NICK SHOWMAN – TAD SPORTS PERFORMANCE COACH – NATURAL OHIO BODYBUILDING ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT
Strength Programs – The Unwritten Benefits
As strength programs have evolved over the past few decades, they have become a pervasive part of the athletic department. Athletes are becoming stronger, quicker, and have better endurance. Athletes who do not participate in strength & conditioning program as part of their training simply do not match up to those who do. What many fail to see are the benefits that individuals and teams gain outside of strength and speed. These changes in the athletes might happen in the first month for some, but for others it could take a few years to fully reap the benefits of the weight room.
Leadership- Strength and conditioning programs can transform athletes who do not stand out on the field into team leaders. Teammates and coaches alike will take notice of the athlete who shows up early and leads their team through the workout. If you do not have sufficient support staff, give the athletes additional responsibilities before, during, and after S&C sessions. By setting up and breaking down equipment, the athletes develop a sense of responsibility and pride within the S&C program. It is THEIR program too. Those who have stand-out coaching abilities can be recruited to assist with teammates’ technique, and can provide motivation when it is lacking. The loyalty and responsibility that develops during lifting sessions will be evident on game day.
Self Confidence- Both male and female athletes can gain confidence as they see the physical changes that a strength program can bring. One of the added benefits of strength training is that it will improve body composition and help athletes improve in their sport. With the improved body composition and strength, an athlete will begin to mentally feel ahead of their competition. As time continues, the increased physical changes will have carryover to the game field. The athlete will now move on the field with more confidence and more strength, which when paired together is a hard to beat combination.
Competition- This is very simple; athletes want and need to compete, and also need to get comfortable in a competitive environment. Athletes who compete with themselves and others in the weight room will strive for better numbers each and every time. Be sure that athletes are lifting in small groups with people that will challenge them to improve technique, numbers, and work ethic. Foster friendly competition in different forms whether it is using strongman implements, body weight exercises, or sprint times and coaches will see improvements everywhere. If the team can raise expectations of work ethic, they will learn to outwork their competition. Establish a sense of pride among athletes in the way the work in the weight room and they will be ready to compete and conquer when the competition comes.
Unity- A team that has trained together all year and has been challenged in the weight room will develop a special bond. Strength training is hard work and can be mentally taxing for most athletes because their passion doesn’t lie in the weight room. Once the work ethic has been established and the expectations are set, unity has to exist to get the work done in a timely manner with the quality of work being high. No team can function without unity and it is something that must be established well before the first play of the year. Without unity, members of the team may put themselves and their goals ahead of the goals of the team.
The above named benefits that an S&C program brings to athletes will become evident both on and off the field. These are all components that can create team rapport and to instill a sense of pride and accomplishment in an athlete before they set foot on the field, putting them at an advantage before the game starts. It starts when the coach creates an environment based on trust and hard work. And there has to be an element of fun. Your athletes play sports because they enjoy them. This should extend to the weight room in the same way that leadership, self-confidence, and unity extend to the court or field.
Total Athletic Development Sports Performance Coach
Natural Ohio Bodybuilding Association President