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 –

No Commitment?

Last night, driving home from football camp along a major highway in Kansas City, I had this billboard scream its message at me.

planet fitness

No Commitment?

Maybe a good business plan…

Not a good fitness plan…

Nor a good life plan.

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

Jeff Floyd –

Becoming a Competitor

Being a great competitor is as much mental as it is physical.

Great competitors don’t become that way just by waiting for Friday night (or whatever day you play) then flipping a “switch”.  They compete all the time… in everything they do.  It is a habit.

You can learn to become a better competitor…. one who goes into a contest brimming with just the right amount of confidence (see Confident vs Cocky) … looking forward to, and meeting any challenge that might be thrown your way.  I think the best way to become a better competitor is to compete every day.   A great time to do this is during your training regimen.

Abstract DiagramWhen I observe people training in the weight room, or on the practice field, I can tell quickly who the competitors are.  When it comes down to your last set, on your “Heavy” day lift, are you going to be content with just getting 1 or 2 reps, or are you going to fight for every rep?  When it comes down to the last rep of your conditioning drill, are you going to fight until you are totally “spent”, or ease up before you get to the finish line because your brain is telling you (lying to you) that you can’t possibly do any more or go any faster?

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

When the competition gets tough, the competitors compete!

  • Fight for every rep in the weight room… compete
  • Try to win every conditioning drill in your position group… compete
  • Outwork the person next to you… compete
  • Learn the plays better than anyone else on your team… compete
  • Have 100% attendance in your off-season program … compete
  • Challenge for a starting spot… compete
  • Workout when you are not feeling 100% … compete
  • Playing tiddlywinks…. compete

You get the picture.  The more you develop the habit of competing, doing things the absolute best that you can do, not just “going through the motions”… the better competitor you become.  By attacking and winning these smaller daily competitions, you prepare yourself for the bigger ones that arrive on Friday nights during your season.

Jeff Floyd –

Hang Snatch to Overhead Squat

Last week we introduced a new “combination” lift to our workout, Hang Snatch to Overhead Squat.  We occasionally add a combination lift (see post Combination Lift) to our weekly workout as a changeup; most recently I have discussed and shown video on the combination lifts Hang Clean to Front Squat, and Hang Clean to Push Press.

We try to be as simple as we can in our teaching and coaching of these combination lifts.  I know you can go into great detail teaching every part of this and every Olympic lift, and if I were training the athletes to be Olympic power lifters, I certainly would do that.  We are using this lift (and all of our lifts) to efficiently train our athletes, both men and women who participate in a variety of sports, to help improve performance in their sport(s).

When we teach it, we break in down into a few pieces that we have already discussed and taught.  To simplify the teaching, we tell the athletes that we want them to go from the Power Position (which they already know as the starting position for several of our lifts) to the Overhead Support Position (which they know from Push Press and Snatch) to the Overhead Squat Position.  The Overhead Squat position is “new” but we use essentially the same terminology as we do in teaching the Squat or Front Squat; Posture, Base, Full Range of Motion, Feet Flat, etc.

Although it is very similar to both the Squat and Front Squat, executing a squat with the bar in the Overhead Support position takes some getting used to especially in regards to balance.  We do this combination lift with light to medium weight, telling our athletes we want the movement to be a smooth, almost graceful motion.

Below is a telestrated video with audio comments showing a few of our athletes completing this combination lift.

As with the other combination lifts, this workout is taxing, but efficient.  In a recent column for, Dr. Daniel Lorenz talks about the benefit of these combination lifts for 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. “

The rest of Dr.Lorenz’s excellent article can be found here: Training the Multi Sport Athlete

Questions and Comments are always welcome!

Jeff Floyd –

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 –    Follow me on Twitter   @youcandomore1

My Squidoo Lens – You Can Do More!

Checking for Understanding

A point of emphasis for all teachers in our school this year has been  “checking for understanding” with our students.   As teachers, we are trying to move away from a strictly lecture format, with the instructor asking at the end of the period, “OK, did everyone get that?”; And with the students thinking to themselves, “No, I have no idea what you are talking about, but I am not about to let everyone know I am confused.”  By the time the final test rolls around, be it the MAP, EOC or any other standardized test, it is too late to check and see it they have “gotten it” or not.

As a coach, it is extremely important that we are doing a great job of teaching important concepts, and that we have ways to “check for understanding” with our players.  We do not want to wait until our final “test”, our contest Friday night, to see if our players have understood a particular concept, play, or defense.  If our players have not “gotten it” by that time, game time, then it is too late.

learning pyramid

Coach Keith Grabowski, Offensive Coordinator at Baldwin Wallace University, had an excellent post last week discussing the Retention of Learning and the “Learning Pyramid”.  In it, he details various ways to improve meetings, play insertion, practice and drill time.  I would like to share and piggyback off of a few of his ideas.  In preparation for Spring Practice, Coach Grabowski had these thoughts:

“With our coaches the message was to make meeting time as interactive as possible and to move away from lecturing and having their players read bullet points off a Power Point (lowest retention rate of learning). Instead, I wanted them to move towards using dynamic content whether that was Power Point diagrams with animations, still shot step-by-step illustrations with coaching points, film or preferably a combination of those things.   I encouraged our coaches to make the meetings as interactive as possible: Ask questions, have a player demonstrate, have them all stand up and show exactly the footwork or hand placement we expect. Don’t just allow the players to be passive learners.”

