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6 Tips on Improving Your Strength and Conditioning Program

Over the years of being a strength and conditioning coach, motivating athletes can be challenging.  If everyone was as motivated as I am about training, then there would not be any significant challenge for myself.  As a coach and an ex-athlete, I still want to be challenged.  When I first started with athletes, I figured everyone loves to work out.  That was not the case.  I learned a lot about myself from the past when I would train these athletes.  I will be the first to admit, I did not enjoy weight lifting until I was a senior in high school.

Motivation is not just cheering on someone who is exercising.  There are 6 tips that will help you improve your strength and conditioning program.

    1.   Set Long- and Short-Term Goals

As an athlete, you are setting goals in your sport.  Short-term goals are something you want to do today, this week or this month.  Long- term goals are designed for long periods of time such as 12 months or more to achieve.  When we are designing goals for our athletes, this can show them that you really care about their future.  A coach once told me, if you do not have goals, why are you here?  It may sound harsh, but it is true.  Goals are what drives us.  If my long-term goal is to get a college scholarship, then I am going to bust my butt for it .  Sit down with your coach, parent or even by yourself and come up with a plan.  When designing these goals, create goals that you can accomplish and goals that may be pretty challenging to accomplish.

    2.    Have a Purpose

Have you ever been given a program and you saw the benefits out in your sport?  It is a very rewarding feeling.  Imagine if you put in all of that hard work and you were not seeing the results.  I would not be motivated to train.  When you are designing a program, you need to really examine the movements needed in their sport.  If they are lacking in a certain area, tell them what they need to improve on and how are they going to achieve that goal.

    3.    Has Your Program Worked for Others?

Buying in is a huge part of motivating someone. If someone doesn’t believe in the training, it is unlikely to work, no matter how good the program. Therefore, having a program that works is essential. If you are a new coach, then this can be a great learning tool for you.  Find or create a program that works, then you’ll see the benefits. Think of a college program. If a head coach at a college program wins a National Championship, they will sign a lot of recruits the next couple of years.  If you have had athletes who have improved from your training, more people will buy into your program.

   4.    Evaluate Their Progress

This is an important topic especially in the off-season and preseason.  For example, you have a football player who is getting ready for the 225 lb bench press test.  If your goal is to perform the bench press test once a week, you want progress in reps every week if you can.  When you are working with athletes, create a program that they can track the reps, sets and weight.  You can really evaluate what is going on in their development.  This can be very helpful for plateauing.  Even though I am not an athlete anymore, I still track all these phases of my training.  Write down everything that you can, especially how you are feeling that day and go out there and improve each day.

   5.    Record Board

If you have not implemented this in your weight room, this can be a motivating factor.  If you walk into high school or college weight rooms, most of them will have a record board.  Most boards will have the highest (bench press, squat, clean, jerk, snatch, deadlift, 40 yard dash, etc).  In the off-season and preseason, implement “record breaking week”.  If you are a competitor, this week is going to excite you.  If you lift the highest weight (please stress perfect form) they get their name on the board. Who knows, your name could be up there for years.

   6.    Compete, Compete and Compete, Some More

As athletes, we compete every day in the pool, field and arena.  Wouldn’t you want to compete in your training.  Have you ever watched a team strength and conditioning videos on YouTube?  Those videos show 2 individuals going against each other with the entire team pumping them up. This will get all the juices pumping and make you want to destroy your competition.  The more we compete off the field can transfer over to your sport. Even if you have individuals who are not inspired by this type of motivation, have them compete for whoever loses has to pick up the weight room.  I bet that will inspire most individuals.

Having a solid strength and conditioning program that is productive and fun can be very difficult.  I did not just come into my first program and have everyone excited about training.  I am still trying new ways to improve my programs.  Have a plan, implement new ideas from others and you could have a program that young athletes can enjoy!

Written by Chris Barber, CPT