What Your Athletes Really Want From You

The week leading up to my retirement in May, a couple of teachers did a really nice thing. They encouraged students that were in my Strength and Conditioning class to write “thank you” letters and cards to me.

FullSizeRender 3I received about 80 of these notes!

What these 7th and 8th graders  wrote was sweet, thoughtful, and revealing. I think that because they knew I was leaving, they felt comfortable really opening up…. and they did.

Here are some excerpts from a few of their letters….

“You have motivated and inspired us to be physically and mentally strong. We will use this strength for the rest of our lives.”

“From you, I learned about confidence and never giving up… and I thank you so much for that”

“Thank you for everything you have taught me this year… mentally, four words, “you can do more” mean so much and apply to all things”

“You made me stronger and taught me how to compete and never give up”

“Thank you for teaching me how to be a better athlete and compete. I will carry these skills throughout high school and life.”

“You motivated me and made me believe I can do anything and not to give up. I feel like I can do more because of you and I appreciate that.”

“You taught me how to push myself and try my best all of the time.”

“I want to thank you for pushing me to do my vest, believing in me, and for never letting me give up”

“I have improved in so many ways, both mentally and physically, and I know it will help me the rest of my life.”

“This class made me both mentally and physically stronger and made me more competitive”

“Thank you for always pushing me to work hard. I will carry everything you taught me throughout my life.”

“This class also helped build up my self confidence and helped my focus”

“Thank you for helping me push through and do things I thought were nearly impossible. I will always remember you and use your advice for the rest of my life!”

“I have learned more about myself this year in weightlifting than I could have imagined. Without this class I wouldn’t be the person or athlete I am today.”

“Because of the strength and conditioning class I accomplished that goal, and now maybe I could accomplish the other goals on my Goal Card like go to BYU!”

“I just want you to know that you have changed my point of view in about everything! You have showed me that no matter the challenge, I could accomplish it as long as I do my best. I want you to know that you have affected my life greatly and I wont ever forget you.”

“Thank you for always pushing me in the weight room, sports, academics, etc. You have had a big impact on my life.”

“You helped me become a better athlete and person by pushing me and never letting me quit even if I wanted to.”

You can probably see for yourself that there are some common threads running through the notes from these thoughtful young adults. Here are some of my takeaways:

  • They want to be pushed… they want to work hard
  • They want someone to believe in them
  • They know they are learning life skills 

I shared these heartfelt comments not to pat myself on the back, but so you will realize THIS

You have kids in your program that feel the same way about you… but since you aren’t retiring, you aren’t afforded the luxury (and enjoyment) of reading 80 thank you cards.

Those kids are out there… they are counting on you… they are looking up to you… they want you to inspire and push them… they want you to believe in them.

They need you… and you make a difference in their lives.

Yours is an awesome job with awesome responsibilities.

Related Posts:

Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It! 

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

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We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bo…

x…

We need a bigger Box… as in Plyo Box.

You thought I was going to say Boat… we need that too… more on the Bigger Boat later.

Here is a film showing two of our Strength and Conditioning classes… one 7th grade and one 8th grade (we have a total of 5 sections of 8th graders and 3 sections of 7th graders) doing a box jump routine.

We have done this routine 4-5 times this year. The first time we did it, we maybe had 1-2 athletes in each class that could make it up on the “Big Box”.

This time, the final time this year, we had more that could make it up on the box than couldn’t in each class… probably 40-50 total that could do it!

We see the same results in improved Vertical Leap, 40 yard dash and Pro Agility times… not to mention strength levels in our four core lifts of Bench, Squat, Push Press and Hang Clean.

Attribute it to increased strength, or improved confidence, familiarity with the drill, or class cohesion/ competition, maturation…. whatever your belief, the results speak for themselves.

And that is the thing that I have learned teaching Strength and Conditioning at our (Bingham) Middle School…

Whatever you believe and know to be true regarding the advantages of a good Strength and Conditioning program at the high school (or collegiate) level, the same benefits are realized in this age group.

