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5 Things I Wish Coaches Would Understand

There is a large rift between sport coaches and strength/performance coaches. Part of this rift is due to Instagram influencers doing bogus "sport specific" workouts, part of it is due to performance coaches overeagerness to use big words and flex their brain muscles, and part of it is sport coaches unwillingness to let go of "what we did back in my day". This article will attack 5 things that if coaches took to heart would make their teams much more potent.


STOP RUNNING SUICIDES

Conditioning is one of the most butchered activities at every level of sports. We consistently see athletes running a mind numbing amount of pointless laps, suicides, gassers, miles, poles, etc. Our sport culture seems to treat "being in shape" as the most prized attribute of all. We are so afraid of being out of shape that we beat that poor horse to death. What if I told you, your conditioning is probably making your athletes slower, more prone to injury, and less conditioned for their sport. Fresh teams win in the post season and fourth quarter, not well conditioned teams. For a much more in depth explanation on the intricacies of conditioning see our post "Conditioning for Sport Coaches".


JOY IS COOL

Yeah I know, joy is not nearly as cool as mental toughness and discipline, but it could be the key difference between wins/losses and so much more. If you watched the Baylor Bears Men's basketball team win the national championship in 2021, then you know what I mean. They had fostered an environment where their athletes were allowed to play the sport they love with joy. This allows for a certain level of freedom, confidence and motivation unmatched by an authoritarian, disciplinarian coaching style. I know it sounds soft, and I understand the challenges with keeping a bunch of athletes in check; however, don't be afraid to allow your athletes to have fun and foster a joyful environment.


FATIGUE ACCUMULATES

Stress can be good or it can be bad. Exercise is actually an example of stress. We lift weights or play our sport which breaks down the muscles leaving them weaker than before. Assuming we sleep well and take time to recover, the muscles will build back stronger than they once where. If we are not given the opportunity to recover the fatigue accumulates over time leading to decreased performance and higher risk of injury. It is no coincidence that the majority of injuries occur in the second half of games as the fatigue accumulates. While fatigue is unavoidable at times, we should be doing our best to avoid it AND make sure we are allowing time for proper recovery.


A helpful analogy is the ENERGY BUCKET. The water in the bucket is representing our energy and things like nutrition, sleep, and good exercise fill the bucket, while poor nutrition, poor sleep, school stress, relationship stress, etc. drain the bucket. Over the course of the season, if we are not intentional about conserving the water and efficient about the water we are using, then we will be running on empty. Teams with full buckets win in the post-season and fourth quarter. We need to be intentional about using as little water as possible, while getting the most bang for our bucket.


HIGH/LOW FOR THE WIN

Piggybacking off our the previous point, the high/low model is one way to reduce fatigue and increase efficiency with our use of the limited amount of "water". The way the high low model works is we alternate high intensity and low intensity practices. High intensity practice will be our most intense and fast paced practice - game day would also be considered a high day. Low intensity practice will be more instructional in nature and recovery based. These alternating high and low days allow us to recover during the game week while also getting more done. While hard to accept, coaches typically find that they are able to accomplish more with less time and get more engagement/productivity out of their players.


Some examples:


MON

TUES

WEDN

THURS

FRI

SAT

Practice/Lift

Practice

Practice/Lift

Practice

Game Day

Practice/Lift

HIGH

LOW

HIGH

LOW

HIGH

LOW


​MON

TUES

WEDN

THURS

FRI

SAT

​Practice

Practice/Lift

​Game Day

​Practice/Lift

Game Day

​Film/Lift

​HIGH

LOW

HIGH

LOW

HIGH

LOW



IN SEASON LIFTING

First of all, if you are not prioritizing strength training in-season you should be. If you like athletes that are stronger, more powerful, and less likely to get injured than you should strength train in-season. It does not have to be much. It can be as little as 30 min 2x per week.


Second of all, while I understand the "we are just trying to maintain" sentiment, 3 sets x 8-10 reps on squat is not going to maintain anything. Maintaining strength should be the bare minimum in terms of our in season strength goals. I believe we can make serious gains in the weight room, even while in-season. The key is increasing the intensity (how heavy) and decreasing the volume (how many). For instance, 3-5 sets x 3 reps of box squat with >85% of my 1 rep max (RM). 3 reps allows me to go pretty heavy without getting sore. This allows me to maintain strength and even get stronger in-season.


I hope this is helpful and gives you some ideas on how to manage your teams more efficiently. This relationship between strength coach and sport coach is a two way street and requires humility on both sides to listen and provide feedback. Let me know if you have questions!


Big Cat out🦁


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