Talk to almost any high school athletic director and they will tell you one of their biggest challenges is increasing buy-in and motivation amongst all of their athletes in the weight room. Many schools have active football programs, but with the prevalence of multi-sport athletes you need a full commitment by all sports and all athletes to achieve wide spread athletic success. Rene Hernandez, Athletic Coordinator and Head Football Coach at Chapin High School in El Paso Texas, is proud to see both his male and female athletes buying in and turning heads. As cars drive down the Patriot Freeway in El Paso, they will see over 200 high school student-athletes, girls and boys, on the Chapin High School Field training and preparing to head into the weight room. For many passing by, it is so striking that they call and ask Coach Hernandez to find out exactly what is going on. For Hernandez, now in his 28th year of coaching, the answer is always one of great pride, “Doing what we all know it takes to get better and make progress.” For Chapin, that progress comes from a dedicated group of student-athletes that have bought into working hard on a consistent basis in the weight room. To cultivate buy in, Rene and his coaching staff felt it was important to recognize progress. To do so, Chapin installed a bell on the wall which kids will ring any time a new personal best is achieved. Both the coaches and athletes get extremely excited anytime there is a chance for a milestone. No matter how big or small the improvement, senior or freshman, the athlete gets to go ring that bell as the rest of the gym is filled with celebration, praising the accomplishment of their teammate and peer. The personal records come in the form of a “workset”, being tasked to them through the PLT4M training app. Week by week, athletes have a chance to hit their workset and increase their max by 5 pounds. Successful worksets mean the chance to ring the bell. Furthermore, every adjustment is tracked so both coaches and kids can pull up historical progress and visualize how each student-athlete has progressed over their time at Chapin. However, the goal isn’t simply increasing your strength numbers at all cost. Chapin has always placed an emphasis on movement and technique first.
“Back when I was young, everyone thought you had to add more and more weight to get big and string, and some still do. Now, you better understand that focusing on teaching technique and proper movement is just as important, if not more so, when building better athletes.”For all Chapin athletes, strength and conditioning requires discipline and attention to detail when it comes to technique. The Huskies’ coaches and athletes leverage the PLT4M training app to gain insights on proper form. Using the demo videos built into the mobile app, Hernandez now sees his athletes coaching one another. The older athletes have adopted the language, and points of performance. They even practice what they preach, not only helping along their younger teammates, but also showing them how it’s done. Hernandez says that the continued buy in is making impacts throughout all of their athletic teams. Chapin’s female athletes are some of the strongest in the league and the coaches highlight their dynamic athleticism on and off the field. Chapin also recently entered a county powerlifting league where they won numerous meets and had athletes with consistent first place finishes in the lightweight and heavyweight divisions. Anywhere Chapin student-athletes are representing their school, Hernandez feels they are taking the lessons from the weight room with them.
“I see the belief in my athletes eyes that they know they can conquer anything! Whether it is the 4th quarter or a challenge in life, so much of that belief comes from the recognition of their hard work and the visualization of their progress in the weight room.”