How do you go about designing a workout program that would challenge athletes and get them in peak shape? How do you design programs that are creative, effective, and are still fun? Especially college and pro athletes.
That is definitely the “million dollar question” when working with athletes. To keep it simple, when you are working with an athlete at any level, you are trying to accomplish the following:
Improve the accuracy, adaptability, and magnitude of their abilities in an environment that facilitates an empowered mind-set.
If you make the above the foundation of your program during the evaluation, program design, coaching and follow-up periods of your program you will accomplish your goal of creating athletic greatness. Here are some practical tips on how to make that happen:
1. Programs create direction, great coaches create athletic greatness. Psychology trumps physiology every time. A great coach is a marriage of committed, passionate coaching and effective program design. As a coach, you should be educated and experienced with the most effective program design and be able to adapt it to match the needs of your athletes. While effective program design is essential, nothing will determine the success of your program more than your relationship with your athletes. Be positive, listen, communicate effectively, and lead by an example of a commitment to greatness. If you want better results, work to be a better coach!
2. When it comes to program design, you need to evaluate and map out a program for your athletes. Don’t just “do hard stuff” every day. Of course, your program should have quite a bit of “hard stuff,” but is should follow a plan. What if your kids went to school and just randomly “learned stuff” every day? No progression or design, just random facts, like reading them the answers to Trivial Pursuit Questions. Improving athleticism is like improving intelligence. There needs to be a plan and a progression.
3. Don’t be crippled by convention. When designing a program, asses what your athletes respond to. There is no one “magic exercise”. Talk to your athletes and find out what they believe has worked for them. There are literally thousands of ways to improve components of athleticism. If you are in a personal training environment, this is easy. If you are in an institutional setting with a high athlete to coach ratio, it can be tough. In either setting, listen to your athletes. If they don’t respond well to an exercise or program, try to find something they do respond to. This may mean breaking some of your pre-existing paradigms. This may mean getting creative and swallowing your ego. If a golfer doesn’t like doing barbell front squats, don’t waist time and energy fighting them. There is no data suggesting that barbell front squats are directly correlated to improved golf scores. Have them do bodyweight squats with a medicine ball, or something else that makes sense to them. Yes, if they liked barbell front-squats, their legs would get significantly stronger in the weight room. If they hate doing them however, there would be no carry-over into their play. They would much rather blame an injury on front squats than credit them for success. If they do things that make sense to them, they “buy in” to a program the net gain in overall performance is much greater.
4. Athletes are human beings, not robotic “Universal Soldiers”. They like to have fun. They like to compete. They thrive in a positive, motivating, uplifting environment. Wherever you are training athletes, create a positive, engaging training culture. Your programs should follow a plan, but don’t be afraid to throw in a game or a competition to prevent the athletes from getting stale. COACH YOUR ATHLETES. Don’t stand there with a clip board like you’re watching an exhibit at the zoo. Exude a sense of urgency. Your mouth should be moving to motivate, educate and inspire. If you’re committed, they’ll be committed. If you look like you enjoy what you are doing, they’ll enjoy what they are doing.
All of the above combined with thousands upon thousands of hours of experience and continuing education culminates into creating an optimal training environment for your athletes. Commit to being a better coach for your athletes. Inspire success in your athletes through your constant pursuit for greatness as a coach.
Coach Brett Klika is the Director of Athletic Performance at Todd Durkin’s Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA. He specializes in youth fitness and athletic performance, overseeing a staff of 8 strength coaches developing programs for over 300 youth per week, both athletes and non-athletes. In addition to coaching, Brett currently authors for a variety of publications, produces DVD’s on fitness and athletic performance and presents around the world on topics in fitness, wellness, and sports performance. Brett can be reached at // // // email@example.com
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