Yesterday, I used a play from Coach Grabowski’s playbook in my Advanced Strength and Conditioning Class.  We were evaluating video tape of their Power Clean technique. I used film from our previous class day, which I had exported to Hudl.  As each student’s clip came up, they were given the instruction to “Coach themselves and the rest of the class, focusing on 1) Power Position 2) Explosion Phase and 3) The Catch.”

We normally would do this in our Lecture Hall where it is a little more conducive to this type of teaching method, but it was being used.  We had to “monitor and adjust” and set up a film viewing station in our weight room.  Here is a clip showing one student-athlete going through this process.  The quality of the film is a little rough, but you can see and hear what is going on:

Coach Grabowski also discussed the benefits of making a screencast (or screen recording) of a presentation:

“I also encouraged them [coaches] to use our editing system to prepare video walk thru – essentially a screen cast of them talking through a play and giving coaching points. I like this method for an install because your comments as a coach are saved and accessible for player review later, whereas if you just talk through video in a meeting, once the meeting is over, there is nothing for the player to refer back to.”

My post yesterday , Making a Screen Recording, details how to make a screencast, or screen recording.

Coach Grabowski also took this philosophy out to the practice field:

“I also believe that our coaches do a great job organizing and preparing their practice drills and periods to be efficient and effective. As the learning pyramid shows, this has a 75% retention rate. The biggest area I encouraged both our players and coaches to improve on was having the players coach each other. I want every player not involved in the drill to be coaching and helping his teammates. I want the players to develop a coach’s eye for proper technique. I want them to understand and be able to see exactly right versus almost right.”

“To facilitate this I asked our coaches to follow a simple procedure:
1. Name the drill they are working and give the exact coaching points (being very efficient with language) that they are looking for.
2. The players should then be looking for those coaching points being executed by their teammates if they are waiting their turn.
3. They should also work to use the precise language that the coaches use. In all we do, we want to be able to communicate a coaching point in one to three words.”

You can see my thoughts on organizing practice drill work at this post: Running an Effective Drill

By implementing technology and insisting on interactive teaching and coaching methods from his coaches and players, Coach Grabowski is “checking for understanding” on a daily basis in the Baldwin Wallace football program.  Which instructional methods from the Learning Pyramid are you using to teach your student athletes in the classroom, in the weight room, or on the field?

Thanks to Coach Grabowski for providing a daily dose of great information via his blog: Coach and Coordinator.  You can follow Coach Grabowski on Twitter @CoachKGrabowski.

Questions and Comments are always welcome!

Jeff Floyd –

Going Until “Failure”

joyTypically on our “Heavy” day lift (Monday-Bench, Tuesday-Squat, Wednesday-Push, Friday-Clean) we go until “failure” – meaning we go until we can’t do any more reps using correct technique and/or without spotter help.  Going to “failure” is probably not a very good term to use, because it implies that the athletes themselves have failed.   It puts a negative thought into their head before they even step under the bar.  I prefer that the athletes focus on “breaking” (Breaking…. It’s a Good Thing!),  rather than failure.

When an athlete does a particular exercise until failure, they personally have not failed, it is just that particular muscle group has “failed“… is exhausted… cannot do another rep.  I think that it is important that the athlete understand that this is a good thing; that IT (not being able to continue) is not, nor are they, a failure.   Without pushing this threshold they would not get appreciably stronger.

Author Seth Godin discussed the idea of welcoming difficulties in his post, “Just the good parts,” last week:

“You don’t get to just do the good parts. Of course. In fact, you probably wouldn’t have chosen this path if it was guaranteed to work every time.

The implication of this might surprise you, though: when the tough parts come along, the rejection and the slog and the unfair bad breaks, it makes sense to welcome them. Instead of cursing or fearing the down moments, understand that they mean you’ve chosen reality, not some unsustainable fantasy. It means that you’re doing worthwhile, difficult work, not merely amusing yourself.

The very thing you’re seeking only exists because of the whole. We can’t deny the difficult parts, we have no choice but to embrace them.”

Training… daily, hard,  intense, consistent, physical, training… is tough… is reality.  It means you’re doing worthwhile, difficult work, not merely amusing yourself.    You have to do the hard stuff, not just the good parts,  to be great.  Embrace the difficult parts.

Questions and Comments are always welcome!

Jeff Floyd –

Changeup – Power Clean

power cleanAs a changeup (Throwing a “Changeup”), about once a month, we substitute the Power Clean for the Hang Clean in our weekly workout.   There is not a great deal of extra teaching involved with the lift; most of the technique and instruction is the same as Hang Clean.  The starting position is different, so most of our coaching deals with getting into the proper power position at the beginning of the lift.

