Organizational Skills for Strength Coaches

There are many factors that determine the success of an individual training session. The big ones that we all know are the training program itself, the athletes’ ability to perform the prescribed exercises with good technique, and coaches ability to provide extrinsic motivation while the athlete provides a healthy amount of intrinsic motivation. But I think a commonly overlooked determinant of a training sessions success is how organized the session is.

Now, I realize session organization is extremely broad in of itself, but to give y’all a better understanding of what I think about when I think session organization I think about things like, maximizing program design based off of available equipment, maximizing session efficiency based off of facility layout, understanding where a coach should position themselves so that they can have eyes on all athletes at once, and how to organize sessions to get the most out of the time allotted for that session.

The point I want to emphasize more than anything in this article is the little things matter.

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Austin WomackComment
Fix Your Chin Ups

Chin ups are one of the best exercises out there that help relative upper body strength and have been a staple in training programs forever. The problem is chin up technique is typically butchered by most people. There are many ways you can mess up a chin up but in this article I want to talk about the most common one I see: lack of core control.

If you go read blogs are watch videos from the top strength coaches in the industry you will see a ton of content on how to control the core and prevent rib flare during overhead pressing. In fact, many coaches shy away from strict overhead pressing and prescribe half kneeling landmine presses because it’s easier for the athletes to control their core with the landmine variation.

There’s all this attention on core control during overhead pressing but I’ve never seen any of these coaches talk about core control during any overhead pulling exercises. Which is interesting to me. Even though one exercise is pressing and one is pulling the body is still in pretty much the same position, right? So if core control is important during one it should be important during the other, right?

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A Case For Cone Drills

In the last few years I’ve noticed a number of strength and conditioning coaches move away from utilizing cone drills in their training. The arguments from these coaches against cone drills are typically the following: there is a difference in change of direction (COD) training and agility training and cone drills improve COD, not sport-specific agility. COD training doesn’t have a reactionary component (perception-action coupling) and therefore doesn’t transfer to competition success.

I think these arguments have some merit and I can see where these coaches are coming from, however I still see value in COD drills. I’ll explain why in a bit but first I want to outline the most common problems I see with cone drill application.

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Austin WomackComment
Individualized Training Programs are Overrated

If you’ve followed me on social media over the last few years you’ve probably struggled to keep up with where I’ve worked. I’ve lived in multiple states over the last 3 years and have worked in multiple positions, all with their own unique environment. I’ve worked in the private sector at a facility that trains athletes of all sports and also at a facility that specializes in baseball training. I’ve also worked in the team setting at the professional level. This blend of experience has helped me develop a unique lens in which to view programs, training philosophies, and general industry trends. In fact, I would encourage all young coaches to seek out opportunities in different environments within the industry to gain a better feel for the industry as a whole and to be able to discern the positives and negatives of each environment. 

One industry trend that’s blown up in recent years is the push towards individualized training programs. Now, before I go into detail on my opinion on this trend I want to make it clear that I don’t think this is a bad trend by any means. The idea of individualized training programs by itself is just a logical idea that has gained traction because it just plain makes sense. However, I can also see the flaws in how this trend has been executed for the most part. This observation is directed largely at the private sector, but I also want to make it clear that this observation is not directed at any coach or program specifically. I understand the danger in criticizing a program or coach without fully knowing the context of what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, who they’re doing it with, and why they’re doing it, so I want to be very careful with this blog post and make it a point to state that these observations are in the most general sense possible and that there are most definitely programs and coaches that do a fantastic job of implementing intelligent, productive, individualized programs for their athletes.

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