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What's the Difference Between a Good and Great Strength Coach?

Every athlete can name a particular coach who had the most impact on them and got the most out of them. This coach may not have been a better x’s and o’s coach, but he found a way to get the most out of his players. The same can be said about strength coaches. You can have two athletes with relatively the same ability go through the same exact workout program with different strength coaches and get completely different outcomes and results. How can this happen? It all comes down to making sure the athlete knows the intent of the exercise they are performing and being able to communicate this to them.

It’s up to the strength coach to communicate the intent to the athlete and have the athlete execute the movement the way it was intended. The phrase “going through the motions” can apply to sport practices as well as the weight room. Never assume an athlete knows what you intended when you wrote the program. The athlete should understand what exercise they are performing, why they are doing the exercise, how to do the exercise as intended, where they should feel the exercise, and how the exercise will help them become better athletes. This is especially true when doing speed drills with the athletes. A coach may have a group of athletes of various abilities going through the same speed drill. A great coach is going to tell different individuals to focus on different aspects for their individual improvement. For example, one athlete may need a better projection angle while another may need to concentrate on better knee drive. Even though they are doing the same drill, these athletes will be doing the drill with a different intent. The best coaches are the best educators, and they can educate each athlete on what they should specifically work on to get the most out of their training.

It’s important to educate the athletes not only about the day to day workouts but of the entire purpose and goal of the training program. At Function and Strength a stronger emphasis is placed on speed compared to absolute strength. Although there are periods of the program when we want the athletes to challenge themselves and develop strength we do a lot of our strength work at submax weights with a huge emphasis on moving the weight fast and transitioning fast from the eccentric to concentric phases of movements. Over the course of an entire summer program the intent focused on speed and quick transitions every repetition adds up to huge number of repetitions performed with a very specific intent. It’s this constant practice that pays big dividends when comparing fitness testing before and after the program.

Using a variety of fitness technology we are able to track sprint times, sprint speed, bar speeds, jump heights, and eccentric and concentric force with the kBox. All of these items can give us real time feedback to tell us if the athlete is performing the exercise with intent or if they are going through the motions and performing the repetition without intent. If an athlete takes a rep off we know it. A good coach have the athlete continue their program without addressing the lack of intent as long as technique is good. A great coach is going to address this right away with the athlete and get the athlete to focus and execute the next rep with the right intent.

Coaches can make all the difference when it comes to getting athletes truly reaching their potential. This stems from good communication between the athlete and coach to make sure every exercise is done with the right intent in mind.

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