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Do athletes succeed in spite of you or because of you?

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I’ll tell you the truth. I really don’t like
writing programs for athletes. It’s boring, time
consuming and you sit there with notes and books
and papers all over the place, all telling you to
do something different.

So when people ask me to write them programs I
politely decline.

But recently an athlete came to me with their summer
training program for another sport. It was so
incredible that I had no choice but to write her
a program.

Because it would take half the winter to undo the
ill effects of this program. What she handed me
was classic – a classic dinosaur program.

And I’m old school, don’t get me wrong. But not that
old school.

Here is a sample day from this program…

Here is the strength training program for this group
of female high school soccer players. Keep in mind
I have not changed the workout for effect. This is
exactly what they were given to do. I invite
your feedback below, I have copied it verbatim:

Day 1: Upper Body

Bench Press  3 x 12
Dummbell fly 3 x 12
Bicep curl   3 x 12
Shoulder press 3 x 12
Tricep extension 3 x 12
Pull up 3 x max
Lat Pull 3 x 12

Day 2: Lower Body

Squats 3  x 12
Cleans 3 x 12
Leg extensions 3 x 12
Calf raises 3 x 12
Dead Lift 3 x 12
Plate Raise 3 x 12
Wind Mill 3 x 20

Conditioning Workout:

Day 1: Stamina Training

2-3 miles (7 min/mile pace)
Ball Skills: 30 min

Day 2: Speed Training
Sprints by % (30 seconds rest intervals)

a. 3 x 20y (75, 85, 100)
b. 3 x 30y (75, 85, 100)
c. 3 x 40y (75, 85, 100)
d. 3 x 50y (75, 85, 100)
Ball skills: 30 min

I’m not putting in the day 3 agility day because
I honestly don’t even know what it means.

Think about that for a second.
Now, do I blame the coach for putting together this,
well, less than effective program?

Not entirely.

The coach is busy with a regular job and a family.
clearly there isn’t the time or energy to invest
in understanding and applying modern training

Most coaches just do what they were taught to do by their
coaches. Who just do what they were taught to do
by their coaches…

This specific coach isn’t even the point of this
article. The point is that we often think we’re
doing the right thing with our training because
it’s what we did.

And we were pretty successful. And, under that type
of training, our teams and athletes are pretty

So we must be doing it right, right?

Not so fast.

In my experience competing as an athlete all the
way through the collegiate level, as a coach and
having spoken with parents from the 4 corners of
the Earth, there is a fundamental truth we have
to consider.

Most successful athletes in most programs succeed
in spite of their coaching instead of because of
their coaching.

Is there any chance at all that this could be
happening in your situation?

If we’re not continuously updating our program,
taking notes and improving our knowledge base
then we are flat out hurting our athletes.

And any success they have is in spite of our
best efforts to indirectly sabotage their hard

If you’re doing the same things you did last year
and the year before that, well, that’s not quite
good enough in my opinion.

The best coaches I know are constantly second
guessing their workouts and programs – because they
know they’re a better coach this year than they
were last year. And that means next year they’ll
look at this year and say ‘I could have done better.’

So we try to make improvements to our improvements
before we know exactly what needs to improve.

For good coaches it’s a never ending cycle.

But it forces us to move forward and evolve.

We can all do a better job for our athletes. My
season ended 2 weeks ago and I’m already waist deep
in articles, DVDs and notes in preparation for
next year.

Because I know I can do better. In good conscience
I can’t go back next year running the same program
as this year. I wouldn’t be doing my job.

What are you doing to ensure your
athletes have their most successful year ever?

Will they succeed in spite of your efforts or
because of commitment and effort?

That is entirely up to you.


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