Getting a Great ROI


Return on Investment..

Something all business/ finance experts are looking for…. what am I going to get in return for spending my X amount of $$$?

As coaches/ teachers we do the same thing when calculating how to spend our often times meager budget allocations.

I have written and shared before a couple of motivational ideas (investments) that cost very little but can have a great impact (return) in your program… including this post called The Impact of $4.

If $4 is still too steep of an investment for you, how about 6 cents?

The past two years, twice a year (one time each semester) I have taken a picture of every student in class completing a lift.   I take the picture of the student executing a push press rep… for a number of reasons…

  • It is a lift most of the students like doing
  • In addition to showing the lifter, it also shows the spotters (teamwork)
  • It is impressive looking… the bar above their head with plates on it!

I take two pictures (to insure I get one good one) of each student using my phone…. it actually takes very little time. I pick the better of the two and delete the other. On each photo I add our class name and year at the bottom (Bingham Strength and Conditioning 2016) I organize them all in a folder and send them electronically to Walgreens.

IMG_0362By keeping an eye on Walgreen ads that come in my inbox, I can usually get these 4×6 pictures printed for about 6 cents each… and am able to pick them up the same day!

The day I distribute the pictures is always one of my favorite days of the year. I emphasize that I want them to save their photo, take it home to show their family, show their teachers and friends, and talk about what we are doing in class.

That 6 cents generates a great deal of excitement (ROI)… and when I take, print and distribute the pictures second semester, it allows the students (and their families) to instantly see the progress they have made in class by comparing the two pictures… almost like a “before and after”. Comments like these are common…

  • “I have both pictures in my room”
  • “My mom took my picture to work to show her friends”
  • “My dad didn’t believe I could lift this much”
  • “We still have the pictures from last year on our fridge!”

Is 6 cents still too much of an investment?

How about free?

At the beginning of every class period, I have one student’s workout card projected at the front of the room.   I use their card to explain the day’s workout and talk about the class “challenge” for the day.

IMG_0236I pick a new student and card each day, from each class. I really don’t ever discuss my criteria for selection, but the students come to realize there is an unspoken method to the process… it isn’t random, alphabetical, etc.

Invariably during the course of the year, a student will eventually ask “how do you pick the card that you put up there each day?

I then turn it around and ask them “How do you think I pick it?” … and they always know the answer… it is someone that has been doing things right in class.

It seems like a silly little thing, but the students WANT their card to be the one picked… they want to be recognized… they want to be told “Good Job!” in front of their peers.

It is so easy to do, the investment is zero $, and creates a sizable return each class period.

Every day… every hour… it makes one student feel good… it makes one student proud.

Related Posts:

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

Jeff Floyd –


Getting “Tough”

In a recent post, When Everyone Stops to Watch, I listed a litany of ways that having a Middle School (or High School) Strength and Conditioning class benefits your student-athletes. After re-reading that post, I realized that I omitted possibly the most important benefit – toughness!

Although “toughness” is difficult to measure and quantify, I know that by the end of the year… in the second semester of having the class… the athletes (students) that are in the class are tougher mentally and physically.

I can see their toughness demonstrated in a variety of ways.

Once a month at our school every student enrolled in Physical Education (in Strength and Conditioning as well as the regular PE classes) complete the 20-meter Pacer test. By the second semester, I can see the students that are taking Strength and Conditioning compete better. It is not just a matter of improving physically… I can see them continue to run past the point where it begins to get uncomfortable for them… they realize They Can Do More… they are developing toughness.

Since I have students form all sports enrolled in the class… both boys and girls… not just football players… I make it a point to attend and watch them participate in their respective sports.   This year I was able to attend contests in all of the sports at our school.

Even if I did not know which students were in Strength and Conditioning (the vast majority are) I could tell who is taking the class by how they compete and how tough they are… how confident they are.

Of course I am biased, but the athletes that have been training in Strength and Conditioning class carry themselves differently… they handle adversity differently… they prepare differently.

Gracie Hussey

Now project these physical and mental improvements over the next 4-5 years as they continue in high school.

Toughness is a trait… a character trait… that will help athletes in whatever sport they participate in.

For that matter toughness is an attribute that will serve them well once they complete their days as an athlete… it is a life skill.

I realize that for the most part this is preaching to the choir…

Starting a Strength and Conditioning program in your middle school(s) is the exact right time to do it… if I can help in any way let me know.

Related Posts:

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

Jeff Floyd –

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bo…


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 –

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 –

Medicine Ball Workout

At least once a month, on our training days outside of the weight room, we do a medicine ball workout.

Last week during the #ironchat (a strength and conditioning chat held on twitter Thursday evenings) I mentioned this workout. A few colleagues were asking about what we do (and video) so this is the expanded version… one drawback to the #chat format is depth of detail is at times difficult with 140 character limitation.

We workout in pairs, using one medicine ball per pair.   The athletes choose a ball between 5 and 10 pounds, dependent on their strength level.

I want the athletes to understand that this workout is NOT about doing a lot of weight, or even doing a lot of reps… we do that on other training days. The most “weight” anyone will be lifting (in addition to their body weight) is 10 pounds, and the most reps we do on any one drill are 10 reps.

