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Team Conditioning Systems:
You Need To Give To Get

Monday, November 5, 2001

By Gregory "Graig" White
SJSports Staff Writer

I've come across many coaches who believe that the road to success in the weight room is a complex formula full of secrets. It's my desire to bring the answer to you. The secret to having success in the weight room is getting your athletes to believe. Getting them to understand, buy into, your vision of the "big picture".

My coaching philosophy is, "the best way to motivate is to communicate". More often than not motivating athletes is more art than science. One of the main goals is to create an environment that generates excitement, an excitement that touches everyone in the room driving them to greatness. When it works, I use the language that everyone can understand, the need to use multi-syllabic words is at a minimum. I believe in showing a great deal of enthusiasm, words and actions to create our desired effect.

This past summer I met Kellen Holly. He is a 6' 3" 235 lb senior defensive end/tight end for Camden Catholic High School in New Jersey and he is driven. We had the opportunity to spend some time getting him ready for his senior season, and what a time it was! In my world, and the world of good athletes, the component needed most to ensure success is desire. Without it you have nothing.

Kellen brought with him a sense of urgency but no panic. Kellen came in with the understanding that he know where he wanted to be and just needed a little help getting there. He came to every scheduled session, eager to get going which let me know that whatever he does in life, he will be a success.

We lifted, we ran, we stretched, but most of all Kellen, his parents, my staff and I believed in each other enough to get the job done. Holly is in the early stages of a successful winning season, and looking at playing at the next level. Holly is a coach's dream, does as he is asked, couldn't ask for anyone better.

I'm working to show coaches ways to "create" athletes like Kellen for their squads. The first step is to decide whether you and your staff are training them or coaching them. Now you may ask, "what's the difference"? Well there is a huge difference. Training is having someone write or even copy a workout without really caring how it fits into the overall big picture of your athletes. Most high schools have trainers not coaches and to be honest going into different weight rooms, it shows. A coach pays attention to all the little things, like the progress the athletes are making, the effort they are giving during the conditioning period, and how they are feeling. Being a strength coach requires more than holding a stop watch and yelling "put the weights back after you are done lifting." The goal of my staff is to be able to relate to the athlete 24 hours a day! More often than not success is determined by what the athlete does during the hours he is not with us. It's our job to coach the whole person and understand how the different systems on the body are affected by the different life and training variables.

Having someone on your staff that has the needed knowledge and is willing to share it, is one of the first things football coaches should do. Once that is done get out of the coaches way and let them do the job they where brought in to do, if your athletes think you can get them to where they want to be they will follow you anywhere. I've seen coaches who were "assigned" weight room duty and had no clue to how to run it. Coaches, if you don't want to do it, don't. Your lack of enthusiasm will carry over to the players and the session will be worthless. Cultivate relationships with coaches who have experience and want to help, and even more importantly, once you find that person keep them with you. The continuity will do wonders for your program.

Secondly, allow your athletes to be involved in the process. Once Kellen knew where he wanted to be, we worked to create a protocol that would help him get there. By involving Kellen in the process kept him motivated, he realized that he now had a vested interest in his own success. And the best part about all of this is now the athlete has no one to blame if things don't go well.

Lastly and more importantly, listen to your athletes. You could learn something. Athletes who know they are valued will be more open to talk and let you know things you might not know. A great coach is an informed coach. Trust yourself, trust your staff and players and who knows before everything is said and done you might be adding to your ring collection.

Do you have a fitness or conditioning question for Graig? Send it to If your question is used in an article, you will receive a free Team Conditioning Systems t-shirt.
For previous Winning Ways, visit Graig's Archives

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