It's Thursday ya'll and I'm back with another bit of fun for you all to read. I'm honestly trying to at least get a post that's not my usual Friday Things That I've Found up every 2 weeks or so. As I get better with it I'll try to make it more of a weekly thing, for now you can expect something new every other week.
This post is a bit of an opinion piece, but I'm sure I'm not alone in this thought. Yeah most posts that land on a blog are opinions, but usually those opinions are backed by some sort of study or science. Today I have something that's really eating away at me, it's something some of you may be familiar with or have experienced yourself in school strength and conditioning setting. I may hit a nerve on a few people that want to tell me I don't know what I'm talking about. That's ok, I'm just giving you my perspective and what I see.
This isn't as often of an occurrence as it use to be (I don't think at least), but I know it's still out there and needs to be stamped out pronto. The situation usually goes something like this:
Head Coach of (X) Sport: Hey what was Jack's PR on Y-Exercise this week when you tested him?
Strength and Conditioning Coach: Let me look at my notes. (checks his chart) He went up 10 lbs on Y-Exercise.
HC: Oh....that's all? Has he been lifting.
SCC: Yeah he's shown up for all (or most) of the lifts. I'll show you his chart. (Shows HC the chart)
HC: I was really hoping he'd get stronger than that.
The conversation continues for anywhere between 10 to 40 more minutes about the program and what the Head Coach expects from the program the Strength Coach is in charge of putting together.
I know the previous conversation has happened to many a strength coach in a scholastic setting (college, high school, prep school, etc...). It usually goes one of two ways, either A) the Head Coach butts out and trusts the Strength Coach with what he's been hired for. B) he doesn't like what he hears from the Strength Coach and goes on to get said Strength Coach in hot water with the Athletic Director....maybe even fired.
The second route I've just listed is a bit on the extreme side and doesn't happen NEARLY as often as it use to, I'd say maybe 10% of the time now. Not usually ending with someone losing their job.
There was a time if a team wasn't performing on the field, the scapegoat was the Strength Coach or the Athletic Trainer or someone NOT the actual coach. There are times they could be at fault, but it's usually not the case. Not always the coaches fault neither quite honestly.
More and more head coaches are understanding it's not all about what the numbers in the weight room say. They are working with the strength and conditioning staff and their athletic trainers, trusting them to provide accurate information on how their players are progressing. Still some haven't learned as much and want answers from their team's strength coach, let's look at the different things I might bring to their attention:
1) Assuming the coach was expecting a bigger jump, maybe they're basing it on the last jump the athlete had. The last bigger jump could've had a couple factors playing into it. The biggest of those factors is, if the athlete was relatively new to lifting, you will see improvements in leaps and bounds. Those new to strength training often see improvements as they get better at mastering the lifts. Eventually this will lead to some sort of plateau and then you're jumps won't be nearly as gargantuan.
2) Was the player injured last year? This year? If the player was injured the year before and they took part in every competition this year, I'll call that a win right there. After all kids that go to school for athletics are there to be athletes, not weight lifters. Also if the player had to take time off from playing, odds are they had to take time off from lifting at some point, that can easily have an effect on their next testing numbers. Other outside forces could have also contributed to them not getting all their lifts in. Sometimes it's the case of the athlete being hurt, not disclosing it and no one picks up on it. That's a case where everyone is at fault.
3) Going back to number one, if this athlete is at more of a senior level with their lifting their jumps will not be so large. Certainly even experienced lifters can see big gains in their lifts, but that's probably happening when they are given a program that's specific to them. As a strength coach for a team you and make tweaks here and there for each athletes, but to actually make a personalized program for every athlete on ever team just isn't reasonable. Most strength coaches at schools are in charge of more than a single team, usually at least 2 or 3, if not more. To ask them to program for each phase for 60-70+ athletes just isn't in the cards.
4) Did the athlete dog his program a bit? Maybe he did and this would be the perfect athlete to make sure they ALWAYS have percentages to go off of. Me personally I am more of a feel it out type, but I'm never one to ignore the signs of an athlete/trainee that's not doing as much as they could be. Though I will say an athlete will probably be tempted to dog their lifting program if they feel burnt out from practice, so consider that balance on the head coaches end as well. Sometimes there's even an issue the athlete is trying to sneak in extra work...too much extra work, and it's killing their performances everywhere.
5) Are they still performing on the field? Yes? End of conversation there.
6) Every now and then the programming IS garbage. Either the strength coach just isn't a good (or even decent) strength coach or they have been of their game in terms of programming. This is probably on the rarer side of occurrences, but if this is the case, it's absolutely on the strength and conditioning coach for your time.
There are other things that I did not mention above, but let's be real there's usually a part for everyone to play in this scenario. Let's have a review of things that can be pointed out in discussing testing numbers on an athlete:
1) New to lifting and strength training.
3) Piggybacking off 1, athlete's experience level
4) Athlete not being honest with themselves or their coaches
5) On field performance
6) Bad programming
Even private sector coaches deal with this from coaches and parents to a degree. Assuming someone has done their homework on the strength coach you're working with, trust them, let them do their job, and work together not against each other.
That's my post for today folks. Go out there and get after it!
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Jarrod Dyke, CSCS