View Full Version : In season training

Mike G
07-31-2009, 06:13 PM
I'm coaching football this year after a few years off and I'm back working with the Varsity, but no longer in charge of the weight room. I know a lot more now than I did then and am frustrated with the "program" we are using now. It's basically thrown together that day, reps vary depending on what the coach wants to do, exercises include the basics, but in higher rep ranges and cleans (I hate this exercise) are the focus point.

For the season, he wants to use a circuit. I would rather use a Wendler 531 approach. This is for several reasons:

Our kids are weak, I think I can get them stronger during the season. I know this is difficult with the amount of energy used in practice, but I think with the low volume and "lighter" weights, we would have some success.

Our kids don't know how to push themselves, Wendler takes care of the weight for the main lift.

I will have two days a week for lifting and limited time. 531 can be adjusted to fit my circumstances.

I don't want my kids doing cleans. They don't know technique at all, I don't know it enough to coach them and neither do the other coaches. I'm watching kids try to do them and am just waiting for an injury. I know just enough about technique to sound like I know, but I'm just saying the things I have seen on videos.

There are huge differences in strength between the kids on our team. This hurts the idea of a circuit, especially the way our coach wants to run it, ie. set weight, no changes on the bars, the entire team at once, even if that means 30 stations. With Wendler, the differences are accounted for.

I also want to split the team based on position, I can do that and still have the entire team lifting at once, they would just be on different lifts on different days. This would also allow a coach to watch a main lift and help with technique (technique is a concern for many of our kids).

I am going to talk to the head coach about this, but I wanted to hear some opinions first. Worst case, I would like to take the LB's (my position) and have them do my workout.

07-31-2009, 07:42 PM
Sounds like you are a great coach with a good plan. Your team is lucky they have some body trying to change things for the better instead of mindlessly following bfs. My coaches were morons. I dont know how you could persuade the other coaches into doing this though. Maybe show them some of the posts on this site and from elitefts showing them that 531 is much better than the bs they are running now.

Travis Bell
07-31-2009, 08:56 PM
Mike, check your PM's buddy. I got back to you finally LOL

Mike G
07-31-2009, 09:18 PM
Slash, thanks man. The plan is changing a little each day, but I'm pretty sure I'm getting it figured out. I can be pretty persuasive, just looking for some other thoughts before going to the head coach.

Travis, done and thank you.

Ryan Hale
08-02-2009, 11:16 AM
Hi Mike,
I'm in the same position as you.I have been involved for about 9 months now at our local high school in the weightroom.
In the past,there was only a summer program,which lasted about 10 weeks,and that was it.Very few kids lifted year round.
We had two squat racks,both which had welded stops in them,this only allowed the super tall kids to get close to a parallel squat.
I now have 3 functioning squat racks,and do have kids that want to work year round to get stronger.

Here is what I have learned,and I hope this in some way can help you.

Some kids really want to work hard,and will be there if the weightroom gets opened.Other kids have no desire to work hard.This is the story of life,and I understand that,but if I were head coach of a program,I would make it understood that you have to be in the weightroom to have any sort of chance to play.Try to make sure weightroom can be opened both in morning and after school if possible,that way kids can get in there.

You have to have a head coach that supports the program you want to use,and not second guess what your doing.

I have made a few post of here to get info,in turn I take the great advice I get on this site and hand it over to the powers that be to read over.It really does help.

I lift with the kids,this has really helped.I don't lift every day with them,but do lift on the same exact program I have them on.I won't ask a kid to do anything I won't do.

I have them lift two days a week.I know some of you will not agree with a program that only lifts two days a week but here is the deal.

The program works,every kid that has gone through a 12 week cycle has gotten much stronger.This has held to be a truth through the 2nd cycle,and a few have just gotten done with thier 3rd cycle.
I'm all about results,if you get results on a program,stick with it until the results stall or slow.

2 days a week keeps the kids fresh,they don't end up hating the weightroom.They don't like being there 3-5 days a week for long.It burns them out.Now were talking as a whole here,as in what I notice as a group.

I don't break the kids up by position,but do know many schools do it this way.I like the fact that instead of lifting with the same group of kids each week,you lift as a team,and train with different kids,it really has helped with team unity.

Try to get a few kids to PL meets,that has really helped us.I wish in the worst way we could make it a official sport at our high school.

