In the five years of being a high school strength and conditioning coach I have had the opportunity to establish three different programs with three different types of athletes, in addition to assisting coaches in establishing programs with a number of success stories with each. Below are some suggestions to implement a successful program.
The first thing that needs to be done is to determine what type of athletes you have and what their needs are. Testing your athletes is one of the most important steps to take. Your tests should consist of runs and jumps that mimic their sport to determine their starting points. Without testing, you will not be able to appropriately evaluate your program. Based on your athlete's ability, determine how to address common high school injuries. A good program holds injury prevention as the highest priority.
Second, what type of program are you going to install? These days you will see a lot of hybrids (Power lifting, Weightlifting, body building, general fitness, etc). But no matter what type of program you are a fan of, you should include some type of Olympic movements. These are full body lifts with a high crossover to almost all sports. The downside is these exercises take a high degree of skill to perform correctly. It is best to follow the coaching rule of "coach what you know" when dealing with Olympic lifts. If you do not know how to coach these movements, you can find someone to come in and teach them correctly (preferably someone who is a CSCS or USAW Coach).
Next, you will need to make an annual plan for your sport or team. Mark out holidays and days off then go ahead and fill in your upcoming schedule. You will also need to put on the schedule your pre-season, summer camps and other dates of training. Once you have this completed calendar you will know when your Off-Season, Pre-Season and Competitive periods are. Based off these times, you now have a better idea of how to progress (periodization) your program.
Periodization is and should be a huge part of your program. If nothing else, by properly progressing your program you will stay on track to achieving your team's goals. You cannot go in the weight room everyday and just make up a workout or lift heavy every day. You need to have a plan. For most basic high school programs linear periodization is all you will need to get started. This program involves having three load weeks and one peak week for 8 to 12 weeks. An important issue to keep in mind when you begin is to think small. As your incoming freshman come in, most of them will not be able to support their own bodyweight. Initially, don't have them lift more than they weigh. Working with freshman in the past, I've found that only doing bodyweight exercises, with the exception of teaching technique with the bar or PVC pipe, has been most successful.
Exercise selection is going to be your next step. This is a very critical part of your program because you don't want to be wasting time training movements that are not relevant to your sport. You will need to break down your sport to the most common movements. For high school athletes your greatest needs for any sport will be posterior chain muscles of the back (including glutes), hip flexors and stabilization muscles of the hip, abductors and adductors and abdominals. When you are at this step do not get caught up trying to train every position different (they are not pro's). For the most part, athletes this age just need to be athletic. When you have them in practice is where you can teach them the skills of the game. Skill is going to be the hardest thing to train, so you are better off training your athletes to be stronger with better movement first, then the skill will be more manageable.
Now that we have all of these steps completed, determine the order of the exercises. The best way to describe this is to train fast to slow and multi-joint to single joint. You will want to make sure you have your Olympic lifts first in your program. These lifts require multi-joints and are done in an explosive manner. You will then want to move to your squats, presses and pulls. Ending with single joint exercises that are complimentary to your workout. You also need to know how to split you workouts up throughout a week of training. Are you going to train 3 or 4 days a week? When are you going to condition? What does your practice schedule look like? These are a few of the questions you need to answer when splitting your workout. The most successful split with high school athletes is an upper/lower/total split. By splitting up your workout in this manner one can get a total body lift in by doing upper one day and lower another, and a total body lift on game day. Did he just say lift on game day? Yes, you can have your athletes lift on game day if they are lifting correctly and follow the correct prescribed percentages.
So what are the correct percentages you ask? I have found that keeping the percentages around 70%-80% for 2-5 reps gives high school athletes a good lift but does not kill them. Also this full body lift is in the morning hours to allow for proper recovery. By having the lift in the morning the athlete can get some good work in and does not have to lose a lift day because of a game.
At the very end of your workout you will want to wrap everything up with a circuit or something the whole team can do together. This will help with teamwork and getting your athletes to compete. This is not something to run them into the ground but something to bring their heart rate back down and challenge them. I have used push-up and pull-up circuits and core circuits. This helps to put the final touches on your workout for the day.
Once again, these are suggestions I have found useful to implementing a successful high school program, but every school and athlete is different. If you would like to learn more and/or get your team to a higher level, FAST® in North Central Phoenix will be hosting a Fly Solo Camp November 14th @ 8AM.http://www.nsca-lift.org/Fly Solo Program/flysolocamp.shtml