The Laws of Strength and Conditioning: An Athletes Agreement
By Matthew Johnson, M.S, CSCS
Director of Strength and Conditioning George Washington University
At George Washington University we value the coach-athlete relationship. In order to reach peak performance both parties are responsible. As strength coaches, our job is to motivate, educate, plan and provide structure to our athletes performance enhancement.
Below is a list of standards (in order of importance) that our athletes must understand, agree and adhere to during training.
1. Coachable: Athletes must accept coaching at all times. As strength coaches, it is our job to identify technique flaws, low effort or bad attitudes. Athletes should never wear "earmuffs". They must listen and absorb what we are communicating.
2. Effort: Plain and simple, maximum effort maximizes results. When training a team their effort level shouldn’t waver. It’s not an easy thing to do but it is tremendously important for the long-term development of your athletes.
3. Championship Culture: The weight room is were high amplitude energy and positive attitudes reside. Athletes that radiate negativity or low energy put a damper on things. Fill the weight room with an elite culture: smiles, cheers, clapping, and words of encouragement all build this. “Champions behave like Champions before they’re Champions. They have a winning standard of performance before they are winners.” - Bill Walsh
4. Nutrition: Athletes must understand that they can’t out train bad nutrition. If your athletes want to go 0 to 60 in record time they better feed the machine with high quality fuel. They must train themselves at the table before training in the weigh room. If not, they are spinning their wheels. They are applying effort to the gas pedal but their poor nutrition is the e-brake holding them back.
5. Sleep: In order to train hard you must recover harder. Sleep is one of the oldest and most effective recovery modes around. Best part is it's FREE! Make sure you are getting your zzzz’s so you can gain those lift lbs.
6. Technique: “Quality not Quantity” should ring through the ears of every athlete. No matter the lift, it needs to be executed with precision. Poor technique can delay strength development. More importantly, athletes can get injured! Take pride in your reps, they are your billboard as a coach.
7. Supplemental Training: We should never turn away an athlete wanting to complete extra work. Why? Who do you know that failed a test or class doing extra credit? Working hard and smart is a proven recipe for success. But performing extra work may be counterproductive if it is not aligned with your training focus. For example: A max strength phase has been installed. On active recovery days your athlete runs 5 miles. The physiological impact of aerobic training erases the max strength work. Athletes wanting to complete extra work should seek the advice of their strength coach. We are the experts; they must use us.
8. Training Frequency: “We are what we repeatably do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Improvement is a byproduct of many sets, reps and sessions. Athletes must train consistently and follow the plan we have outlined. Make sure your athletes complete "make ups" if a conflict arises that prevents them from attending scheduled sessions. Lapses in training only slow momentum.
9. Trust: Athletes must trust the training program. Any skepticism will skew the outcome. Coaches must educate their athletes so they believe in the process. As coaches, we can get them where they need to be. The athlete must trust our direction. Explaining WHY is the best way to establish trust.
10. Have Fun: In my experience, athletes that have a blast in the weight room always improve. Athletes should be excited and find enjoyment in their development. If they aren't, look in the mirror. Attitude and energy reflect leadership. The weight room should be an energy bunker. They should enjoy entering it with the mindset of preparing to win a championship. Encourage them to put on a smile and go to work!
Train Hard. Fuel Smart. Work Your Plan! Together we can, Together we will!