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 “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

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

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 – 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

Bridger Strength

The Bridger Middle School weight room is coming along!  Over the past several months Truman High School has acquired many new pieces of equipment, which allowed the older or underutilized pieces to be passed down to Bridger.  Seven new racks, with accompanying adjustable benches, a Lat/ Row machine, and some bars and plates has transformed the Bridger weight room, which began with good space and some existing equipment, into one of the top middle school facilities in the area.

bridger1

We will begin the Strength and Conditioning program at Bridger this fall.  It is the current plan that every Bridger student, 6th – 8th grade, will have a 6-week strength and conditioning unit this school year.  It is an ambitious program, but one that we are looking forward to.  I will keep you posted as the year progresses!

bridger2

 

The Bridger Middle School students will soon be realizing that ….

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Motivation and Evaluation

I want to take some time to clarify the difference between the “Start” column (cells) and the “Now” column in the Excel Workout Workbook.

motivationThe Start column is where I put the beginning Estimated 1RM for each athlete.  It could be either their max when they first begin the program, or it could be their starting max for a particular evaluation period, such as the start of a semester, or the start of an off-season cycle.   None of the calculated formulas in the workout card are based on the cells in the Start column – these are strictly used for motivation or evaluation purposes.

The Now column, on the other hand, changes with each “break” (see Breaking – It’s a Good Thing!) and are the values that the workout is based on.  Every time an athlete “breaks” on one of their 4 Core lifts, their 1RM in the Now column is increased by 10 pounds.  All of the calculated formulas in the workout section of the workbook are based on the values in the Now column.

I added the Start column to the workout workbook just within the last year for two reasons.

  1. It was a motivation piece for the student-athletes.  It became easy for them to compare what their current strength level is compared to when they started the program.  Every time they pick up their card, it is right there for them to see.
  2. I used it an evaluation piece for the student-athletes.  As a teacher/ coach it was easy to monitor their progress, either from their start in the program, or over a specific evaluation period (like a semester of school).

Here is a brief tutorial on how the Start and Now columns are used:

As always – any questions just email or comment – I will answer!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Battle the Time Crunch with “Active Recovery”

active recovery for 3Yesterday  (Tuesday) we incorporated a combination lift (hang clean to front squat) ANDactive recovery” into our weekly (A Weekly (not weakly!) Workout) workout schedule.  With many of our athletes involved in multiple sports, most of them do not have a true off-season.  Couple that with only having 40-45 minutes during a class period, and time becomes a factor.  Dr. Dan Lorenz discussed the concepts of combinations lifts and active recovery in a recent article at PrepsKC.com, “Training Multi-Sport Athletes.

“Secondly, workouts can be kept shorter for the kids by doing combination lifts. For example, an athlete can do a hang clean to front squat to a press, or a squat to press. These are extremely fatiguing movements, but because it’s multi-joint and gets both upper and lower body, an athlete can do 4-5 sets of this and be done. Numerous combinations exist and are only limited by creativity of the coaches.”

“Next, exercises for other sports could be used as an “active recovery” between sets. For example, baseball players can do their rotator cuff program exercises in between sets of squats, cleans, or deadlifts. That way, the athlete is completing more exercises in less time, but also addressing needs for each sport they play. Sometimes, rope jumping or doing various hop patterns in place provide a useful means of an active recovery.”

Tuesday is our “Light” Clean day.  We had our athletes use the weight showing on their card for the Tuesday, Clean, 3 x 8 cycle, decreased the reps from 8 to 5, and added a full front squat on each rep.  We also had the athletes who were not doing the primary lift (Clean to Front Squat) engage in what is known as an “active recovery” phase.  We set up the routine and rotation as follows:

2 Person Rotation

  • 1st Set – Clean to Front Squat – Tricep Extension
  • 2nd Set – Clean to Front Squat – Upright Row
  • 3rd Set – Clean to Front Squat – Bent Over Row

The athletes rotated after each set, going from Clean/Squat to the dumbbell exercise and visa versa.  The athlete completing the active recovery phase (dumbbell work) began when the Clean/Squat person started, and stopped when he was finished.

Here is a brief video showing what the 2 Person Rotation looks like:

3 Person Rotation

  • 1st Set – Clean to Front Squat – Tricep Extension – Jump Rope (2 ft same place)
  • 2nd Set – Clean to Front Squat – Upright Row – Jump Rope (2 ft front to back)
  • 3rd Set – Clean to Front Squat – Bent Over Row – Jump Rope (2 ft side to side)

The athletes rotated after each set, going from Clean/Squat to the dumbbell exercise to the Jump Rope drill.  All of the athletes in one group began when the Clean/Squat person started, and stopped when he was finished. You can see the Jump Rope patterns at a previous post – Jump Rope Training

Here is a brief video showing the 3 Person Rotation:

When all of the athletes in the group had finished 3 sets of the Clean/Squat combination lift, they went on to their “Medium” push press workout, which is what the normal Tuesday workout calls for.  It was a GREAT day in the weight room!

We Did More!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Spotlight Update

A quick update on how the three athletes that have been featured in the You Can Do More! “spotlight” are doing this spring.  Despite the dismal weather, all three are having some great performances:

bayRoy Bay is undefeated this track season in his individual sprint races.  He has won the 100m Dash at the Rusty Hodge (Blue Springs South) Invitational, and the 55m Dash at the University of Central Missouri Indoor.  Both of these are large, Kansas City Metro wide meets.  In addition he anchored 4 x 100m relay team that set a school record of 43.27 by running a 9.2 split.  Roy also anchored the 4 x 200m relay team that won the Rusty Hodge Invitational.

 

hartThis spring Alexis Hart was selected for the 15’s Nationals Gold Volleyball team.  As a member of the Truman High School track squad she logged a 34’6” triple jump in her first meet, which was the first time she had competed in that event!  That distance is only 3” shy of the school record.  Alexis was also a member of the 4 x 400m relay team, which took second at the University of Central Missouri Indoor meet.

 

hayesJ.T. Hayes has already logged 3 Home Runs, 2 Doubles and 7 RBI’s in only 7 games of this rain interrupted baseball season for the Truman baseball squad.

 

 

I am very proud of these athletes for the hard work they put in preparing for their respective seasons.  You can see the “Spotlight” posts for these athletes, which include their current workout card, workout video, and detailed information at the links below.

Questions and Comments are always welcome!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com    Follow me on Twitter   @youcandomore1

My Squidoo Lens – You Can Do More!