High School

Data Drives Determination - High School Coaching

Explore how data-driven coaching at Charlotte Christian enhances athlete performance and fosters higher achievements on and off the field.
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Everything in the world, but especially in strength and conditioning, goes through phases. We try to be around the ‘next best thing’ and some may stick with it and keep building on it, while others return to their roots in which their belief system has built off of. 

One of the things, like said before, that makes high school coaching unique is that there is no cookie cutter-ness, where you can just go to that school down the road and do the same exact thing as you were at your last place. We have our beliefs, our system, but how we carry out those ideals can look really different in each place. Time, space, number of athletes, what season, etc. all impact what we are doing from a programming standpoint to try to put the best product forward. 

But how are we grading ourselves? Efficacy, to me, is a major priority for us at Charlotte Christian and in my private programming: I want to make sure our program is working for what it should be working for. The X’s and O’s make a huge difference, yes, but the transferability into higher performances should be an umbrella over what is driving the decisions in a program while also bringing determination to the hands of the athletes.

So now we come to this word that gets thrown around a lot in our field: data. How do we track it? Why do we track it? Probably most importantly, WHAT do we track? 

Data in the Coach’s Eye

I remember when I got my hands on our first GPS units I wanted to keep track of everything we possibly could. What I quickly found out was that this did not bring me anything that really mattered and did not make our program more effective–it probably actually took us a step backwards because I was too lost in the weeds and I lost sight of what the data really could show me. 

I spent too much time looking at the data, and not reading between the lines of what the data was showing me. It’s not what you look at, it is what you see. 

Then all of a sudden, I entered a new school where our coach to athlete ratio was usually somewhere about 1:50 on average. How was I supposed to breakdown data in that? Better yet, how would I even track it? 

I had to simplify the data collection and breakdown process. My KPI’s quickly changed from where I needed to watch every second of every rep to letting the data tell the story. So what story was it telling? In my eye I saw where the holes were in our programming. Working with mostly the high school population, there is consistent expectation, especially on the male side, that we are going to see progress in the data that we are tracking. 

Finally, at Charlotte Christian, I am able to spend some more time ‘on the grass’ and not in the weeds. We have simplified and are starting to perfect our process of data collection and breakdown.

When I can finally spend time with the data, there are two big questions to answer:

  1. Why? If our data is progressing, what are we doing to make it go up? Yes, high school kids are malleable and will progress with almost whatever stimulus we throw at them, but you still want to understand the why. For us, I want some of our main benefits to jump high and sprint fast, which can usually go hand in hand. But if we are heavy in strength training, as well as putting on body weight, maybe those numbers are not going to grow. Boom, that’s a why.
  2. How? Being able to explain the how, especially if the data is changing positively or negatively, is really important. When a sports coach comes into the office to talk about their team, I want to be able to show them how their team is progressing or regressing in order to show them what we are doing and what it means for them as a team.

Data in the Athlete’s Eye

I have worked with and work with some of the best, most determined student-athletes you can ever meet. But there’s plenty on the opposite side of that spectrum as well.

But as soon as that clipboard comes out, there is nowhere to hide. The feeling in the room starts to shift towards the numbers on whatever device we are using and whatever data point we are tracking for that day. It raises the competitive level in the room, making my life as a coach better because I do not consider myself a master motivator. 

This is where the data drives determination. 

We have multiple different technologies in our program to track data and our kids are obsessed with everything that can come out of them:

  • “Coach, how fast was I today on the GPS?”
  • “Coach, can I see my squat data from the last few months?”
  • “Coach, what did (insert name of teammate here) jump?”
  • “Coach, can we get ONE MORE rep to see if I can run faster?”

There are all common phrases being thrown around. One of the keys that I have found to really raising our level is the ability for immediate feedback. The live leaderboard feature that Output gives us has kids excited about what they are going for that day, and are consistently comparing themselves to their teammates, and even sometimes from other sports depending on the day or week. 

This alone has raised the bar in our program to show the athletes that what we do matters. Sure, as a coach, it is good to spend time with your data and program off of it. But spending time with your athletes and the data? That’s a win win for all. 

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