b. 70 minutes does not include any sort of warm-up or cool-down
c. The work/rest relationship is roughly 1:3 - unacceptable. 2nd point: 12 sets = pushing vs 8 sets = pulling. You don’t need to know much about athletic development or functional anatomy to know that this ratio is entirely unacceptable.
Things you want to think about: Do high school athletes really need to perform a horizontal pushing motion from two different angles? Are bilateral movements from start to finish the best option when trying to create a functionally fit and injury resistant athlete? Does the program outlined above seem way too much like a standard bodybuilding program?
The key to creating effective training programs is to start with objectives.Yet ANOTHER reason I am not a fan of assessing biomotor abilities in young athletes. If you are intent on testing there vertical jump, bench, squat and 40 time, than your programming is going to naturally focus on improving these elements - and be limited in other areas as a result.
Heres the main thing you should focus on. What do your young athletes need in terms of:
- Injury Prevention
- Age Related Factors of Development
- On Field Performance
- Correction of Body/Structural Dysfunction
Take Home Message: When you identify your athletes’ needs, you have a much broader and more complete understanding of the objectives necessary in creating an effective program.