Can high school teams build a competitive edge through strength and conditioning, or is winning simply a matter of getting talented athletes to come out for the team?
In every state, there are consistently successful high school athletic programs. Each season might not always end in a state championship, but many of the same schools, year over year, find a way to compete at a high level.
So what separates the good from the great? Rob Dement, now in his 9th year as Athletic Director at Centerville High School in Ohio, isn’t afraid to ask that question.
“We have always been considered relatively successful ourselves and have been known to compete at a high level. But when we would play a team we matched up with well from a talent perspective, we found they were more physical and would win more 50-50 balls. As I reached out to those Athletic Directors, I often found the key difference was they had a well-established strength and conditioning program.”
Whether it was an outside strength coach from a local college, a certified coach on staff, or a research-backed program via a training app, each school had structure and science behind their weight room program.
Successful Sports Coaches, Not Strength Coaches
As Rob did more digging into the success of other programs, he wanted to be mindful of what his coaches and teams were good at. With almost 1,000 student-athletes, Centerville High School had its fair share of successful sports programs.
As Athletic Director, Rob wanted to be sure he supported all of them in establishing a strength and conditioning program, “We have sports coaches who are great at what they do within the sport they love. But the majority of them have never had to put together a comprehensive weight room plan.”
Rob wanted to provide a comprehensive plan and program that helped teach new athletes movements, worked on all aspects of strength and conditioning, considered injury prevention, and more.
But he didn’t want the responsibility of creating workout programs to fall on individual sport coaches. Instead, he hoped the program they could create as an athletic department would be supported and encouraged by the Centerville sports coaches.
“The role of a sports coach is not to be the strength coach, but rather to emphasize and prioritize it to their athletes. As coaches, they have the biggest pull in helping them see the importance.”
Finding The Right Fit
Knowing that a newly developed strength and conditioning program would need structure and work in tandem with the sports coaches, Rob set out to find the right fit. In his research, Rob found something that looked to click on all cylinders.
“We found a program that had demonstration videos, tracks progress, and provided all sorts of helpful insights. But most importantly, it set up structure and training plans for our different groups of athletes.”
Centerville signed up with PLT4M, the high school strength and conditioning program. With the new addition, all Centerville athletes would have access to comprehensive strength and conditioning programs via an app.
But the program did not side-step coaches. Instead, it tapped into their strengths,
“I can’t stress enough how much we felt like it was a partnership. Coaches are creatures of habit and are good because they believe in what they do. Getting them to think differently can be hard, but PLT4M has truly been a partner that allows autonomy for coaches and is so clearly willing to adjust and adapt to fit our needs.”
Finding The Competitive Edge
One team that has particularly taken to PLT4M is the Centerville football team.
The team has taken advantage of PLT4M throughout the entire year, tapping into the in-season, off-season, and even remote options when necessary. When Rob pokes his head into the weight room, he sees the excitement from the group,
“The kids love having personalized weights and reps and enjoy competing with their teammates via the different leaderboards PLT4M provides. We have a few TV monitors that the coaches will display the leaderboards, and it certainly gives the kids that little competitive excitement. It is a lot of fun to watch.”
And as the kids get excited about increasing weights, the coaches and athletic director can take comfort in knowing that they are adding weight safely because of the program’s structure and scientific backing.
“Form and technique are crucial in the weight room. With the instructional videos, there is no question about how athletes should move with weights. Even better, the coaches are able to reinforce with real time feedback, what the kids have seen in the PLT4M videos.“
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While the football team is just one example, Rob is encouraged by the additional teams starting to get in the weight room consistently.
“We have made progress and are starting to see the culture of our weight room take shape.”
Rob knows that progress takes time but is excited that Centerville has the structure to see a complete strength and conditioning program develop. Not every sport, coach, and athlete is taking full advantage of it yet, but just like anything, it takes time. Rob looks at the future of the strength and conditioning program with high aspirations,
“We have had a lot of success with girls and boys teams up to this point. And now we have the structure and know that others teams can see and use these rock-solid examples for why they should also get involved.”
It won’t be long before Centerville has even more student-athletes going in and out of their weight room. As high school athletics constantly look for the next competitive edge, this school is confident in what their future holds.