I struggle with the powerclean delema also.Some trainers,coaches,experts, love them,others not so much.Out of all the lifts,this one bothers me the most.I see sloppy form and it takes a ton of time to teach kids the proper form.Some kids really struggle with this lift,but the head coach still wants them in the program.So I feel your problems there,I really do.
Sorry to ramble,hope some of this will help.
Travis will be a great source of info,he has worked with lots of kids and has gotten great results.

Ryan Hale

Mike G
08-02-2009, 12:48 PM
Ryan, thanks for your response, sounds like we are in somewhat similar positions.

Our head coach is as hands off as he can be when it comes to the weight room, outside of the time we get. Practices are 2-2 1/2 hours a day after our games start. We waste a lot of time with our warm up and four or five coaches talking each day, probably a half hour total, at least. That leaves limited time to actually practice and even less time to lift.

I have coached several years in the past, just not the last two. Over those two years, our team didn't have an in season or off season program. It's just been an open weight room. The coach that actually ran the weight room this year made up a routine, one I didn't like back in October. But, I wasn't sure if I was coaching, so I didn't push things, other than tell him about WSFSB. When he didn't even look at the printout I gave him of the routine, I said screw it. Hindsight, I should have pushed things a little more, too late now.

As far as breaking kids up, I have to because of our space. We get more than 10 kids in the weight room, it becomes two kids lifting and eight kids waiting. We have 2 flat benches, 2 inclines and 1 squat rack, old school rack. Minimal floor space because we have 2 ellipticals, 3 treadmills, 2 bikes, 2 stair climbers and over a dozen machines from the late 80's. I'm talking minimal as in if someone deadlifts, they take up the one spot of open floor and that's a tight fit.

I have talked several times to my good friend, who is the defensive coordinator. He is the reason I am back this year with a paid spot. The problem is that he doesn't know anything about lifting, so when I talk to him about the routines, he's not totally sure what to think. He realizes I know my stuff, but this other coach is PE guy, played D3, was a very good player and is a really good line coach. Plus, he's been running it, so he's worried about hurting feelings. I'm not worried about that, especially when I've talked to the guy a few times and know he isn't that knowledgeable. Case in point, he wants to do some side bends to help lose his love handles.

When it comes to the amount of days, I'm a big believer in quality over quantity. If I can get two days of hard work, that's better than three days of mediocre effort. This was never a problem, because the kids realized they could be a great team if they worked, this group doesn't get that, not yet.

I don't lift with the kids, because their form is so bad. I was in the past, but I would get up from a set and see a kid about to hurt himself doing something else, so I stopped lifting with them. I feel much more confident that I will help them being a coach, than their lifting partner, when their form needs so much work. Over half of our team, when we start, won't have lifted more than five times over the off season. That's not an exaggeration.

My biggest problem at this point, is just getting control. That's why I'm looking for some opinions here, before I talk to the coach this week. I have thought more about the program and think I would like to do more of a WSFSB approach, using the 531 percentages. The split would be slightly different, I would most likely have to combine the rep and DE days, and do it all as active recovery on Saturday. Still, I think a full body, more of a DE approach, workout would be beneficial the day after a game. That day, the entire team would lift as a team, since we would be using more BW exercises. Then I would split the kids up the other two days and have them doing their ME work. The problem comes with the days in between, because we would most likely have to lift, Sat, Mon, Tues, but I don't think the lost day would be too big of a problem.

Ryan Hale
08-02-2009, 01:26 PM

To be honest with you,I really don't think that many HS football coaches know that mush about weightlifting,or what are the best programs.Some of course do,but in general,there is a lack of knowledge.
The important part is that the kids buy into what your doing,and believe in it.
It's all about change.Change things if the program has not had the best results in the past.
If you can,get rid of that equipment in the gym you do not use.Move them in a corner to make more room for your what you need the space for.
Have you approached the head coach,just sat and talked to him one on one and offered your services in the weightroom?
It can be very hard to get your feelings across to others that do not understand what you want to do.It's a slow battle sometimes,hang in there,and keep us posted on how things are going.

Also how have your teams been in the past? 500 or below,play-offs each year?
You can make a easy sell if the school has struggled on the football field.
Been great talking with you via this thread,lots of good info.

