Plymouth’s Complete Approach To Student-Athlete Development

Bird's eye view of inside the Plymouth High School weight room with students training.

At Plymouth High School in Wisconsin, the strength and conditioning program is about far more than lifting weights. The athletic department has taken a unified approach to developing the complete picture of student-athletes.


As a result, Plymouth student-athletes are growing physically and mentally as they train throughout the year. Better yet, the school is seeing its approach pay off with winning seasons and state championship success. Here are the 4 keys to Plymouth’s complete approach to student-athlete development.

The 4 Keys to Student-Athlete Development


1) Training Together 

When you walk into the weight room at Plymouth High School, you see a wide range of students training together. Mark Vollbrecht, teacher and coach at Plymouth, says that the school has always stressed the importance of community, 


“We make it a point for student-athletes of all grade levels and different teams to be in the weight room at the same time. This helps to build a culture of togetherness and unity.” 


In addition, Mark says that the same message goes beyond the weight room, 


“We want our athletes to take these relationships and go support one another as they compete. If you are a football player, go to a soccer game or swim meet to support your peers, and vice versa. It creates a sense of community that is infectious at our school.” 

Students working out on the inside turf at Plymouth High School.
Students working out together at Plymouth High School.

2) Well-Rounded Physical Development 


Inside the weight room, Plymouth student-athletes are hard at work. Mark explains the well-rounded approach to the program, 


“We aim to develop strength, speed, power, and capacity. Many of our students are multi-sport athletes. Our goal is to develop well-rounded athletes who can take on the unique demands of playing different sports.”


To help with this, Plymouth utilizes PLT4M to deliver personalized training programs. Mark says that the addition of PLT4M has helped the athletes and coaches take a data-driven approach to training, 


“Student-athletes access and log individualized weights as they train. And the most significant part is we can measure and highlight the improvement.” 


While they train and track a wide variety of data, the coaches use the core lifts to help showcase the big-picture improvements students make throughout different parts of the year. 

Chart showing average gain in core lifts for Plymouth student-athletes.
Chart showing average gain in core lifts for Plymouth student-athletes. (Girls - Winter Results. Boys - Summer Results)

3) Injury Prevention 


While strength and gains are important, they are only beneficial when student-athletes are healthy and can stay on the field. One of the most significant benefits of strength and conditioning is injury prevention. 


Mark says that athletic trainer Yoshi Ono has done a fantastic job emphasizing the importance of injury prevention with all student-athletes, 


“Yoshi has been a huge proponent and leader of our strength and conditioning program. If we can keep kids safe and healthy, it will translate to competition.” 


As a result, injury prevention is a top priority for developing the complete picture of student-athlete development. 

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4) Mental Training 


Finally, Plymouth utilizes the strength and conditioning program as a conduit for mental training. While the coaches connect mental training to all aspects of the program, they also dedicate a day called “Mental Toughness Tuesdays.”


During these sessions, coaches present on different topics like leadership, perseverance, grit, and determination. After wrapping up the lesson, athletes head to the field and complete a functional training body-weight circuit.


Mark explains why these sessions are so important to Plymouth,


“Being a great student-athlete is more than just how big or fast you are. These sessions show a true commitment to the complete development of our student-athletes on and off the field.” 

Inside look at one of Plymouth's mental training lessons.
Inside look at one of Plymouth's mental training lessons.

Seeing Success Of Plymouth’s Approach 


As Plymouth High School has dedicated time and energy to the strength and conditioning program, they have started to see success on the fields of competition. 


Last year, the Girl’s Soccer team completed an impressive season culminating in a state championship victory. Mark says that this group has been one of the most dedicated teams when it comes to training, 


“The talent and dedication of our girl’s soccer team is something our whole community was proud of.” 


And other teams at Plymouth are also seeing success on the field. For example, the football team’s early morning lifts have translated to Friday nights. The team is looking to make a playoff push in the upcoming months. 


Key Takeaways on Student-Athlete Development at Plymouth 


When Mark reflects on the success at Plymouth High School, he highlights the unified approach the school has taken, 


“We have an incredibly supportive athletic department. And our head coaches all make it a point to encourage their student-athletes to get in the weight room.” 


Together, the school has rallied around the power of strength and conditioning for all student-athletes. More importantly, they are focusing on more than just lifting weights, but building the complete picture of student-athlete success. 

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