The weight room is only as good as the consistent effort and attitude of those who sweat within its confines on a daily basis. The best equipment, the most advanced programs, and all of the flash in the world means nothing if you don’t have commitment from the athletes training.
Such dedication, or “Buy-In”, is the elusive holy grail that coaches are all chasing.
Commitment is a product of “Culture”. Culture is a culmination of inherent expectations and leadership that drives the daily behavior of your students and athletes.
It is our job as the #1 leader of our group, to set a culture that breeds hard work, accountability, and success. We want to inspire a feeling of personal investment in each one of our athletes. Doing so, though, is much easier said than done.
So, what steps can you take to cultivate this type of culture within the weight room, year over year?
1. Set the Tone
Great culture starts with YOU. It will be your passion, your attitude, and your convictions that will ultimately shape the culture in your weight room. More important than WHAT you say, is HOW you say it. Everything you express through body language, attitude, and tone, matters. Students are always watching.
2. Lead by Example
See point 1. You must define your message and practice what you preach! If you don’t exemplify model behavior, why would your athletes be inspired to do so themselves? Therefore, if you’re late and your rule is a 10 burpee penalty when tardy, then drop and hit your burpees. Students may giggle, but they will respect you even more.
3. Put the Athletes First
Successful weight rooms do not emphasize reps, sets, weights, workouts, or equipment. Rather, they emphasize the athletes who are giving their all. Our priority is the students themselves and an environment of collective effort, camaraderie, and competition.
4. Celebrate Winning
Encourage students by matching and challenging their current ability, not overreaching and tossing students into advanced programs too soon. Every student, regardless of ability, will be successful at something, make sure you provide that something. If a student hits a training mark, celebrate it! Create goals, poundage clubs, leaderboards, and inject competition within workouts, weeks, and seasons to drive effort and engagement.
5. Plan, Plan, Plan Ahead
Nothing derails a weight room like inefficiency. A great coach knows there is no place for poor planning or a lack of preparation. You must be ready, at any given moment, to work with any athlete that walks through your doors. Create your entire progression of programs ahead of time – something for every level of experience and schedule. Proper education, progression, and scheduling ahead of time will ensure students are being set up for success.
6. Explain Your “Whys”
Don’t just work your athletes, teach them. Believe it or not, kids really do want to know “why”. Empower students with an education so that they believe in what you are asking of them.
7. Invest in Your Home
Your room is a physical reflection of yourself and your culture. With some sweat and a few dollars you create a better environment. Small changes to the atmosphere can have a huge impact, providing the catalyst for big change in culture. Clean the room, rearrange the equipment in a more orderly fashion, buy cheap new basics like PVC’s/medballs/bars/clips/
8. Respect Your Home
No matter the situation you’re in, you can create an atmosphere you’re proud of. Care for your equipment, place a priority on order and accountability in the room. Even if it’s not much, be grateful for the equipment you do have, take pride in it and take care of it to keep it in tip-top shape. If you show that you care, the students will follow suit.
9. Make it Last
Want to make a lasting mark at your school? You must be willing to be a vocal and proactive advocate for your own efforts and that of your students. Every student should have the right to a complete physical education. They deserve a place to better themselves, physically and mentally, under the tutelage of a knowledgeable and passionate coach. Campaign for yourself and your program – convince your PE/Athletics department to invest in the betterment of it’s students.
10. Have Fun!
Energy and enthusiasm is infectious. So, if you’re having a bad day – if you’re tired, you’re unhappy with colleagues, you’re personal life is bumpy … you must rise above it. Put it all aside when it comes time to work with your athletes. For you, and your athletes, the Weight Room should be a place where nothing else matters.
You owe it to them to give it your best each day, because you’re expecting their best each day in return. We’re investing in our student’s physical development and well-being, there can be no more important mission that that.