3 Considerations For Building Your HS S+C Program
It is an exciting time to be in the world of strength and conditioning and sports performance. With a tremendous market for athletics, the aspect of athletic performance has been taken out of the shadows. Now it has been brought into the light, especially in the high school world.
There have been some who have been beating this drum for many years. But their hard work is finally coming to fruition with the increase in high school strength and conditioning.
Not only is it growing in the HS world but also in the overall collegiate world. We are now seeing more and more DIII college programs with one or even multiple full-time performance coaches to assist their programs.
It is a hot topic, and the iron has never been hotter to strike if you are looking to create a formal program in your school.
Coach Bres from PLT4M has done an article about the evolution of HS programs, and Coach Wendel from Mt Abraham HS in VT did an article on why every school needs an S+C program. Check out those articles for all the reasons every HS SHOULD have a formal program to benefit all athletes.
I want to go one step further on how we can begin to make these dreams come true as a profession. How do we actually make it happen when considering how to start with some preliminary steps? It all comes down to the research you have done, the connections you make, and the coverage you give yourself to run a program long term. Check out those three things in more detail below!
First: The Research
The articles that I mentioned above from the likes of Coach Bres and Coach Wendel are the first step. Looking towards programs that have done it, how they do it, and how it can work for your school is a great launching point.
Next, there is so much great work out there that captures the benefits of strength and conditioning for athletic performance. But, past performance, we know how important it is to keep our kids healthy.
Another considerable aspect of your research is joining with the athletic trainers of the sports world. Your goal here is to show how programs for athletic performance not only enhance play but allow kids to keep playing because they are healthy. Keeping your athletes safe from a preventative measure is the most significant case that we should continue to push in our profession.
Between the NSCA, S&C Journals, and other research outlets, there is so much information on how injury prevention begins with S&C. Other associations such as the NHSSCA are now thriving off of the HS S&C world by creating an organization built solely for one purpose, High Schools. Find what will help you make your argument!
Data and research are the language administrators these days, and there is enough of it out there to start your argument.
Find the administrators and community members who are advocates for Physical Education and Athletics. Look for people who will understand the language that you are going to speak. This will give you a platform to have your voice be heard.
Different roadblocks will come up along the way that you will need advocates in your school and community to take on. The connections with the administrators can help work through the logistics that may come with your building/area/state.
Connections with the community members can give you the firepower needed to keep pushing through obstacles. As we all know, when parents and community members get involved, things seem to happen faster.
For example, at Queensbury, we had to deal with different contractual and union restrictions. But we were able to work through them due to the connections we formed and people’s willingness to listen.
And lastly, the connections that come from other coaches can help you create that sound argument to make sure that nothing is left out on the program’s end. Coaches who have done it before and jumped through the hoops will help you take on what is in front of you.
Creating connections can only help your program. Having people on your side is always a good thing.
Want to see how you can incorporate PLT4M into your Physical Education or Athletic Department?
This is the last point to be made and the most crucial to the argument from a school administration standpoint. In today’s world, schools are continually trying to stay ahead of the curve. Schools are constantly making sure that everything meets the needs of students/community members to show that the school is always in compliance with today’s standards.
The weight room and the informal strength & conditioning program is finally catching up due to the microscope that is on all districts. Many of us know what is going on in the weight room. As most of us are former athletes, we have all spent some sort of time in a weight room.
But we have to be very careful about this notion. As mentioned before, data is an integral part of today’s school environment, but so is certifications. People will always try to poke holes in what coaches or teachers do because they have done it before, so “they know.” Having the right certifications and weight room training can go a very long way.
Because it is what you don’t know that will always come back to haunt you. The informal strength & conditioning program is filled with lots of things you don’t know. And let’s be frank, just because someone might be a sports coach or teacher, does not mean they can teach strength & conditioning.
Having someone in the weight room that is dedicated to strength and conditioning is important. Hopefully, they can get different certifications that support their role as a strength and conditioning coach or teacher. And if not, they can at least spend time dedicating themselves to finding the right resources to run a safe and effective program (Check out my other article on PLT4M for some insights there!)
No matter what the result is when looking to create a long term strength and conditioning program, it is vital to consider the liability and necessary steps a school should take to getting the right people and programs in place for continued success.
No strength and conditioning program is formed overnight. As a coach or teacher, or even as a department or school, you have taken on the mission to create a top level program. It will take time! But you have to go about it in a way that you have a strong foundation.
By having your research in order, involving and engaging key stakeholders throughout the process, and making sure that no one can poke any holes in your program, you are setting your program up for long term success!
JOHN MARTIN, CSCS, FMS
Physical Education Teach and Sports Performance Coordinator at Queensbury High School (NY)
2019 NYS NHSSCA Coach Of The Year
- Former Head Football Coach at Mt. Anthony (VT) and in charge of weight room there
- Former Intern at Duke Sports Performance under Coach Sonny Falcone and Football Coach Noel Durfey