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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Getting a Great ROI

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 – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

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 – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

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

When Everyone Stops to Watch

We have all seen it…

No buildup or promo is needed…

It is not a matter of mass marketing or launching a social media campaign…

It is genuinehonestorganic

Everyone in the room knows that they are witnessing something special

There is a mutual respectadmiration… for what is being attempted…

Everyone stops what they are doing and watches…

Anxiously…. nervously… hopefully…

Wanting to witness a successful attempt.

This happened yesterday in one of my Strength and Conditioning classes.

Airianna Miller, an 8th grader in her second year in this class, was attempting a new PR for her 8-rep max on push press.

Airianna plays basketball, volleyball, and is a competitive cheerleader.

This is what happened at the end of class yesterday.

 

None of this was staged or pre-arranged.

The class knew what she was attempting… and as you can see in the video… more and more people stopped to watch as she successfully completed each rep.

By the time she had finished everyone had stopped to watch.

At the end there was great excitement. You can only see the beginning before the film cuts off, but the whole class stopped to give Arianna an ovation.

Including me.

  • Who says 8th graders are silly and immature?
  • Who says 8th graders are mean spirited?
  • Who says 8th graders are irresponsible?
  • Who says 8th graders can’t work together?
  • Who says 8th graders are not physically or mentally ready to take a Strength and Conditioning class?
  • Who says 8th graders like bodily function humor?

OK… maybe the last one is correct… the others… not so much!

This job can be really awesome!

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

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 – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Attributes of a Champion

What does a champion… a winner… look like?

They come in all sizes and shapes.

There are many attributes that make up a champion… some tangible, but many not easily quantified.

A couple of years ago, through a connection made possible by LinkedIn, I found a chart that provided an awesome visual that athletes can use for self evaluation.

Evaluation_of_Performance_Chart

You can read about how Coach Tony Courville (who I got the chart from) uses this tool in the Teurling Catholic Football Program in this post – Evaluation of Performance Chart.

I really like this chart… I think it brings into focus many of the abstract qualities related to being a winner.

In fact, I liked the chart and the concepts behind it so much that I converted it to a Word document so I could use it in my program, with my athletes.

word evaluation chart

You can download the chart through this link… editable Evaluation of Performance Chart… or clicking on the image above.

The document should be easy to customize, so you can add, delete, edit… do whatever you choose to make it useful to you and your program.  It is a series of grouped Text Boxes in a Word document.  You can drop in your own logo, edit the school name, and change the font or any verbiage that you want to make it your own.

Related Posts:

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

16 Links to Kickstart Your 2016

Thank you!

2015 was a terrific year for this blog, YouCanDoMore.net, with more views (over 60,000) and downloads (over 15,000) than ever before.

These were the top performing posts in terms of views this year… if you are a recent follower, some of these may have escaped you. Please click through to dig into the content.

  1. Defensive Game Planning – The Call Sheet (6,000 views)
  2. Weight Room – 101 (3,000 views)
  3. Film Grading Tool (3,000 views)
  4. Defensive Game Planning – The Play Grid (1,700 views)
  5. Making a Screen Recording (1,500 views)

These were the most popular series of posts in 2015. As you can see, the Defensive Game Planning series continues to be far and away the most popular.

  1. Defensive Game Planning – All Posts, Forms, and Videos (13,000 views in the series)
  2. Coaching Tools (9,000 views in the series)
  3. Recruiting (8,000 views in the series)
  4. Middle School Strength and Conditioning Program (5,000 views in the series)
  5. Lessons from the Masters (2,000 views in the series)

And finally, the most popular downloads this year.

  1. Defensive Call Sheet (1,000 downloads)
  2. Film Grade Template (800 downloads)
  3. Defensive Game Plan Play Grid (700 downloads)
  4. Practice Template (400 downloads)
  5. Workout Template (400 downloads)

But wait, there’s more… one more link to make it 16 links for 2016!  A popular post about multi-sports athletes:

  1. Fast “Track” to a Great Football Program

youcandomore

Thanks again for your loyal readership. One request…. if you have found the information on this blog interesting, helpful, informative or entertaining, please share with your colleagues.

Now, go watch some bowl games and enjoy the remainder of your holiday break!

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Risk, Failure, and Trust

A few days ago in our Strength and Conditioning classes, we threw a “changeup” at our students… we introduced front squat instead of the normal (back squat) lift we do on our squat emphasis day.   I have documented our philosophy behind these “changeup” days before in this blog, (Throwing a “Changeup”, Jumping Mental Hurdles) essentially forcing the students to adapt and compete when something unexpected is thrown at them.

question mark eye

As I glanced around, looking at a room full of athletes with big question marks in their eyes, I asked them the rhetorical question “would I ever ask you to try something that I thought you couldn’t do?”

Of course, when you teach 7th and 8th grade student there are no rhetorical questions, and immediately a chorus of blurted out answers filled the weight room….

An emphatic “NO” was pretty much the consensus each hour….

But…. in each hour there was also the dissenting vote of “Yes… yes, you would”

When I quizzed those dissenters as to WHY they thought that way… why they thought I would ask them to try something that they may not be able to do, their answers were…

  • “you always want us to push ourselves”
  • “you want us to go to our limit”
  • “you always think we can do more.”
  • “you like for us to do difficult things”

And that is correct… I absolutely would ask them to try things that are difficult … that they may not be able to accomplish.

Now, I understand the thinking of the masses in each class… trusting that ‘ol Coach Floyd wouldn’t put them in harms way by asking them to do something unreasonable… and that is true as well.

But, as I explained to each class, failure is OK… it is an option. In fact, Failure is your ONLY option.

For, until you fail, you really do not know what your limits are…. if you never fail, you probably are not adequately stretching your boundaries… if you fear failure, you continually look to put yourself into situations that success is guaranteed.  When you do that, you are missing out on growth opportunities.

As their teacher and coach it is my responsibility to push them… to challenge them.

It is also equally my responsibility to make sure that they understand that failure (I failed) is an action and not an identity (I am a failure).

I want them to trust that what I ask of them, including their resultant effort, and possible failure, will, in the long run, benefit them as an athlete and/or a human being.

Failure is a learning opportunity.

Related Posts:

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com