We like this as a changeup because it helps teach the position we want the athletes to get into at the beginning of the hang clean.  At the beginning of the explosion phase of the Hang Clean (The Core Lifts – Hang Clean) sometimes the athletes have a tendency to bend too much at the waist, consequently using the back instead of the legs to complete the lift.  By teaching a good power position (starting position) on the Power Clean, it reinforces the position we want the athletes to be in at the start of the explosion phase of the Hang Clean.

The athletes should begin with their knees over, toes under the bar.  This will get the bar close to their body where it should remain throughout the lift.  They should have good bend in their ankles, knees, and hips.  Their hips should be down, with their shoulders back, and head slightly elevated.

We teach that the movement will begin slowly, with the bar accelerating as it reaches the area around the knees.  From this point on, the lift is identical to the Hang Clean.

Below is a telestrated video (with audio) of athletes displaying varying degrees of technique.

Questions and Comments are always welcome!

Jeff Floyd –

Navigating the Workout Card

I was up the other night thinking about a better way to introduce and explain our Excel based workout card within the limitations of this blog format.  Typically, the first day we introduce the workout card to our student-athletes (or coaches) we use a projector with a laptop.  The session involves walking through both visually and verbally how to read and manage their personalized workout card.  I have found that trying to explain the card via this blog, by just typing out an explanation can get pretty wordy, and the diagrams, just being pieces of the entire card, are not as clear as what I would like.

To solve this problem, I figured out how to make a screen recording, with audio (I will have a post about this later – it is a pretty slick trick, especially when making recordings of your Hudl telestrated video) showing the various parts of the workout card.  This will be the first of three video tutorials supplementing my previous posts regarding the workout card.

  • Navigating the Workout Card
  • Managing the 4 Day a Week Workout Card
  • Managing the 3 Day a Week Workout Card

Below is the first of these video tutorials, Navigating the Workout Card

Here are my previous posts regarding our Excel based workout program and the workout card

I hope this helps explaining the various parts of the workout card.  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, just leave a comment or shoot me an email.  I will reply!

Jeff Floyd –

How Do You “Skin the Cat” ?

  • “There is more than one way to skin a cat”
  • “There are only so many hours in a day”

Those two concepts are often diametrically opposed when coaching, and in particular when implementing a strength and conditioning program.

powers“There is more than one way to skin a cat” – or get a good workout! There are literally thousands of workout programs out there, and information about them all easily accessed.  Free weights, machine weights, dumbbell, kettlebell,  crossfit, sets, reps, cycles, plyometric,  Insanity, dynamic, Olympic, Core, P90X, this list of options go on and on.   And they are all good, all have benefits, you can get good results from them all.   If you had an endless amount of time (or at least 6-8 hours!) to teach and workout during the day, you could really explore and utilize many of these concepts and equipment.


“There are only so many hours in a day”.  At least with my athletes that is the case.  The are all in school, many are 2 or 3 sport athletes, some have jobs, they have hobbies,  they are in AP classes, they have to study, they have to sleep, they are involved in clubs and other school activities, they attend church and are involved in our community, and they have their families and social life.

So with those two opposing concepts, the trick becomes deciding what type of program to implement.   Here are the reasons we have implemented this training program (A Weekly (not weakly!) Workout Program) at our school.

  • I believe in it – our athletes believe in it
  • Lineage – The roots of this program, sets, reps, percentages, can be traced back to the work Hall of Fame Strength Coach Boyd Epley has pioneered
  • Individualized – Every athletes workout card is tailored to and based on their strength level
  • Efficient – Using the Workout Card (The Workout Card – Motivation and Efficiency) the athlete does not have to constantly consult a percentage chart.  The amount that they should lift is already calculated and printed on the card for every set/ rep.  They can finish the entire Core Lift part of the workout in 45-60 minutes.
  • Whole Body Workout – Most of the major muscle groups are worked daily
  • Combination of Power (Bench, Squat) and Explosive (Clean, Push) Lifts
  • All sports benefit from the workout.  It is not strictly a “football workout”. (In The Spotlight – Roy Bay)
  • Both Men and Women athletes benefit from the workout. (Training Women Athletes)
  • Flexible – 3 or 4 day a week lifting program (Problem Solving)
  • Flexible Cycles – Each card has a 3 x 8, and 5 x 5, and a 3 x 3 cycle printed on it. (Sets, Reps, and Cycles)
  • Flexible  By changing the supplemental lifts (Supplemental Lifts) you can keep the workout fresh, and tailor it to specific sport or athletes needs.
  • Motivation – Athletes see clearly from the workout card (The Workout Card – Motivation and Efficiency) where they started, and what their current results are.  Each day they enter the weight room with a goal of “breaking” (Breaking, it’s a good thing) on one of their Core lifts.
  • Easy for a Coach (me) to manage – We have over 300 athletes come through the weight room a day.  As coaches, there are only so many hours in the day for us as well.

All of our situations are different.  What works for me, may not work for you.  But it is important to know WHY you are doing what your are doing regarding your strength and conditioning program.  Doing something just because the University of Alabama does it is not reason enough.

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

Thanks for your questions and comments!

Jeff Floyd –