elitefts™ Sunday edition

High School Strength Coaches - Don't Make This Mistake

Since I threw head coaches under the bus over the past couple of weeks, I think it's time to point out some things we, as strength coaches, do wrong. And before anyone responds to any of this with vitriol, understand that I KNOW ABOUT THESE MISTAKES BECAUSE I HAVE MADE THEM ALL MYSELF.

Don't train high school kids like they're adults.

Everywhere you look online, you'll see articles, pictures and videos of professional athletes being trained. Some of this is good stuff and some of it is absolute crap, but there's no denying the fact that we're in a new age when it comes to this stuff, and the access to the way these guys do things is easier than ever. This, however, can be a problem for the inexperienced strength coach.

What it is, is information overload. I can remember the first time I was ever introduced to "our" style of training. This was back in the late 90's when a bunch of powerlifters I trained with told me about conjugate periodization and W-----e. Shortly after that, I found what Dave was doing with elitefts™ and quickly became fascinated by the idea that strength equals speed. To me, it explained a lot about my own athletic career and why I never got quite as fast as I thought I could. As it turns out, I trained the "wrong" way throughout my career by playing for coaches who were obsessed with Olympic lifting and running us to death, as opposed to the "less is more" philosophy and getting us stronger all around. Looking back, I'm actually embarrassed about how little squatting I actually did when I was playing, in favor of high rep hang clean sessions and running until I puked.

Stronger Equals Faster

Anyway, the point here is that when I came across people who told me that the secret to getting fast is to get strong – and that the way to get strong is to lift heavy on full recovery – it was an absolute revelation because it made perfect sense to me. Once that door opened, I bought into everything they were saying hook, line and sinker. If a guy said one thing that made sense, EVERYTHING he said made sense – which meant that EVERYTHING he did had a seal of approval that meant I needed to use it. In for a penny, in for a pound, right?

I had to slow WAY the f--k down with this stuff. It's great that I was giving Dave business, but you can't train a 15-year-old kid the same way you'd train a 35-year-old powerlifter. I didn't know that back then. I didn't even think about it. All I knew was that I needed to have the kids box squat, board press, do partial lifts, and do it all WITH BANDS AND CHAINS!!!

Don't Shoot Before Engaging

After talking to dozens of coaches who knew their shit, however, I learned that it's pointless to bring a gun to a knife fight, if you will. A 15-year-old kid isn't going to need to put bands or chains or weight releasers or anything else on the bar for quite a while – especially when he can't even do a damn pushup. You have X number of bullets in your training gun, so why shoot them all before it's even time to engage?

Too many guys still do this, though. They see what they see on YouTube, on all sorts of websites, and even here at elitefts™, and they think that just because it's appropriate for a pro athlete, it's perfectly fine for their own kids. I spoke to guys like this at every seminar and clinic I ever went to, and it's funny to me, because they're still where a lot of us were several years ago with regard to discovering this stuff for the first time.

Long story short, a good high school strength coach needs to design programs with his athletes' training ages and strength levels in mind – with the knowledge that what works for a 1,000 pound squatter isn't always appropriate for a kid whose knees wobble when he tries to walk up a flight of stairs.