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Strength and Conditioning for Athletes: The Basics

Whether you are an aspiring strength and conditioning coach or you are a coach right now working with athletes, you will need to have a basic understanding of what your athletes need along with the best way to work with them so that they not only understand what they are doing, but why they are doing it.

Let‘s get started

Coaching is all about helping meet the athlete where they are at and then building them up from there. As a team, your athletes will work together to accomplish one goal. If one person is a little farther behind or they think they are so far ahead that they don’t need to listen, this is where the problem lies. So, how do we get those kids or athletes to listen to you?

Easy, just listen to them

Whether they are talking to you directly or indirectly, the athlete is always telling you something. If you see someone struggle, you know that your work is harder for them to accomplish. If you see someone lash out and not participate mostly because of “ease of the training” then you see that it is too easy for them.

Athletes on a middle and high school level will always have those types of athletes as they are still developing with their bodies, their minds, and their overall emotions. One of the best tools for coaches to have is the ability to listen to your athletes. If you are unable to listen either through direct communication or though indirect actions or demeanor of the child, then anything you throw their way from then on is out the window because once one athlete is lost or unable to put forth your level of effort, then the team cohesion is gone.

Basic rule #1 for coaching or personal training too: It is all about the athlete or the client

Once we start to adjust to the team or the individual that we are coaching or training then we can truly start to see the person or the team for who they are and be able to address where to start with the athletes.

Basic rule #2 for coaching: Meet them where they are

As a coach, we all have goals and aspirations that we wan our athletes or our clients to be able to reach, but not all the time do we have teams that are to the level that we are like. This is not saying that they are bad, but there could have been a coach before who had broke their trust or had pushed them too hard to where no progress was shown and they just gave up. Coming in knowing where the athletes are and giving them a realistic goal, along with referring back to rule #1, will not only allow trust to be built but will also improve unity amongst the team and push them to work harder

Basic rule #3 for coaching: Athletes need structure, but also fun

As teenagers and younger, for the sake of this blog, the best way to reach them in terms of having them enjoy their workouts along with getting better is to make them fun. Through my degree process, I was in the College of Education where we spent time learning about how kids learn, what their likes and dislikes are, and how to meet them where they are. Kids may not listen because they are bored. Their attention spans are less than that of where you are at, so keep things always changing and moving. For example, give kids some circuit style training where they are moving from station to station and then finish off with some sort of push-up challenge, race, or game related to fitness. What this does is allows for the athletes to get better at what they want to get better at, but also allows for some fun and gets them working together, encouraging one another, and shows you what they are capable of in a competitive aspect.

Basic rule #4 for coaching: Have fun with it

When the strength coach dreads going in and working with the kids, then you already know that no progress is going to be made. I observed a coach when I was an undergrad that would bad mouth the students before they even came, saying that they never worked hard and that they were not good athletes to begin with. Therefore, he put minimal effort into planning out what they were doing and would rarely pay attention or talk to the athletes. Right then and there he lost that athlete. They never pushed themselves because the coach already knew that they were not good athletes. If you come in with that kind of attitude and work ethic, then you are failing the athletes and should not be working with them anyway.

Coaching is supposed to be about working hard and having fun with what you do and if you are unable to do that, then you not only fail the students but you fail yourself. Your clients and your athletes are top priority and it is important to treat them as such.

Now, there will be times that it will not be fun, athletes will not listen and you will have to be stern. This all comes with the territory, but remember this. Kids like to mimic what they are given. If you respect them, push them, make them work hard, and have fun with it then they will do the same. Make yourself a people person and you will be more successful with your coaching endeavors than you can ever imagine.

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