Ryan Hale

Mike G
08-02-2009, 03:25 PM
Records since first year I coached
2003 3-5 lost in first round of sectionals (our playoffs), very young team
2004 9-1 lost in sectional championship game
2005 10-2 won sectional championship, lost in state semi's, number 2 school in state for our class
2006 (JV D coordinator) 6-2 after an 0-2 start, won final 6 by convincing margins. I didn't work with the Varsity other than going to games, they didn't win a game 0-8
2007 6-3, I helped when I could, but didn't consider myself a coach this year, lost is sectional semi's
2008 5-3 I only went to games, lost in first round of sectionals

This is another thing that irritates me. The 03-05 group worked hard and the results showed it. It was a very talented group, but they made the most of their talent, falling 6 points short of going to the state championship. Since, the work ethic has been way down, but other than 2006, the team has done well. Especially since the last winning year before 04 was my senior year in 97. Our school has a history of being horrible in almost every sport, so being mediocre is a big accomplishment.

The kids will do the work I lay out for them. I have a good reputation and some of the kids played for me in '06 on JV and know I will prepare them for success. It's just that they haven't been pushed up to this point, mainly because they haven't been in the weight room. Our biggest squatter is in the low 300's and I question that, since I didn't see it. I actually like the kids, because they will work hard if someone shows them what to do. I've been doing that, but again, the turnout is so low and the amount of time we've been in the gym this summer has been so limited, I haven't been able to accomplish much.

Can't get rid of equipment, can't hide it in a corner, I've already talked to the AD about it. Our weight room is probably 400-500 square feet. I don't think it's any bigger than that and the walls are lined with old machines that were in a garage for ten years. I'm working on getting them to sell it/scrap it, but it's a big sell. I'm also working on the AD to buy some cages for our kids to lift in.

I appreciate the advice and I will be talking to the coach this week. I have a good relationship with him and he seems to listen and take in what I have to say. The biggest sell is going to be taking things over from this other coach, simply because he's been doing it.

08-14-2009, 05:46 PM
How is this shaping up Mike? I wish you the best. Working w. football teams (HS teams in general actually) is tough enough as it is, but it's next to impossible when you aren't fully empowered by the coaches...

FWIW, I think a 2x/week in-season program is the best you can hope for w. most HS teams.

Mike G
08-14-2009, 06:37 PM
Not good. The head coach wouldn't make the call and put one of us in charge. Our differences in what we think we should be doing are enough that a compromise won't result in a good routine, or a routine either of us will be happy with. I PM'ed several of the guys who do the O lifts regularly on this site and each has responded that we really shouldn't be doing the O lifts considering the lack of coaching and the lack of time to properly teach the lifts. I went to the head coach with this information, told him why I want to do the routine I want and the reason why I want to work in lower rep ranges for the main lifts. Two days later, he said he didn't want to cut anyone out of the loop and that we needed to come up with something together. That basically means he doesn't want to make a call and it's easier to just go with whatever happens. The other coach is writing down his stuff this weekend and we are going to go over it Sunday. I'll post the finished routine this weekend.

It's been frustrating for a few reasons, I think the biggest is that I clearly stated reasons why I wanted to do the routine I gave him and the reasons why the other lifts aren't a good idea, but that went nowhere.

08-14-2009, 07:03 PM
Wow, I'm sorry but I can't say I'm surprised at all... Unfortunately, a lot of coaches (especially former athletes and it seems much more prevalent in FB) feel they are already experts in S&C when they are NOT. Hopefully you'll be able to work out a good enough compromise that the kids benefit.

Travis Bell
08-14-2009, 10:39 PM
Totally agree with Sensei. Most people feel they are already experts at strength and conditioning.

One of my rules though is that when I contract out to a school, nobody argues with me in the weight room. The other coaches leave me alone, free to watch and ask questions if they like, but what I say goes. This is for several reasons 1) leadership - the kids will never know who to give the right respect to if there isn't clear leadership and 2) dilution of any program does just that, dilutes the results.

Given this situation, I'd pull back and quite honestly, quit. It's not worth the hassel. If these coaches are bound and determined to put some crappy routine on this football team, they are the ones in the position to do so. You can't force a good program on people (much as we'd all like to)

Best you can do is offer to work with some of the guys at a local gym if they want to, but that's about as good as it's going to get.

Travis Bell
08-14-2009, 10:47 PM
Oh, I will add that I have been in a similar situation with one of the schools I worked with.