This workout IS about:

  • Balance
  • Posture
  • Flexibility and
  • Doing all the “Little Things” right

We do 13 different drills in the workout, typically doing 10 reps for each drill. On drills that the athletes do 10 consecutive reps by themselves (not passing the ball between the partners) we ask the athlete not active to “coach” their partners…. letting them know if they are doing it well, and fixing any technique flaws that they see.  It is also another way of checking for understanding with your students.

Here are the 13 drills we do, the order that we complete the drills, and the “little things” …the coaching points… for each drill.

Lunge with a twist – Across basketball court

  • Sink hips
  • Keep shoulders back
  • Keep arms extended and parallel to the ground

Figure 8 – 20 passes

  • Back to back about 3 ft apart
  • Feet “in concrete” stationary – do not even pivot
  • Hand the ball (do not toss) with two hands to partner
  • Ball should make a figure 8 pattern, crossing between partners

Sit ups – 10 each

  • Feet 2-3 feet apart
  • Extend ball above head
  • Sit up with ball and body moving in the same plane
  • Toss ball to partner who extends ball above head, goes down and touches ball to ground, trying to keep ball and body in the same plane

Vertical Chest Pass – 10 each

  • Partner drops ball from about eye level
  • Partner on back extends arms
  • When ball touches hands, collapse arms to chest
  • Immediately “punch” ball as high as you can
  • No pause at top when ball touches hands or at the bottom at chest

Overhead Squat – 10 each

  • Low and Slow
  • Arms extended above head
  • Perfect squat technique – Head up, shoulders back, feet flat
  • Partner not active in the drill will “coach”

Front Squat – 10 each

  • Low and Slow
  • Arms extended an parallel with ground
  • Perfect squat technique – Head up, shoulders back, feet flat
  • Partner not active in the drill will “coach”

Squat Pass – 10 passes each

  • Both partners in perfect squat position through all 10 passes
  • Two handed pass to partner
  • Remain stable and balanced – arms only body part moving

Squat Jump – 10 each

  • Seat ball in chest
  • Lower to full squat position
  • Explode, maximum effort, feet off the floor
  • Reset base after each jump
  • Partner not active in the drill will “coach”

Overhead Pass – 10 each

  • No step or upper body sway
  • Extend ball above head with elbows by ears
  • Dip ball behind head and execute 2 handed pass to partner
  • Try to isolate triceps
  • Remain stable and balanced – forearms only body part moving

Slam Pass – 10 each

  • Step with slam ball into ground about 2/3 way to partner
  • 5 throws stepping with right foot, 5 with left

Squat Put – 10 each

  • Execute perfect full squat
  • From the squat position explode off ground – 2 hand push for height and distance
  • Keep shoulders back – Don’t bend at the waist

Squat Toss (Front) – 10 each

  •      Extend ball in front
  •      Arms parallel to ground
  •      From the squat position explode off ground – tossing ball for height and distance
  •      Keep shoulders back – Don’t bend at waist
  •      Throw the ball with your legs

Squat Toss (Back) – 10 each

  •        Back to partner
  •        Extend ball in front
  •        Arms parallel to ground
  •        On command – from the squat position explode off ground – tossing ball for height and distance
  •        Keep shoulders back – Don’t bend at waist
  •        Throw the ball with your legs

I would encourage you to check out the Twitter #ironchat on Thursday nights.  An explanation of how the Twitter chats (#chats) works can be found in this post… #TXHSFBCHAT… The Fastest 60 Minutes on the Internet

Related Posts:

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

Jeff Floyd –

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 –

Learning How to Compete

With the 2014 season under our belts, everyone is now headed into, or already deep into their off-season programs.

One of the best things that we ever did as part of our off-season program was to incorporate weekly, team competitions in our workouts. This was not an original idea of mine, but we did add some unique elements to the concept.

The first thing we did each year was to divide our returning squad members (anyone who was planning on being part of our upcoming season) into 11 teams. We selected the teams by appointing 11 seniors as captains and holding a draft, with each captain selecting their squad. The draft was only open to these 11 seniors, so no one else knew the discussions about, or order in which squad members were picked.   This draft became a much-anticipated event, with the seniors putting a lot of thought into their selections.

After the teams were picked and posted, we revealed (sort of) the competitions for each week. I say “sort of” because we did not let them know exactly what they would be doing, the rules, or criteria for winning until that weeks contest. For instance, the name for one of our contest was “War Games”… which was a tug of war tournament between all of the teams… but up until that week there was all kinds of speculation as to what the competition might be!


tugWe incorporated many aspects of “team” and character into our weekly competitions… trying to get our players to compete in many areas that would make them a better student-athlete… they were not limited to just strength and conditioning. Here are some things we had the teams compete for:

  • Best attendance for the week (school)
  • Best attendance for the week (weight room)
  • Tug of war
  • Last Man Standing (holding a 25 lb plate at arms length)
  • Most Breaks (increasing their estimated 1RM) in a week
  • Best attendance at a girl’s basketball game
  • 2 Men Enter (try to pull the flag in the sock of the opponent in a 5 yd x 5 yd square)
  • Highest Average Pound for Pound Ratio
  • Highest Average Power Quotient
  • Most team members that finished the squad reading assignment (That First Season, by John Eisenberg)
  • Obstacle Course (included carrying a 45 pound plate, flipping tractor tire, driving sled, and sprinting)
  • Highest average GPA for that quarter

Each week the team would get points for their finishing rank (1st=1 point, 2nd=2 points, etc) and at the end of our winter/ spring strength and conditioning sessions, the team with the fewest points was crowned the winner. Each member of the winning team received one helmet reward decal prior to the first game of the following season.

