To be successful in nearly anything, we must be good at noticing small details. Those small details can build up, over time, and lead to success or failure. The result depends on what you, as a coach, are willing to do with the details. Here are some details that I find to be important in strength and conditioning (no particular order).
This should go without saying, but I’ve seen many coaches who want to load the athlete straight out of the gate. The body needs to “learn” each basic movement pattern FIRST and then external load can be added. This is the only way to be sure of the safety of the athlete. This is especially true of adolescent athletes who are still developing.
If you closely examine any program developed by a good strength coach, you should see some sort of progression within each piece. The volume load/reps, exercises, frequency, etc. will all have some progression necessary for enhancing the development of their athletes. The “movement first” part could also be considered a progression.
This is important because each athlete develops on their own schedule and should not be held to a “one-size-fits-all” progression for anything. I believe one of the ways you can become a great coach is to develop an “eye” for seeing where each individual is at in their learning curve. This could be for the development for movement, physical qualities (strength, power, endurance), or even just maturity. It’s all-encompassing. We are trying to develop the athlete as a whole. At the highest level, everything matters. Nothing can be left behind. What’s their weakest link and what are they missing? How can you progress them from where they currently stand?
This should be a “no-brainer” as well. Unfortunately, we have many people in the profession that don’t see this as being important. Let me break it down for those that fall in that camp: Improper movement (mechanical inefficiency) = sub-par force production (due to lack of proper resistance arms/levers and force vectors) = lower loads used with each movement = sub-par enhancement of physical qualities = less carryover to the sport (dynamic correspondence). So, basically, training with proper technique allows more weight to be used and better carryover to the athletes’ respective sport.
Most athletes can detect arrogance immediately and will “turn off” to coaching just as quickly. It is important to be modest in the weightroom. Nobody likes a know-it-all…even if that person truly does know it all. It is fine to be intelligent and know a great deal. In fact, I encourage it! However, athletes usually don’t care about the science behind training. They just want to train hard and be better at their sport. You can help them by giving them layman’s terms when describing complex training protocols and the reasons behind your programming.
These are just a couple things I’ve noticed. Stick around for part 2!
The ideas, comments and materials presented herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion or otherwise.