Improvements in…

  • Team Cohesion
  • Strength
  • Confidence
  • Explosion
  • Speed
  • Quickness
  • Training Habits
  • Competing
  • Overcoming adversity

And about that bigger boat…

Just as last year, (We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat) the number of students requesting this class is up… approaching 400 students listing Strength and Conditioning as their first PE choice, with only 200 slots available.

Nearly 400 students requesting Strength and Conditioning with the knowledge that it is a tough, strenuous class… with the knowledge that they will be required to (or rather”get to”) train 3-4 days a week.

It is even more evidence that this age group is the exact right time to begin a strength and conditioning program.

Related Posts:

Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Low Tech… Highly Effective

Recently, during a Thursday evening Twitter #ironchat session, the first question out of the gate was:

Q1) What’s your favorite Olympic lift for triple extension? What’s the common fault you see in it & the cue you use to correct? #ironchat

Coach David Taylor’s (@coachrdt) response was:

A1) Hang clean is our top triple extension exercise, and the biggest issue we see is landing with our feet too wide ‪#ironchat

This was a sentiment echoed by many participating in the chat… clean was the favorite Olympic lift for triple extension, with incorrect foot placement (too wide) on the landing or catch phase of the lift a common problem.

Coach Taylor then finished his response with his idea for a “fix”

A1) cont… Crazy idea, make your athletes clean inside a small hoop, forcing them to concentrate on landing with feet in athletic stance within the hoop #ironchat

I take video pretty much daily in my Strength and Conditioning classes… and recently have recorded hours of our athletes doing explosive lifts… clean, push press, and snatch. The video has a number of uses for me… sharing with other coaches, posting on twitter or my blog, archiving for future reference, but mainly for checking my teaching.

It is very easy to see what the athletes are doing well, and equally easy to see what they need to work on. If there are any common threads regarding technique flaws with a number of my athletes, then typically that is something that I have not done a very good job of teaching, coaching or explaining.

In looking at recent video, two things were apparent to me:

  • Our athletes… pretty much across the board…. are doing a very good job during the explosive (triple extension) phase of their lifts, and…
  • Many of our athletes are exhibiting the same flaw as was mentioned in the #ironchat by Coach Taylor (and echoed by many others)… their feet were “flying out” during the catch phase of their lifts (clean, push press, and snatch)

Last Friday I dedicated the class in an attempt to correct this technique error… and the method I incorporated into the class was the “Hula Hoop” indicator.

OK, granted, it was a pretty “low tech” attempt at correcting this flaw…. low tech but highly effective.

I gathered up 6 Hula Hoops that had the diameter that I was looking for, and as a bonus they all were constructed with fairly thin tubing. I put each hoop inside the rack and had the athletes begin their clean with their feet situated in the hoop on what would be the diameter.

The athletes did 3 sets of 8 reps using the weight from their workout card on the first set of their light day workout… which is about 62% of their 1RM.   This weight was light enough where they could concentrate on foot placement, and heavy enough where they still needed to use good technique during the explosive phase of the lift.   Here is what I found out:

  • There was immediate tactile feedback whenever the lifters feet varied much from the norm… including width, stagger, or movement forward or backwards
  • The lifter did not need to look down (which would effect their technique) to benefit from the hoop
  • The feedback was not so much as to disrupt the rep or endanger the lifter, but enough for the athlete to know foot placement was incorrect.
  • As they progressed through their 3 sets of 8 reps, nearly everyone who was experiencing “foot flyout” saw their technique improve

As you can see in this video (which was not uncommon) this athlete’s feet struck the hoop on their first rep, and their base narrowed incrementally after each reap.

Here is another, similar video.

These are a fairly typical sampling of the video that I recorded that day.

Here is a bit longer movie showing several athletes doing their “hula hoop cleans“, followed by video without the hoop, shot the following Monday on their “heavy” hang clean day, (sets of 8 reps with 75-80% of their 1RM).

Although their foot placement is not perfect, it is considerably better than previous to using the “hula hoop technique” to emphasize foot placement.

Thanks again to Coach Gardner (@CODY_GARDNER ) the host of #ironchat, (Thursday nights at 8:00-9:00 pm CST) and Coach Taylor (@coachrdt ) for this training idea.

