Question and Answer for Strength Coaches

How do you handle conflict resolution in your organization?

When an athlete and an assistant strength coach have a conflict it is usually due to poor communication.  Our rules are to be on time to train, work hard and communicate if you have a problem and together we will work it out.  This usually covers any and all disputes that crop up from time to time.  However, occasionally there is a situation that the system does not address and some type of intervention is needed.  At this time I will step in and mediate the situation.  Usually this will clear it up in a matter of minutes.  However, if I can find no common ground between the parties, then we will take it up the chain of command to an assistant or head coach.  This rarely occurs and is usually done when there is a pattern of conflict developing with this particular athlete and the strength coach and/or the weight room in general.

Having a clearly defined system of guidelines and rules explicitly communicated to frame acceptable behavior for all parties tends to negate the source of most conflicts.  If and when disputes occur, people skills go a long way in resolving the conflict.  Identifying and addressing the issues at the root of the conflict are paramount.  Offering up possible strategies to resolve the conflict and then all parties agreeing to a solution makes conflict resolution palatable to all.  There is no winner/loser, only solution centered strategies in order to refocus on the goal of training in order to prepare for the upcoming competition.

How do you indoctrinate newcomers to your philosophy and training program?

When our freshmen report to our university, we indoctrinate them to the strength and conditioning program

on the first full day of practice.   We give to each freshman and post in each locker a camp tip sheet

reminding them to drink water, salt their food, use the ice tubs, see the trainers (as needed), get a massage

(if needed), nap with their feet up, drink the electrolyte drinks, eat their fruits and vegetables and void clear

at least once each day.   During the orientation we warn them to never ingest a supplement without first

consulting a coach or trainer.  We remind them of the consequences of testing positive for a performance

enhancing drug (one calendar year).  Our rules (be on time, work hard and communicate if there is a

problem); our philosophy (train hard, eat right and rest/recover consistently); and our procedures (prevent

injury, sharpen their tools (speed, strength, power, flexibility and work capacity) and have fun) are

introduced as well.

We do not have a technique session with them at this time.  About ten days into camp

we have our first day of strength training.  At this time we pair two of our upper classmen with one of our

newcomers.  The veteran players indoctrinate our new players to our program.  Things like where the

workouts are, what the abbreviations mean and get signed out when you finish are introduced by our

veterans.  This allows our 6 member coaching staff to actually teach technique as we train.  Many times our

experienced players will also help with some of the basic technique instruction on many of the lifts.  I feel

it is better to coach on the run as many times the frosh will only remember 10% of what they hear and 20%

of what they see in any demonstration given by the strength staff.

How do you transition from in – season to off – season training?

At the end of the season, I have two general plans, depending upon the success of the season.  If we are in a bowl, then we are going to mimic a full year in a month.  After the Thanksgiving break, we will have a week of off – season, a week of summer, a week of camp and a game week.  Throughout the process the players usually organize voluntary 7 on 7 and team drills.  The first week will focus mainly on fitness and conditioning, the second week more on strength and power.  The third week is mainly football practice and in – season lifting.  The fourth week is usually at the bowl site and the focus is on the experience of the bowl and preparing to win.  The coaches are on the road recruiting, we have recruiting weekends, and finals are approaching so it is a very busy time for the entire organization.

If we are not involved in the post – season, then the second general template is implemented.  The players will be involved in a 5 day per week general strength and fitness program designed to lay the foundation for off – season, rehab any injuries and set the tone for the Christmas break training.  This is usually a time period of about 2 – 3 weeks.  At the end of this training phase, the team is given a workout that involves a lot of bodyweight exercises and some interval conditioning.  If a weight room is not available, then the entire program can be accomplished and the athlete can still maintain his fitness.  When the athlete returns from break, he will be held accountable for his level of fitness.  We accomplish this by testing twelve 110’s on 65 second turnover with a time of 19 – 17 – 15 for the big guys, the middle guys and the speed guys.  There is an extra 5 seconds recovery and we only do 12 rather than 16.  We also do 4 full leg circuits.  This is the leg circuit designed by Vern Gambetta and it is our leg strength, power and fitness test for fall camp.  It consists of 20 squats, 20 alternate lunges, 20 alternate step – ups, and 10 squat jumps.  This must be executed in 90 seconds with a two minute and thirty second recovery.  Only bodyweight is used.

During this time I visit with each and every coach concerning his guys and what he sees they need to improve on.  This helps a lot, but not in the way most people think it would.  In general, the position coaches tell me that each player either needs strength, power, fitness, body composition changes or some combination.  But what I get out of these meetings is I get to hear the position coaches talk about the personality of his player as well as how, why and what he is coached.  This is invaluable insight into where this player is in his career and enables me to preach his coaches sermon to him as we interact in the off – season program.  This help put me on the same page as the position coach and keeps the lines of communication open.

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