elitefts™ Sunday Edition

Many strength coaches, both young and old, often have a hard time answering this question. Some know what their philosophy is but can’t explain it while others have absolutely no idea. They just do it because so and so does it that way.

To move forward in this business, you have to sit down with your staff and really break down what you do in your program and how you want to do it. It can be simple or it can be complex. You may have two philosophies—one for yourself and your staff that is laid out in technical, strength coach jargon and another for the coaches who want to know what you do with their athletes and why, written up in an easy to explain and easy to follow manifest.

Selling your program to the various sport coaches and administrators is one of the biggest tests you'll face as a strength coach. The worst part is that the head coaches usually aren't the ones you have to worry about—it's the assistants who are usually the biggest headaches. It seems that on every staff in every sport in the country there is an assistant who knows more about strength training than all the elitefts™ contributors combined. You'll have to get the head coach to buy in as soon as possible. Then, when he's on your side, you can start working on the others. Always take care of the boss first.

Don't write it if you don't believe it and live it every day. I know many coaches who write down all this stuff but don't put any of it into action. Most of what they actually do is great, but they write the opposite because they feel they have to. Stick to your guns. If you believe in doing something a specific way, write it down, do it, live it, and find the right people to work for who are going to buy in and let you do your job. You don't want to be in a situation where you believe with everything you have that what you're doing is right, but you have to fight the coaches all the time to defend what you do. Find the right coach, get on the same page, and fight your ass off with him.

In developing your philosophy, you have to start with your mission statement, which is the crux of your program. It can be two sentences long or three pages. The content is what matters, not the length. It should sum up how you'll train your athletes, what you want to be known for, and how you'll run your weight room. My mission statement has never changed, and I have kept the same one since I coached at the high school level. It is simple and to the point.


That’s my mission statement. That's what I want my program to do and be known for. I can back it up and explain it to any coach or administrator. I never have to go against it because I believe in it and I feel that it is the job that we, as strength coaches, are hired to do.

The next step is your program philosophy. The same rules apply here. Write it, believe it, live it, and coach it. The program philosophy is a little more in depth and outlines some of the different ideas and approaches we take in training our athletes. I've said before that there are a thousand ways to skin a cat and here is one of them. It is simple, concise, to the point, and easy to back up with actions.

Program philosophy

Proficiency and maximum improvement are attained through diligent and consistent training using the correct program. The program we use now with total conviction came from a multitude of training methods and workout philosophies. It is the product of much thought and the distillation of ideas, principals, and numerous personal and team trials. Everything done here will be improvement oriented. All workouts are designed to make a stronger, faster, and more powerful athlete. This plan has been developed to aid the athlete in being the absolute best that he can be. It is geared for only one thing—success. There are four components that must be adhered to if success is to be obtained—the athlete must want to be successful, he has to believe that he will be successful, he has to expect to be successful, and he must put in hard work.

We will give each athlete 100 percent effort every day. We will accept nothing less. It isn't enough to be a survivor; each athlete must be a competitor! Every day in everything that is done, the will to win must overcome the effort to endure. To be a champion, you can't do things correctly once in a while. You have to do them correctly all the time. Working hard and getting better every day should be the motivation. We will train harder and smarter than any of our competition. We will perform smooth, proficient, controlled reps in both running and lifting to build our muscular foundation for increased strength, speed, and power.

Strength and speed will increase gradually once the technique has been done satisfactorily. All workouts have been planned to the smallest detail. Nothing is left to chance. These workouts are the blueprint for success. All that is demanded from the athlete is the effort. All reps and sets must be made. Follow the workout instructions to the letter with maximal effort and we will not be beat.

This is just part one in helping coaches develop their own philosophy of how they do things. It is a lot of work to put what you do down on paper, but it will help you tremendously when you go on your next interview and can say, "Here it is—this is what I believe, this is what I live, and this is what I coach." It will make your life easier. I'll cover the next sections in future articles.

Blueprint for Success: A Strength and Conditioning Coach's Manual