Related Posts:

Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It! 

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

You Can Do This

My last post was about “doing your best”…

And how, even when you have done your best, “there might be just a little more to give”…

And how that relates to my tag line… You Can Do More.

A little bit about that tag line…

There is a BIG difference between “You Can Do More!” and “you could have done more!

One is an entreat, a plea to ignore what your brain and body are telling you and push on and persevere.

The other is an admonishment for not doing your best and results in guilt and diminished performance.

The mantra “You Can Do More” really is a double edge sword that needs to be wielded carefully.  I do believe an important part of our job as coaches is to get our athletes to do more than what they believe (or their brain is telling them) they can.

I also believe that is an equally important job to acknowledge, praise, and rejoice when our athletes are successful, have given great effort, and have done all that we asked.  They sometimes need to hear your loud positivevoice” in their head to drown out their own (and other) negative “voices” that are often so pervasive.

hard thingsWith young athletes, it is equally important that they first learn that “You Can Do This”… “this” being whatever tasks are before them… hard and challenging tasks… physically… mentally… or both… Initially, when first learning how to compete you don’t have to implore your athletes to “do more”…. just meeting the challenge you have given them is the first step… even if it is just a baby step…

“You Can Do This”

“You Got This”

“You Can Beat This”

Once they get used to being able to meet these challenges head on, and begin to have the confidence that “You Can Do THIS”…. once they get used to COMPETING… once they trust what you are telling them, then it is a simple progression to You Can Do More!

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you… Don’t Believe It!

Related Posts:

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Testing… Strength and Conditioning – Standardized Tests

Recently I was having a conversation with a colleague. His question was… “[in your strength and conditioning program] what do you test on, and how often do you do it?”

At this time of the year, after just finishing MAP tests in our school and district, it got me to thinking about testing in general.

In answer to his initial questions, we test on our four Core Lifts (Bench, Squat, Hang Clean, and Push Press) for anyone that is new to the program. We test on a multi-rep max, and use this conversion chart so we can enter it on their workout card, which calculates their workout percentages while they are in our program.

We also give a battery of tests that we feel provides us with some good information regarding their athletic progress:

  • Weight
  • 40-yard dash
  • Vertical Leap
  • Pro Agility

And their card calculates:

After this initial testing, we do not test on their Core Lifts again … ever… and here is why.

Testing takes time away from what I really want them to do…. train to be better athletes! I am really not overly concerned about what their “maxes” are, other than how that relates to their athletic improvement. Their workout card provides them with information so they can gauge their progress (see Breaking… it’s a good thing) and know what their new “maxes” are…. without retesting.

I am not training members of a powerlifting team, but members of the football, basketball, and volleyball, etc. teams. I want their training to transfer to the court(s) or field(s) of their choice. If it does, then both the athlete and I are happy… if it doesn’t, no matter how strong or how well they tested, then I have failed as a strength coach.

And this is how it relates to testing in the classroom… to MAP or STAAR (insert your state/ district standardized test name here) testing.

I am amazed annually about the amount of time, (instruction time, professional development time), energy (student, teacher, administrator), and angst that is put into the preparation and administration of these tests.

Our teachers administer all kinds of predictive tests in prepping for the MAP test… STAR test, Acuity test, and many also give an EOC exam in their classes. This year they also had to spend time practicing the MAP test because of the new, tech based test.   They (teachers and administrators) spend an amazing amount of time dealing with all of this… prepping for all of this… and worrying about all of this… for a test score.

And that is my point… and how it relates to strength and conditioning…

I have to belitestinglearningeve that in the long run our students (and teachers and administrators) would be much better off if they could spend ALL of the time they now spend in test prep on actual instruction…. Imaginative, Innovative, IndividualizedInstruction.

Instruction that is geared toward learning… learning skills that will transfer and allow them to excel in the “real world” rather than excelling on a standardized test.

Are we interested in creating a legion of good “test takers”… or do we want to send out into the world students that are inquisitive, lifetime learners, problem solvers, and adaptable?

