In the high school setting, the strength and conditioning professional is in an ideal position to develop general conditioning programs for the student body, faculty, and staff. Incorporation of strength and conditioning principles in the required and elective health and physical education programs, along with the opportunity for faculty and staff to participate in wellness programs, can greatly enhance the overall physical health of the entire school population (1, 2). The high school strength coach is the most important person in a young athlete's life. Unlike most sports and activities that kids start participating in at the ages of 5-8 years old; during an athlete's high school years is when they are introduced to the beginning levels of strength and conditioning. This is where the athlete will build a 4 year foundation in which they will build off of for the remaining years in their sport. By the time an athlete reaches high school they may have had as many as 10 different coaches for one sport and as low as 0 strength and conditioning coaches. The high school strength coach has a great responsibility to an athlete's development and to protect them from injury.
Coaching at the high school level is the hardest level to coach at due to many levels of athletic abilities, training age, hormonal activity and rapid growth of the athletes at this level. This is where a high school strength coach must be a highly educated and certified coach. The high school strength coach will have the first influence over an athlete and how they respond to strength and conditioning. The athletes at these ages are dying to get into the weight room and the high school strength coach should have a quadrennial plan (4 year plan) in place. This is a 4 year plan that set a solid foundation for long term athletic success. The high school strength coach should be progressing the athletes so they are the best they can be by their senior year. We have seen it all too many times when an athlete looks great with all the promise of being a star, coming out of the gate their freshman year only to level off by their sophomore year.
High School Strength Coaches Responsibilities: Promoting a proper balance between athletics, athletic
skills, resistance training, conditioning, and academics. Teaching fundamental skills through strength-related exercises for safe and effective competition. Ensuring that students and student-athletes injured under his or her supervision receive prompt and appropriate medical attention consistent with district policies. Motivating athletes to perform to their maximum potential. Maintaining a positive and educational environment in the weight room, including motivational and educational posters and literature. Ensuring that workout facilities and equipment are safe, clean, and functional. Reporting unsafe and/or unusable equipment to the athletic coordinator. Being punctual to all workouts and remaining until all students and student-athletes leave the facility. Completing all assigned reports and records. Advising and coordinating with the head coach in fulfilling assigned responsibilities related to the strength and conditioning requirements for their sport. Advising and coordinating with the head coach in fulfilling the assigned responsibilities related to physical conditioning. (3)
One of the most vital pieces to the success of a high school strength coach and athlete is keeping records of their workouts, athletic testing and injuries. "If you don't know where you have been, how can you know where you're going?" A high school strength coach and athlete should be able to pull out a file that shows their progress and what worked and what didn't work. If you are just writing workouts on a white board with sets, reps and %, how can you know if the athlete will do that volume? Then if they can or can't, was it to easy, to hard? This is one of the things that separates a good high school strength coach from a great one.
Duties of a High School Strength Coach: Identify the sport-specific needs of the athletes for whom a program is being developed, including the energy systems' requirements and the degree and frequency of exercise the various muscle groups will experience. Give consideration to the time of the year in which the athletes begin training and vary the programs accordingly. Test and retest to measure the development of the various components of athletic ability being stressed in each sport. Evaluate performance levels by comparing athletes of the same age and sex based on their sport and position needs. Set goals for both individual athletes and teams based on the results of testing and evaluation. Implement programs for a specific sport at the appropriate time of the year, combining
strength-training techniques with proper conditioning drills. Be mindful of the special requirements of the multisport athlete and implement programs accordingly. Be mindful of the nonathlete in the school environment and design individual and group fitness programs. Set fitness goals and design programs to reach those goals for the non-athlete and evaluate them in conjunction with national and state goals for the general student populations. (4)
Teaching: The importance of strength training. Correct lifting techniques. Spotting techniques. Basic principles of resistance training. Exercise prescription. Eccentric and concentric principles. Various systems of resistance training. Various systems of strength training. Muscle group identification and muscle physiology. Flexibility. The inherent dangers of steroids, drugs, and ergogenic aids. Information regarding the pros and cons of sports supplements. Nutrition. Health benefits of exercise. Components of fitness.
By following these guidelines you can sure you are getting the most out of you athletes and make your athletic program the best it can be. A Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) will have the best knowledge and will know how to properly work with teams regarding the mentioned teachings and duties.
Eric Reed RSCC
NSCA Rocky Mtn Regional Director
1. Townsend, R. 1982. How to build a strength training and conditioning program in your high school. Natl. Strength Cond. J. 4. 1982.
3. Randy Best, National Strength and Conditioning, Volume 23, Number 3, page 7-10
4. Randy Best, National Strength and Conditioning, Volume 23, Number 3, page 7-10