Just as BPT is striving to provide the best level of sports performance for each training session for individuals, we also aim to excel in providing superior team training. We train the Fresno Monsters, junior hockey team, among other youth and high school baseball, soccer, and volleyball teams. There is a detailed, behind-the-scenes process our coaches work through to provide our athletes the opportunity of a successful season. This process is broken down into four phases: assess, plan, implement, and adjust. Each of these builds upon each other and is not possible without the previous.
The assessment phase includes everything from testing one repetition maxes, obtaining body composition measurements, and analyzing the sport and specific positions. Before the start of any season, each athlete should complete a movement screening. This, seemingly time-consuming process, is the basis for the next year of training. When creating a mental and physical timeline for your team, it is necessary to understand the point at which you are starting. This movement screening also leads to time management and distribution of the program (spending time on mobility vs. strength) as well as exercise selection.
However, the assessment process goes deeper than individual and sport-specific needs. A strength and conditioning coach must also assess and analyze their resources as well as additional considerations. These include the strength and conditioning staff, sports coaches, equipment, and time constraints. How many coaches will you have to assist and manage? What kind of equipment do you have access to? How many different sports will be in the weight room at once? What season is your team in? All of these questions are musts when considering the next step of planning for team training.
The planning phase of the process is often the most detail-oriented phase required for successful and smooth training sessions. There must be considered placed on “teach time” vs “work time” to know exactly how long the athletes will have to complete the desired set and rep scheme. When working with a large team, an organized system for flow and efficiency is imperative for success. Industry leader Ron McKeefery lives by the quote “structure is freedom” when planning and executing the desired program with his football team. This means that with effective organization and effective structure, it relieves the chance of chaos and therefore allows the coaching staff to focus on ensuring safety, correcting technique, and implementing the program as desired.
Periodization and programming including exercise selection, volume, and intensity are also included in this planning phase. The season of the sport will heavily impact the choice of training goals, stimulus, and execution. Positions within the sport and team will also lead to specific programming choices. On a football team, a wide receiver will need much more unilateral speed and power as opposed to an offensive lineman. Similarly, on a track and field team some athletes, such as the throwers, will train power in the season while the long-distance runner's main priority would be muscular and cardiovascular endurance. Knowing what the goal in the future allows for a coach to create a plan of what needs to be done each week and day to reach this goal.
Next, the implementation phase is where it starts to come together. Consistency and organization are key when effectively implementing a team in the weight room or on the field. All coaches involved must understand the flow, exercises, and instruction required. Coaches have about 20 seconds of focus to explain a station or exercise. In the previous phases, a coach will have designed a program with a method in which they intend the athletes to execute the program. Some will give out cards and pens to each individual, some project the workout on a big screen, some may give coaches a group to be responsible for running through the lift, and some may run a station while athletes rotate through each of them. Frequently, coaches use a strength and conditioning software app where the athletes can carry a tablet or phone around to have a visual of the day, along with the added responsibility of recording their own progress. Each of these is a viable option, the importance lies in the recording of weight and reps of each athlete to ensure the principles of overload and progression each session, week, and month.
Finally, the last phase of this process would be an adjustment. There is bound to be a challenge or mistake along the way. Whether that be an unknown injury, time constraints, or a pandemic, a coach must be able to adjust the organization or exercise selection quickly and efficiently. It is important to understand that athletes are people too, and an adjustment may be just as much necessary for mental and emotional health as it is for physical performance.
When programming for a postseason championship-ready team there is a process that goes far beyond what is seen on the surface. Not only must a coach be able to proficiently program, periodize, and select exercises, they must be able to assess, manage, and adjust daily. At BPT our strength coaching staff has been implementing and refining our team programming skills through this structure to provide increased opportunities for success with all of our athletes.
Content by @scuhlir