School-Wide S+C – Trial & Error
Wisconsin Dells High School always had the hopes of getting more students into the weight room, but never quite knew how to go about doing it. While coaches and teachers had good intentions, the Athletic and Physical Education departments were always disjointed.
Brad Rohling, coach and PE teacher at the school, took his fair share of attempts at getting more student-athletes into the weight room. Through trial and error, Brad looked to find something that would get kids excited about weight training and a way to get coaches on board.
One way he tried to grow the program was through summer training.
“We started a summer strength and conditioning class, which was great for the fall sports to get ready. But then there wasn’t any follow-through. By the time winter sports started, we had negated any gains made in the summer.”
With no real in-season plan from coaches, Wisconsin Dells looked at PE as another possible option for more students to get involved during the school year. With the backing of administration, the PE department formed two strength and conditioning classes.
Without much of a training plan in place for the classes, there was confusion amongst the students on what they should be doing.
“We would come up with workouts for our fi-ed department. Sports coaches were on their own to come up with workouts and what they thought was best. Kids were torn. It was just a hodgepodge of things thrown together. There was no continuity between the Physical Education or Athletic Department.”
And with the lack of continuity, the school’s stakeholders decided that they had to take action to create a unified strength and conditioning program.
Transition to School-Wide Unity
The PE department, Athletic department, and administrators all set out with a common goal for school-wide unity.
“The basis was to create a year-round strength and conditioning program, where we didn’t have these gaps in training.”
It started with an all hands on deck meeting. In conversation, the coaches and teachers agreed they shared a common set of goals for Wisconsin Dells. Through strength and conditioning, they wanted to educate students coming to the weight room for the first time, while helping to support the more experienced student-athletes who were ready for advanced training.
This two-pronged approach would eventually lead to a strong foundation and system in place that would enhance every students’ athleticism, strength, and injury prevention through a year-round training approach.
With a shared understanding of what strength and conditioning could eventually provide the students at the school, Wisconsin Dells set out to make the change.
Coach Rohling is first to admit that the change did not happen overnight. More coaches and teachers were on board, but trial and error was still the name of the game when finding how to train students.
Wisconsin Dells looked to leverage PLT4M to align the school’s goals through a unified strength and conditioning program.
3 Program Options
With PLT4M’s training programs, Wisconsin Dells’ main goal was to eliminate the confusion around what training program students should be doing. The training was simplified by clearly defining where students were in their strength and conditioning journey.
Students could find themselves in one of three simple categories: Intro, In-Season, or Off-Season. Each of the three groups was assigned a program that fit their specific training needs.
Intro students had the opportunity to learn new movements and develop a foundation of proper form and technique. In-season students were able to continue training with mindfulness for the demands of their practice and game schedule. And off-season students could tackle a higher amount of volume, knowing that they had no other training demands to juggle.
And the initiative that started in a few classes has now expanded to 7 sections of strength and conditioning. Each class has a variety of the three groups, all training in the same weight room together,
“We have kids who have never been in the weight room before, lifting with kids who are three-sport senior athletes. Basically, we have three different classes going on within one class.”
It took time and patience to get where they are today, but Wisconsin Dells has found a way to get just about everyone in the weight room throughout the day.
Learn how schools are partnering with PLT4M to unify Athletic and Physical Education departments through S+C!
With opportunities for weight room participation throughout the entire day and year, Wisconsin Dells uses the data to keep everyone excited about the unified training.
Students have access to all of their information at the click of a button and are quick to let Coach Rohling know when they have possibly cracked a leaderboard at the school.
“We have created leaderboards for not only lifting but fitness testing as well. We have created a S+C bulletin board where we post leaders in ‘pound for pound’ and overall strength. This year we even started a lifter of the month club to recognize who is working hard. The kids always want to know if they are in the running for that award.”
Beyond student engagement, the coaches have been able to leverage PLT4M’s data tracking and progress reports to check in on how different groups of athletes are performing.
“All coaches attend year-round athletic department meetings to track athlete data and maintain accountability. Before PLT4M, it was a nightmare to try and see if what we were doing was actually working. Now we can see the progress that kids are making, where they stack up amongst each other, and who needs improvement.”
Trial and Error
The theme of Wisconsin Dells’ strength and conditioning journey has been trial and error. There were a variety of different speed bumps along the way that could have brought Rohling and other stakeholders to a halt.
Wisconsin Dells was willing to embrace the challenge, work together, and find the right recipe that was going to let everyone advance in strength and conditioning.
In recent years, high school strength and conditioning has evolved significantly and will only continue as more value is placed on the weight room across the country.
Although Wisconsin Dells has come a long way, they still take the trial and error mentality. Wisconsin Dells is more than willing to continue their own evolution in the hopes of providing the best possible experiences for their students, coaches, and teachers at the school.
One thing is sure, the strength and conditioning program at Wisconsin Dells is only going to get stronger!