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As I've stated before, we're going into our third year as a Division I football program. We're young, taking our lumps as we go along. The most important thing that we're trying to do is build a culture where everyone in our organization is accountable for their actions. The definition of culture is the characteristics that define a particular group of people. We want our team culture, our team characteristics, to follow this motto—don't focus on who gets the credit, and do your job to the best of your ability to help us win the day. Take care of yourself and the team, and everything else will follow. Can all you strength coaches out there imagine how great and easy our jobs would be if every player, coach and member of the support staff acted in this matter?

Why do we try to insert ourselves into all these other parts of our programs instead of just concentrating on getting our athletes bigger, stronger and faster?


I'm reading an excellent book on the New Zealand All Blacks, the nation’s rugby team and the most successful sports franchise of all time. Over the last 100 years, they've had an 86 percent winning percentage. Yes, you read that right—an 86 percent winning percentage in the last 100 years. That statistic alone shows the unbelievable winning tradition and culture that they possess. One of the most interesting things I read was that after each of their matches (which they travel around the world to compete in), they pick two players to “sweep the sheds” (locker room) before they leave for the airport. Two players actually get brooms and sweep up all the tape, cups and other trash that was deposited on the floor during their stay. When asked why they do that with all the millions of dollars and personnel they have at their disposal, they said, “We don’t need anyone to take care of the All Blacks. The All Blacks take care of the All Blacks.”

Every class, every workout, every meeting is focused on this simple question: did you win or lose the day? The more days you win, the greater the chance of winning on game day. That is the goal. Some call it the process and some call it the grind, but whatever you call it, the goal is to win the day. In order to win the day you have to win every set, every rep, every snap until you succeed. As you know, there aren't any shortcuts, and this process can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. I like to keep things simple.

In 1908, the great financier J.P. Morgan held a contest saying that he would pay $25,000 to anyone who could show him a plan on how to be successful. A man appeared and handed him an envelope. J.P. read it, nodded and paid the man the money. What did the paper say?

  • Write down everything you have to do that day.
  • Do them.

Changing your culture can be as easy as that. The key is to be consistent, enforce your rules and regulations and keep working every day to get everyone on board with the same mindset. Know what you need to do and just do it. The teams and individuals who are successful all have that in common. They do what needs to be done, and they take care of business.

The more days you win, the greater the chance of winning on game day.


I was at one school where our weight room was literally in a shower. Four racks and four benches and we won 10 games. I've also worked in places with a lot more and we didn't have that kind of success. The same holds true for all the first round draft picks who I've been lucky enough to coach. Taking care of business was their one common denominator. They were all from different backgrounds—one parent, two parents, rich, poor. All of them were different, but they all wanted to be the guy, not that guy. They were guys who you can build a culture and a team around. My question to you is how many of us as coaches are going down that path to success? Can your organization build its culture around you and what you do? How many of us are finding a way to get things done, regardless of the circumstances?

pickerington high school weightroom

As I talk to strength coaches from all around the country about different problems or concerns that they may have, the biggest one pertains to interns/new hires/new coaches. Regardless of whether I talk to a coach from a successful program, a growing program or a program on its way up or down, I keep getting one of these same four answers:

  1. They are either book smart or they can’t run a group on their own no matter how much mentoring/advice they get.
  2. They bitch and complain about everything, even though they've never been anywhere else and really have no idea how other programs are run (they just go by what “their boys” tell them). They worry about what they'll get paid when they can’t even run or set up a station correctly. No need to pay dues here. Just pay me!
  3. They're complete meatheads and are self-absorbed. They work out, eat and do everything perfectly, but they can’t even correct a single thing for someone else. In addition, these guys are afraid or they don't have any confidence in actually coaching an athlete much less a group of them.
  4. They're one of the good ones, the guys who are told to be there at 7:00 am and show up at 6:00 am, the guys who coach their athletes because that's what they want to do, the guys who find a way to get things done no matter the circumstances. They're the guys who ask questions and want to get better instead of complaining behind your back, the rare, real, old school type of guys. They're the guys who write down what they need to do that day and then do it.

Which one of these categories do you fall under? Are you a culture builder or a culture destroyer? I find it harder and harder to find the good ones and I don’t know why. I can’t figure out how this profession has become so complicated that we forget the main thing we were brought in to do.

There are a few places where the strength coach actually runs the entire support staff as an athletic director, and I guarantee you that he's doing something about it instead of bitching and complaining. These guys have the trust of the head coach to implement a winning culture in every aspect of their program, and my hat is off to them. To the rest of us who are in charge of the weight room, take care of the weight room! Why do we try to insert ourselves into all these other parts of our programs instead of just concentrating on getting our athletes bigger, stronger and faster? Who cares if your equipment guy sucks or if the team travel isn't what you expect it to be? It won't make you look better by bitching all the time. It actually weakens your position and destroys any culture that you're trying to build. If you don’t have the power to change what you can't control, take a step back and concentrate on what you can control—building the right culture, the right atmosphere, in your weight rooms.

This profession has become so complicated that we forget the main thing we were brought in to do.


We have to learn to take care of ourselves if this profession is going to move forward. We need to build a wall around the weight room and teach our strength staff and players how to get better in the weight room. Teach them to set goals and smash them in the weight room. Teach them to always find a way to do more in the weight room. Teach them the value of sacrifice and dedication in the weight room. Teach your players that the will to compete is a noble endeavor. Teach them to dream, to strive and to be the best no matter how far away that may be. Teach them to take care of themselves. Teach them how to win the the weight room.

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