Creating A High School Strength Program – Pt. 1

High school athletics are becoming more and more specialized by the day. Kids are looking for individual training outside of school in order to get an edge. They are playing more travel ball and loading their schedules with games. In order to combat this and set your high school program apart, you need to provide quality services that they cannot find anywhere else. The most obvious is a quality strength and conditioning program.

The first thing you need to consider is what is the sport you are coaching? This may seem obvious, “Well duh Moc, I’m coaching baseball” Ok sounds great, but what does baseball require? Are players constantly running (endurance)? Are there short bursts of power followed by rest? Is jumping essential? Do they cut? Are they squatting? Single leg? As you can see there are tons of questions that describe your sport in question. I think the best way to go about answering these questions is to pretend you are describing your sport to someone who has never seen it played before. You’ll quickly realize just how difficult your sport actually is.

Ok so you’ve established your sport. What now? The next logical questions to ask are how many athletes do you have and what kind of equipment do you have access to? While it may be a cool idea to utilize a Pitshark in your program, you can probably count on one hand the number of high school weight rooms that have one. I am lucky to have access to a weight room with 8 power racks that offer tons of functionality. You may not have any racks. Your programming will drastically change depending on equipment access. For example, I may have 8 power racks but we do not have a full set of dumbbells. Dumbbell benching is not very efficient with a group of 20 athletes. The only times we use dumbbells are exercises that only require 1 dumbbell (single arm db bench, goblet squats, etc). Barbell based exercises may not always be the best option, but for me they are because I have limited options.

Next up we have the training age of your athletes to consider. At the high school level you will have kids between the ages of 14 and 18. That is a huge gap in development and for the purposes of age we will be looking at training age. An 18 year more than likely will naturally be stronger than your 14 year old simply because he’s older. However if neither of the kids has lifted a weight before, they would be considered to have the same training age. Early training ages are extremely crucial times to build a foundation in your athletes and honestly one of the easiest ages to train. This time period should be spent developing proper squat, push, pull and hinge movement patterns. Yes they will need to lighten the weight and you’ll need to prescribe some less than cool exercises but in the long run your athletes will be stronger and healthier.

Compared to more advanced athletes, high school aged kids will need to spend more time developing movement patterns and general strength. It may sound fun to hit them with a brutal strength and conditioning program but you run a giant risk of tearing your athletes down. At their age any increase in strength will create positive results on the field. Overload them with proper movement patterns and low skill activities such as sled pushes, pulls and loaded carries. In the next article I will discuss how to create training blocks for your athletes to get the most out of your training programs.

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One comment

  1. […] part 1 we discussed some of the key factors that must be considered before designing high school strength […]


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