I had a guy who was the athletic trainer for the team and just assumed the role of S&C coach. He's a very arrogant man who is unwilling to learn, supremely fat out of shape (never leaves the ATV that carries him around the field) and an idiot.

When I first approached this school, this guy talked the head coach out of it. He badmouthed me (although up until then he'd been attempting to sloppily put together a Westside routine) and apparantly the college athletes I've worked with paled in comparison to his years of service to the school.

I kept a good relationship with the head coach and told him (respectfully) that should this guy continue to run the weight room, those kids would get hurt and hurt badly.

Sure enough, several months down the road, two kids herniated disks - right in front of the guy ("duh I really don't know what happened, that one looked good to me") and two more jacked their knees doing some lousy KB routine that took place of all their lifting.

I got the job after that. Sometimes you are going to have to be patient and wait until some coaches learn the hard way. For that school, the kids are now much much faster, in better shape, stronger and looking to have one of their best seasons in about 5 years.

Mike G
08-15-2009, 11:59 AM
The problem is that there isn't a S&C coach. I'm a LB coach, the other guy is a line coach. It's not an issue that I would quit over, especially since I was never asked to run the weight room. It is an issue that I felt strongly enough about to voice my concerns, give explanations and write down an alternative routine. I will see what the other coach wants to do and go from there. I may continue to voice my concerns, or I might just say screw it and stay away from the lifting and focus on the LB's. The reality is that two days isn't going to do much either way, but I guess I want to maximize the benefits of those two days, not just spend some time in the weight room where cable crossovers are a staple (yes, they are actually one of the main lifts).

I have to stop posting, I'm getting annoyed all over again.

08-15-2009, 12:30 PM
The problem is that there isn't a S&C coach. I'm a LB coach, the other guy is a line coach. It's not an issue that I would quit over, especially since I was never asked to run the weight room. It is an issue that I felt strongly enough about to voice my concerns, give explanations and write down an alternative routine. I will see what the other coach wants to do and go from there. I may continue to voice my concerns, or I might just say screw it and stay away from the lifting and focus on the LB's. The reality is that two days isn't going to do much either way, but I guess I want to maximize the benefits of those two days, not just spend some time in the weight room where cable crossovers are a staple (yes, they are actually one of the main lifts).

I have to stop posting, I'm getting annoyed all over again.
I know you know this already, but 2 solid days a week in-season is infinitely better than many programs, and as the season wears on when the kids are getting pretty beat down, maintaining strength will make a huge difference.

You can only do what you can, and if your position shines, then maybe people will start to listen... Good luck however things turn out.

08-15-2009, 08:09 PM
I ran into my old D line coach(at a dif. school this season) today at a local gym and some how we started talking about the bfs routine and how he got his school to stop using it. He said he put his strength where his mouth is. He out lifted the other coaches in the weight room and the coaches and players took notice. I dont know what you lift but maybe if you showed off a little it might help. I know its not a professional approach but i thought it might be worth mentioning. It helped my old coach.

Travis Bell
08-15-2009, 09:21 PM
Showing off, the majority of times, will not work. It'll embarass the other coaches and just make them more pissed.

Using good quality logic, sound plans and as Sensei said - results is what will bring them around.

Honestly, Sensei kinda touched on one thing that I suggested and that being work with some of the kids who trust you and know you well and take them to another gym. Get them stronger and they'll show results and that can kinda be a testimony to your training

Showing off though will just come across as cocky

Mike G
08-16-2009, 08:54 AM
Slash, I believe that approach could work in certain situations, but I wouldn't take that route and I don't think it would work in this situation. I'm more aligned with Sensei and Travis' thinking. I've already used the logic and sound plan approach, though. I have shown them results in the past when I ran the weight room. I was the one who actually got the kids lifting in past seasons and set up a routine for them, showed them how to lift, how to push in the weight room and what lifts they should focus on (they all loved to curl and bench, I got them to squat). Still, I appreciate the suggestion.

If I didn't know my routine would work better, I wouldn't care. Like Sensei mentioned, two days is still enough to get something done, why waste those two days doing a bad circuit, olympic lifts and a lot of isolation work? I would rather focus on the big lifts and some lighter accessory work. I've looked into enough routines to have a solid plan, I've asked enough people on this forum and other places that I have great feedback and I've been around weights for a long enough time to know how to push kids and to know what works for most people.