Most people who work in public education ‘wear many hats’ at their schools. When we asked Devin Wendel, a man of many hats, if he was interested in writing an article for PLT4M, his brain went racing.

Put on the ATC hat and talk about S+C and injury prevention? Put on the AD hat and talk about the weight rooms relationship to on-field success? Devin has so many hats, we won’t play out all the other ideas he could have ran with!

What we came up with instead were his 11 Benefits of S+C for the HS Level. The goal for Devin is to start a conversation, not end one. What number on the list stands out to you? What would you add to the list? Let us know!

Devin Wendel

Meet The Author: Devin Wendel

11 Reasons Every High School Needs A Strength and Conditioning Program

Ask a group of 14-18 year old student-athletes to, “Get into a good squat position,” and see what happens. Based on my past experiences as a coach, athletic trainer, and athletic director, you will likely see a few different things. 

You will have a few individuals that keep their chests up, have a nice flat back, thighs parallel to the ground – good, safe form. Another handful will likely be looking around to their peers for guidance and mimicking what the first group is doing but may need minor corrections or cues to help them establish the proper position. Meanwhile, several others are likely in some sort of awkward position, but probably not one that resembles a true and safe squat technique. The reason for this is many athletes are never taught the fundamentals of strength training and conditioning by their youth or secondary school coaches.

Through the proper implementation of strength and conditioning programs, we can better educate student-athletes on the fundamental components of body awareness and proprioception, which are crucial to athletic performance as well as injury prevention.

This scenario I just played out got me thinking…what are all the different benefits of strength and conditioning for high school students that I have seen throughout the years?

 Listed below is a small sample of benefits that I have noticed during my experiences training athletes, educating coaches, and treating athletic injuries. And because I have worn so many hats, I couldn’t keep it to the catchy Top 10 Benefits of S+C, I just had to go with 11. So here they are. Let’s go!

My 11 Benefits of S+C for the HS Level:

1. Increases athletes’ strength, speed, flexibility, agility, balance, endurance, reaction speed, and proprioception.

I thought I would start with an easy one that we can all agree on!

2.  Identifies weaknesses as well as potential risk factors that could lead to injury.

This aligns with ATC Domain # 1 – Prevention of Athletic Injury. This, in turn, allows ATC to provide more quality care spread across fewer injuries.

3. Prepares athletes for sport-specific training that will both improve their athletic performance while at the same time identifying and combating inherent risks associated with their sport.

Combine Athletic Performance and Injury Prevention – Music to my ears. And with injury prevention, you get the results right. Which leads me to number 4.

4. Keeps more players on the field, allowing for more individual and team success throughout a season.

And for teams and individuals to have success, lets not forget how important it is for everyone to be on the same page…

5. Builds communication between Strength Coach, Head Coach, Athletic Training Staff, and student-athletes.

With this communication, we can help provide education and guidance to head coaches that they can use during times when the strength coach or ATC is unavailable.

As you can see from 1-5, I cover a lot of ground. But let’s tap into a few more specifics. First and foremost, we want to be on the same page as our kids, and what better place to start than in the weight room?

Looking for ways to get everyone on the same page for their strength and conditioning? Check Out PLT4M!

6. Builds a foundation of trust between athletes and the coaching staff.

As we hear time and time again, a lot of kids do not love the weight room. They love their sports. So, put the weight room in that context. This leads me to point 7…

7. Prepares the body for reaction to a sports movement. Basic S+C translates to things like being tackled, boxing out, or jumping over a person or other obstacles on the field.

And you’ll get the kid’s attention once they hear they can dominate the low block on the court. And maybe you don’t have to tell them number 8 just yet, but I think its worth noting. Confidence is key.

8. Increases students self-confidence and improved decision making on the playing field, making athletes less timid and prone to injury. 

So these have been in the context of our high school world, but we don’t just live in that, do we? What about what is next? For athletes looking for the next level, the weight room will most certainly be a part of it.

9. Prepares athletes for the expectations that will be placed on them if they intend to play at the next level after high school.

And the next level or not, the weight room is a place for life skills. These last 2 points are where it can all wrap up. It is why we work with students in the first place. Whether we are coaches, athletic trainers, athletic directors, we can all get behind these. 

10. Teaches basic movements that can translate to a lifelong practice of exercise after their athletic careers are over. It provides an outlet for maintaining a healthy lifestyle after high school. 

11. Allows athletes to set and work towards the objective, realistic, and attainable goals that are within their control, a skill that is essential for success in life. 

While this list could go on and on, these have been the key benefits that I have noticed in my experience. I would love to hear what others tout as key benefits that strength and conditioning programs provide in relation to both injury prevention as well as life-long well-being.