In my strength and conditioning class I am not interested in training members for an Olympic Powerlifting squad, but I want them to be better athletes in their respective sports.

In the classroom I think we should be more concerned about training better, well prepared citizens rather than great test takers.

Just my opinion.

BTW… we do test on the 40, vertical, shuttle, etc. annually… but even then try to be efficient in our administration and condense it down into the shortest amount of time possible as not to lose training time.

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It! 

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Middle School Strength and Conditioning Posts

In the past few days, I have received several requests for information regarding our middle school strength and conditioning program… including its implementation, structure and curriculum.

BinghamStrengthI decided to amalgamate all of the posts into this single, hopefully easier to navigate, post. I have tried to put them in (somewhat) chronological order.

These links will also direct you to the “nuts and bolts” of our program, including philosophy, the workout card, lifting technique, videos, etc.

Here is a link to a Flipboard Magazine I put together with all of the posts :

Flipboard – Middle School Strength and Conditioning

If you have any questions, just shoot me an email… I will respond!

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

A year ago I wrote a post (If you build it, they will come) about a decision our school district (the Independence School District) made to add a strength and conditioning physical education class at the middle school level.

At the time there was much buzz, excitement, and some trepidation among the students, faculty and administration.

As I wrote about in this, more recent post, (The Case for Middle School Strength and Conditioning) the first year of the Strength and Conditioning class has been a huge success in our building.

Now, with enrollment beginning for next year, the real test is upon us. Has the class generated enough “buzz” with the current students to sustain or increase interest and enrollment for next year?

The numbers are in…

The good news

We had nearly 400 students (7th and 8th graders next year) request this class for the 2015-16 school year.

Every current 7th grader who is taking the class (56) requested it again for next year!

The challenge

Our current class structure limited the enrollment to 150 students in the class… six classes with 25 students each.

With a couple of adjustments, we were able to increase that number to 200.

I currently teach all of the Strength and Conditioning class at our school, and have six sections. We have a seven period day, and I have a plan period, so our number this year was capped at 150 students.

Next year our building is going to an eight period day (we are getting rid of our “home room” period), which will allow me to teach seven classes of Strength and Conditioning. In addition, another instructor will be teaching the class during my plan period, which will put our cap next year at 200 students (eight periods x 25 students per class).

We still have a somewhat daunting task ahead… trimming nearly half of the students who put the Strength and Conditioning class as their #1 request for Physical Education.

We feel like it is a good problem to have, and one that demonstrates our district is headed in the right direction with this class offering.

IMG_6962If your district is not offering this class, my experience this year leads me to believe you are missing the boat… this age group is physically and mentally ready to excel in a class of this type.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you have regarding this class (setup, curriculum, equipment, lessons, etc) or related to any other posts on this blog… I will respond!

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Recruiting Links

This post is specifically for my enrichment class regarding the recruiting process.

As I mentioned in class today, these are the two links that will give you access to all the information we discussed regarding the path to being a recruited student-athlete.

college recruiting ebookFlipboard Magazine- Wanted and Rewarded eBook

Flipboard Magazine – Recruiting Level of Interest Pyramid

If you have any questions, stop by and see me at school.

In addition to these written posts, I have recently launched my YouTube Channel that deals specifically with the recruiting process.  The channel can be found here : The YouCanDoMore YouTube Channel, and the complete playlist can be viewed here.

 

Please share with your parents as well.

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

The Impact of $4

This semester I started a weekly award … the “Bingham Strength and Conditioning Athlete of the Week”. Each week I pick one boy and one girl athlete (students in my class) based on a different set of criteria (some subjective, some objective) such as “best technique”, “highest pound for pound ratio”, “highest power quotient”, or “best teammate”.

For each winner, I blow up a picture of them lifting and put it in a poster frame attached to each door entering the weight room.   I also tweet a picture of each athlete standing by his or her poster. At the end of the week I give the posters to the athletes to keep.IMG_6755

It has become a very popular addition to the class. There is always a buzz on the day the new “Athlete of the Week” poster is unveiled…

  • “who got it this week?”
  • “can you let me in the weight room to see?”
  • “what was it based on?”
  • “what will the criteria be for this next week?”

