After working with high school athletes on a daily basis for the past year, there are a few things I strongly suggest all high school athletes start doing immediately to improve in their sport.

1.      Lighten the weight. Yes, we all know how cool you look quarter squatting four plates. The cold hard fact is your form sucks and your ego is impeding your progress. Learn what parallel is and if you don’t know, look it up. Better yet, have someone coach you to parallel. Once you know what parallel is, make every repetition parallel.

2.      Stretch. Tight muscles cause injury—plain and simple. You don’t stretch enough even with your five minutes before and after practice. Stretching should be a daily and consistent regimen. Stretch your hips, shoulders, hamstrings, chest, and low back. You know the stretches, and you know how to count to twenty slowly. Make it happen.

3.      Drink water. You are 70 percent liquid. Your muscles are liquid. Limiting water reduces your ability to perform and leads to the risk of injury. Drink water and drink more water. Leave the super hydro caffeine sugar blasters at home.

4.      Train something that isn’t on the front of your body. Nothing irks me more than watching a kid who has free time do an hour of bicep curls and then walk over and ask me how to get bigger arms in between sets of deadlifts. I usually tell him to pull something heavy like in a deadlift or even do a pull-up.

5.      Get the hell off the machines. Look, I like machines for certain movements and they have a tremendous advantage with novice lifters to help teach proper execution. But they’re not advantageous to developing an overall athlete. Instead of doing a bunch of chest flies, grab some real estate and perform push-ups. With bands, everyone, including girls, can safely perform pull-ups. If there aren’t any bands available, use blast straps to perform an inverted row. Even better, use the bar in a power rack and perform inverted rows.

6.      If it sucks, do more of it. To be honest, I don’t like conditioning. Nothing is more difficult for me than sled drags and Prowler work. But I do it regularly, not because I want to but because it keeps me in shape for lifting and competing. I know you don’t like to run, and I know the glute ham raises are hard. Do them anyway and then do more because it makes you better.

You may not play sports past your high school career and that’s OK. If you plan to play at the next level, I strongly suggest you heed my advice and work to make it worth your while.