Young athletes are very curious, but often times don’t say much. A new atmosphere, a new coach, doing things they aren’t accustomed too, all can be extremely intimidating for them. Unfortunately for a strength coach, this does not provide the ideal situation. We want our athletes to be vocal and have high energy. A good coach will constantly talk with an athlete and ask questions to find out how there feeling that day, even before the workout begins. This can be as simple as asking “how was your day?” or “did you watch that game last night?”. How they respond is generally a limelight into how much attention and effort you will to provide for that one person. However, it can only take just a few seconds to help someone open up and become engaged in what they are about to be doing.
I have found that once you can establish a bond, a developed trust, or just an open line of communication with an athlete, the effort and production will take off. Becoming in tune with your athletes emotions and character will enable me to push them without them really knowing I’m doing so. They will trust and WANT to do the work, not have to be told to put more effort into something. In adding to this, I try to educate and empower them with knowledge of WHY they are doing things and HOW it will affect them. Giving them a clear mindset of how a certain movement such as a lateral hurdle hop to a stability hold helps develop proper angles of acceleration when making cuts and strengthens the posterior chain and core. Little tid-bits go a long way with letting them understand and become more in tuned with the movement, to really FEEL what they are experiencing. It’s the old theory of Mind-Muscle. Putting your thoughts into the muscle, movement, etc. and creating a much higher level of propioception and awareness. No one likes to just be told what to do and to do it with 100% effort without knowing why or what kind of results they should be looking to gain.
Without question I do this with every athlete, but since taking my new position and working with younger athletes, it is always a daily challenge (more psychological than physiological) to find ways to increase their output without them really knowing. I see it time and time again, a new athlete walks in while his mom and dad look on, is very shy and uninterested. After getting them away and opening up some dialogue, I find that they are being forced to come to workouts. This is the challenge that many coaches face and it’s what we do from that point forward that really has a gigantic effect on that athlete for the rest of there lives. How can I make them want to be there, to change there perspective on not only working out, but how strength and conditioning can have larger effects on other areas of there life; discipline, dedication, commitment, confidence and many more. I take on this responsibility and cherish it. Every coach should.