You would think that I was awarding the Heisman Trophy. You can see the pride on their faces, and admiration from their classmates. The best part is when I am able to give them their poster at the end of the week to take home.

I get the posters printed at Staples. I actually got the idea from my wife who saw it on Pinterest and passed it on to me. They are called “engineer prints” and are 3’ x 2’ black and white prints that cost less than $4.

The process is simple… take a high quality jpeg, convert it to a PDF and upload it to their site… or just take the file on a thumb drive and have them print it while you wait.

But this post isn’t a plug for Staples, or about “engineer prints”.

It is about the impact that $4 can make in your program.

We don’t all have unlimited budgets… many of us are really trying to do more with less… actually on more of a “shoestring” budget than the unlimited variety.

There are many things that can be done… many great ideas out there… that don’t cost a dime (or under $4) than can have a huge impact with your students and with your program.

The thing about the Athlete of the Week posters isn’t how much or how little they cost… it is about stopping everything and making a statement and recognizing someone for doing something right… doing something well.

And the recognition isn’t just a one-time shot…

  • They get recognition when their poster gets “unveiled”,
  • They get recognition when I tweet the picture of them and their poster,
  • They get recognition each day when their classmates see their poster as they enter and leave the weight room
  • They get recognition when I “award” them their poster at the end of the week to take home.

It is just another way of saying “Good Job!” to a student and at the same time reinforcing a component or concept that you feel is important.

Every week I think to myself, “this is the best $4 I have ever spent! 

Related Posts:

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

It is Never Easy

The other day I invited classroom teachers from my school (Bingham Middle School, Independence School District) to come down and visit my students as they worked out.

Actually, I had the students invite their teachers to come down to the weight room… sometimes a scary place for a classroom teacher… lots of noise, metal clanging, occasional shouts, etc… I told my students it was…

National Invite Your Classroom Teachers to the Weight Room to See How Hard You Work on Heavy Squat Day in Strength and Conditioning Class”, day.

OK, I made the day up, but…. we did get a few teachers to venture down to the weight room.

My purpose… I wanted their classroom teachers to see how hard these students work … daily… in this class… and I wanted them (their teachers) to see their students in a different light, and a different setting than they were used to seeing them.

One colleague who came down watched in amazement as the students worked out… and did the little things that they do daily… and do pretty much on their own.

  • Reading their workout cards
  • Calculating the weight needed to be put on the bar
  • Disciplined behavior
  • Putting the weight on the bar
  • Adjusting the rack
  • Spotting
  • Encouraging
  • Laughing
  • Working
  • Transitioning from one lift to the next
  • On task
  • Coaching one another
  • Seriously training!

These are 8th graders.

He asked “How long did it take to get them to this point?

IMG_6514It is an excellent question. At this point in the year, into the 4th quarter… the class is very low maintenance…. I am sure it appears that it is an easy class to teach… and at this point of the year, it is!   I spend very little of my day, and very little of my time each hour babysitting, redirecting, disciplining, or managing behavior. I get to spend the majority of my time teaching, coaching, and motivating.

But as you know, it does not happen all at once, or by magic. The heavy lifting (pun intended) of the class is front-loaded. I spend a great deal of time in the first 6-8 weeks on every small detail including…

After that first couple of months, it just becomes reinforcing the good stuff… fine-tuning a few things each day by constant assessment of where they are with their technique, knowledge and strength level.

At this point of the year, the class is a well-oiled machine.

It is just like the football program that makes reeling off winning seasons, conference championships, and playoff appearances look easy.

It is not easy… it is not ever easy… It is a result of hours, months and years of hard work… concentrating on every bit of minutia… every detail in the program.

Being a good teacher is hard work… being a good coach is hard work

But it is so very worth it.

If you have not had the chance, I hope can read my post from last week, The Case for Middle School Strength and Conditioning. If your District offers this class, kudos… if not, this may persuade you to hop on a soapbox. 

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com