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Fatal Flaw #3: Not Accounting for Athlete Development

Fatal Flaw #3: Not Accounting for Athlete Development

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Published by MHGHFOOTBALL
Fatal Flaw 3 in High School Football Strength Programs
Fatal Flaw 3 in High School Football Strength Programs

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Published by: MHGHFOOTBALL on Feb 20, 2013
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05/14/2014

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Not Accounting For Athlete Development
This section discusses a huge program flaw that I estimate 85% of all high schoolcoaches are making. So what do I mean by not accounting for athlete development? Isimply mean that many coaches are not taking into account how each athlete developsfrom year to year. In other words, your freshmen should not be training the same way or  be using the same program as your senior athletes. Even if you know nothing aboutstrength and conditioning, you should still be able to look at the difference in physicaldevelopment between a freshman and senior athlete and determine that they are oncompletely different levels.So often I see coaches taking a training program that has been written withcollege athletes in mind and prescribing it to their high school team. Are all your playerscollege caliber athletes with college level physical development and college levelfacilities, meal plans, and recovery modalities? If not, do you think they should betraining the same way? I am not trying to attack anyone for there training methods. I amsimply trying to get my point across to coaches looking to improve their athletes. Thissection will explain how to account for these changes in development. If you did not yetread the first two sections, please do so as they are imperative to what I will go throughnext.One of my all-time favorite strength training books is “The Training of theWeightlifter” by Tudor Bompa. Coach Bompa is considered “The Father of Periodization”, if you do not know who Coach Bompa is I strongly recommend at leastdoing a quick Google search. In this book, Bompa talks about setting up a multi-year  progression plan for athlete development. By the time your players are seniors you want
 
them to shine on the field. You actually progress them on the field without thinking toomuch about it by using different developmental teams. For instance, skill development isoften broken down by class; when freshman come in they play freshman football for ayear. The next year you progress them to a junior varsity team. As juniors, if they areready, you move them to varsity. That is a form of progression! So you need to do thesame thing in the weight room.So this is what Coach Bompa has to say about multi-year planning, “Theuninterrupted development of the organism’s functional potential is fundamental to thegrowth of sports results. This is achieved by constant and systematic raising of theloading in year-round and multi-year training” (Bompa). So to simplify, make the program harder every year. Seems like common sense huh? So, how do you make itharder? There are two ways as far as I see it, you can increase the volume-load andincrease the technicality of lifts.Volume load is calculated as follows (VL = (Sets * Reps) * Weight Lifted). Sothe volume load for an athlete who performed 3 sets of 10 reps with135 lbs would be4050 lbs, some strength coaches calculate their workouts in what they call “tonnage”. Now, Coach Bompa would have you do this for each lift, each workout, each week, eachmonth, and for each year! The soviet era coaches were known for being very meticulous planning each workout this way. Understandably, unless you are a full time strengthcoach, you do not have time for this. So, all I am suggesting you do is to be aware of theamount of lifts you have your freshman do. It should be minimal in the beginning, because they are trying to master the basics and still have tons of room for growth. So begin gradually increasing the work they are doing in the weight room over time.
 
Between the freshman and sophomore years you will see the most dramatic increases intheir development and thus should be accounted for when developing your sophomoreclass workouts.The second way to progress your athletes is by adding more technical lifts. I feelthat for high school athletes, this is more even important then increasing volume load. Inmy first section, I told you that you needed to get your athletes strong before you canworry about developing power. On a year to year progression, this is where you canchange your emphasis. So, the difference between a freshman and juniors training program would be the addition of lifts like the power clean, jump squats, and plyometrics. If you did a good job at organizing your training your junior athletes should be capable of performing these movements well. Just do not rush to reach this point. If you feel like you have some less gifted junior athletes do not be afraid to hold back.My last point that I will make before I wrap this up is one that might scare a fewcoaches. How important are freshman and junior varsity games to you? The reason I amasking this is because during in-season training all gains become stagnant or non-existent.Coaches, typically do a bad job at structuring in-season training programs. I will discusshow to do this next section. So, what I advocate is keeping the training intensity higher during the season for freshman and sophomores. Now, obviously if you count on them being a contributor for varsity I do not recommend doing this. But, if someone is onlygoing to play freshman football you need to think of the big picture, which is developingthem into a great player junior and senior year.So let’s review what we discussed today. Changes in your training program toaccount for increases in physical development and maturity should be made every year.

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