The contests were always fun and spirited, and each week we saw new leaders emerge… and they were not always the “official” captains. Players would encourage, hold each other accountable, and be held accountable for these wide array of items.   It was always interesting, too, to see how the captains picked their respective teams each year… knowing the strengths that were needed to succeed in this competition.

This concept had positive effects on a number of levels. There is definitely a team building/ bonding aspect to it. Our athletes got used to holding teammates accountable, and being held accountable. It helped develop and expose leaders and teach leadership. These competitions also helped our student-athletes learn how to compete, and emphasized a number of character related qualities with them.

As an added bonus, our administration loved it because we were measuring and talking about things like attendance, academics, and reading with our athletes.

As I mentioned, this was not an original idea (like most good things that we did) but was one that we added to each year to help make our off-season program a little more competitive and fun.

Related Posts:

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

Jeff Floyd –

Spotlight Update – Alexis Hart

One of the very first athletes I ever put “in the spotlight” on this blog was Alexis Hart, a three sport athlete from Truman High School, in Independence, Missouri.

This was the post from her Freshman year, which included her workout card and some video.

In the Spotlight – Alexis Hart

And this was an update after she set the school records in the Triple Jump her sophomore season.  She ended up winning the State Long Jump that year.

Spotlight Update – Alexis Hart

Lexi is now a Junior and just completed her volleyball season.  Just today she was awarded the Evelyn Gates award given to the outstanding volleyball player in the Kansas City Metro area.

There is no more well deserving athlete.  She is an excellent role model for young women athletes everywhere.  I use Lexi as an example in my strength and conditioning classes as to how ALL athletes should train… both women and men.



Congratulations Lexi… and thanks for again proving that Hard Work Pays Off!

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

Jeff Floyd –


Good coaches are good teachers.

I cannot tell you how many times I have been listening to someone in education discuss the next “new/ big thing” and think to myself “We (coaches) have been doing that for years

Differentiated Instruction is the new hot topic…. It is a philosophy for effective teaching that involves providing different students with different avenues to learning, often in the same classroom. Differentiation means tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. You probably have read about it, or even had a professional development session on the topic.

Differentiated Instruction is often characterized by:

  • Flexible grouping
  • Continual assessment
  • Allowing for different learning styles
  • Understanding and allowing for different readiness levels
  • Independent work or projects
  • Learning Contracts

The more I hear and read about this “new” concept, the more I think that this sounds like my (or a typical) Strength and Conditioning class or practice field.

IMG_4267 2

In the weight room:

I am sure we can all think of the same type of high quality teaching and learning, using Differentiated Instruction techniques, that takes place daily on your practice field.

Good coaches are good teachers.

Always have been… always will be.

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

Jeff Floyd –

Your Toolbox

My father was many things (US Marine, WWII vet of the Pacific Campaign) but a skilled carpenter, handyman, craftsmen he was NOT. Although he never scrimped on material, his attempts at various projects were usually laughable, amateurish, and cobbled together…. not masterpieces in any sense of the word.

My dad literally had one small toolbox that contained:


  • 1 phillips head screwdriver, 1 flat head
  • 1 pair of pliers
  • 1 pair of vice grips (his “go-to” tool)
  • 1 regular (small) hammer, 1 ball peen hammer
  • 1 hand saw for wood, 1 hack saw for metal

And little else.

So while he often courageously attempted ambitious projects, with little or no instructions, and only a meager set of tools at his disposal, the results usually came up far short of his expectations.

When I told a lifelong friend (who knew my father and witnessed his “handiwork”) that I had just finished installing built in cabinets and closets in our bedroom, adding a sliding factory door, and laying hardwood floor in our loft, he looked at me and asked “since when did you become so handy?”

Here is the difference between my father and me… I am not smarter, nor do I use better materials. The main difference is that I have more tools in my toolbox, and availability to better instructions.

I have two large cases full of tools… sets of wrenches, power tools, tools for measuring, cutting, fastening, etc. I also have access to great instructions for any project I tackle via the Internet.

As coaches we all have similar “material” (our squad) but some of us have more tools at our disposal. A craftsman has to have the correct tools to create a masterpiece.

What tools do you have in your coaching “toolbox”?  Here are some that have helped me be a more efficient and effective coach:

All told, the links listed above have been downloaded over 10,000 times by coaches all over the world. I am not suggesting these are all or the best tools out there… but plenty of tools ARE out there… and fairly easy to find.

Create a masterpiece!

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

Jeff Floyd –