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

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

It’s That Simple

Last week, while sitting at a varsity basketball game, I had the chance to visit with a group of former students that I had in my 8th grade Strength and Conditioning class last year. These student-athletes are now high school freshman and have had a really terrific year… athletically and academically… at our high school.

The conversation centered on their successful first year, and their anticipation of great things to come… they really are a gifted class, by the way.

One of the students made the comment along the lines of  “We’ve got this, Coach… we are going to be the class to turn things around at this school”

I replied, “keep working… you will

He came back with “That’s all you’ve got coach… keep working?”

Yes”, I said, “it really is that simple… and that difficult

It really is that simple…

  • Keep working….
  • Keep chopping wood
  • Keep pushing
  • Keep grinding
  • Keep plugging away
  • Keep driving

And really that difficult…

  • when you start to get pulled different directions…
  • when you lose sight of your goals…
  • when academic rigor gets tough…
  • when cars, and jobs, and relationships start stealing your time…
  • when your alarm goes off at 5:30 am during summer “vacation”…
  • when injuries happen…

when you and your classmates get hit with the million different distractions that are always lurking… just waiting to pounce on you… during your high school career…

Keep working.

chopping wood

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

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

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.

IMG_5057

 

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 – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

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:

toolbox

  • 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 – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Strength in Numbers

As coaches we sometime get caught up trying to get BIG improvement out of our athletes and out of our teams.  And that is OK, and expected…but, don’t forget that there is also strength in numbers.

Imagine …..

  • If everyone on your squad got just a little stronger
  • If everyone on your squad improved even a little on their ball handling skills
  • If everyone on your squad became just a little better at tackling
  • If everyone on your squad got just a little faster
  • If everyone on your squad became just a little better at bunting
  • If everyone on your squad improved his or her free throw percentage just a little
  • If everyone on your squad became just a little bit better technicians
  • If everyone on your squad improved his or her mental toughness even a little
  • If everyone on your squad reported to camp just a little better conditioned than last year
  • If everyone on your squad improved their batting average even slightly

You get the idea.

If everyone improves, even just slightly, it adds up to big team improvements… In strength, ball handling, tackling, speed, bunting, free throw percentage, technique, mental toughness, conditioning, or batting average.

Which leads to better team performance.

weakLinkThe key, of course, and the trick is, the “everyone” part of the equation.  Great teams have it figured out… Every team member has bought in and understands that their teammates are counting on them to improve, even if it is just a little…. the old “weakest link” adage.

 

As we are heading into our Fall seasons, what can you, your staff, and your team leaders do to insure that everyone on the squad feels the need to improve… even just a little?

You Can Do More (even just a little)… your brain is lying to you… Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

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