Recently, I undertook a huge project at work. I went back and found every workout that I've had my teams do since I was a head strength coach. I had workouts on paper, floppy discs (yes, floppy discs), hard drives, zip drives—you name it and it was there. We inputted them page by page all in the same format. It took weeks. There was so much information—lifts, runs, agilities. Anything that had my name on it, we gathered.
At first, it was like herding cats, looking through boxes that were last opened five states and sixteen years ago. It was a trip down memory lane, for sure, but it was time to really look back so that I could move forward. It was something that has been on my 'to do' list for years, and I finally had the right crew to help me decipher it all and get it done. I can't believe how much stuff we had to go through. It was amazing looking at my first college summer workout packet from way back in 1998 and comparing it to what we're doing now. At first, I couldn't believe how vanilla and simple it all was. Right now, my team would probably do the workout and ask me what the hell we were doing. I had no concept of training tempo, exercise order, agilities, nothing.
But a funny thing happened. The more I looked back at some of the things that I did, the more I found that I could've used this summer! Looking at how the workouts progress year after year, I can't believe all the things I've forgotten. It's unreal because when I read the workouts, they still look like someone else wrote them and I'm seeing them for the first time. They're now my Rosetta stone. They're just trying to help me construct a masterpiece.
I really feel like it will help us take our workouts to another level. I can’t wait for the off-season to come. This is one of the best projects I've ever done, and now I have a real resource ready and available whenever I need it. This project has also taught me a valuable lesson—always believe in yourself and what you're doing. When you do what you think and feel is right, you'll learn what you need to along the way just by doing it. Don’t get caught up in all those other things going on around you. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Listen to your gut, drown out the noise, and get after it.
New guys—you'll never write the perfect workout. It doesn't exist! Don’t ever get down on yourself. Keep the faith! The reason I kept my job and didn't get fired for being the worst strength coach ever back then (hang cleans after curls) is because I felt that what I was doing was right. The workouts may look awful and simple now, but back then, somehow it worked. The players got stronger. In spite of my programming, their conditioning improved and they got faster. It didn't happen because I wrote the Magna Carta of workouts. All of us, players and coaches, just believed. We worked our balls off, put our blinders on, and never looked back.
I think that this is a problem with too many young strength coaches today. They make the mistake of becoming discouraged because their workouts don’t seem as complex or cutting edge as this guy or that guy, or they're afraid to write a workout at all for some unknown reason. Many of my colleagues in this business have the same problem. I think there is too much information out there. As a new strength coach or intern, you get paralysis by analysis and can't filter it down to something that works. I say to hell with all that! What do you really care what other people do anyway? You have your own unique set of problems, solutions, players, and facilities. Do your own thing. Remember, a lion doesn't care what sheep think of him. He just eats them. It's time for strength coaches to get off the Bosu balls and get our asses back in the grind.
Use your common sense, create simple programs, and start kicking ass and taking names. Passion and hard work will make you succeed where others fail. That's the difference. I just fired another intern for that very reason. He didn't have any juice! Throughout my entire career, I've had one hard rule with all my interns—bring passion! I don’t care what you know or don’t know, you have to bring it every day. If you look back at all the old time strength coaches who blazed this path and built this profession to what it is now, you'll find the same thing—simple programs and hard work. They just put together a plan that they designed through trial and error and implemented it. I think that's missing in this generation of strength coaches.
Some of my best interns were history and IT majors, but they worked until there wasn't anything left. I would hire them to this day if they chose to be strength coaches. Interns and staff must have one purpose and one purpose only—to help the team be the best that it can be.
I tell my interns and players to act like APEX predators. APEX equals always pursuing excellence. That's our saying when players hit the wall or we're stumped on an issue or problem. Pursing greatness is the key to success, no matter the path it takes to get there.
Some of us were graduate assistants at big schools, some at high schools, and some not at all. Some have worked at every level imaginable. I started my career as a high school strength coach, and I wouldn't be a quarter of the coach I'm today if I hadn't done that. I didn't go to work, have someone hand me the workout, follow a sheet, and go home. I had to learn by doing, by trial and error, day in and day out. It's what we're really doing that matters, regardless of where you are or at what level.
This profession is an art, not a science. So don’t get discouraged along the way. Just do it. Just don’t power clean after curls.