High School

Quiet the Noise: Simplifying High School Programming

Learn to streamline your strength programs and navigate weight room space constraints for maximum impact.
Instagram LinkOutput Sports Twitter LinkOutput Sports Linked In LinkOutput Sports Facebook LinkOutput Sports Youtube Link

When we think about what challenges coaches on a regular basis, especially those new in the field, is programming. We all want to build bullet-proof programs that will provide our student-athletes with all the intangibles they need to be successful at their sport. We want every detail to be worth something and easy to read, while also working seamlessly in our spaces and keeping everyone safe.

Simple right?

Early on in my career, programming was something that I would spend hours on end working on. Multiple rough drafts would happen, be sent out to some coaching friends, erased off of whiteboards and written back up. It seemed to be what I believed was really important to being successful as a coach and running a proper strength and conditioning program. 

But the more I coached, the more I realized that programming on the front end should not be as much of a worry, especially working with high school students that, for the most part, were going to develop no matter what I really threw at them. I had a mentor that continually told me that it was not what we were doing, it was how we were doing it. 

Like I have said before, the beautiful thing about high school strength and conditioning is that there is no plug and play system. You cannot run someone else’s program because there are so many different limitations that may impact your programming on the front end–time, number of student-athletes, space, equipment–while also being impacted on the back end by athlete skill and age. 

That vastness creates situations where coaches need to strive towards creating their own plug and play system to take care of simplifying their program on the front end, saving time and keeping details off of the strength and conditioning coach’s plate. 

Naturally, at Charlotte Christian, our programming is cyclical. With the majority of our student-athletes participating in multiple sports, the system we have created allows us to plug and play our programming throughout the year. Our programming is consistently going through progressions and regressions while triphasic ideals impact our set and rep schemes cycle to cycle. 

We have created ‘rules’ for us to follow that help keep our programming simple, more so creating some level of ‘needs analysis’ that we are constantly running:

#1. Know Your People 

Like stated above, you may have a group that is extremely different within their own team. We have multiple groups at school that have some possible professional athletes mixed in with those that are new to the sport and to training. Because of this, we have to create programs and systems that allow all of those athletes to be trained properly for what they need. Output allows us to train certain kids within certain ranges, using such things as VBT and different jumping patterns to better serve the athlete. 

Knowing your people is also understanding what the flow of the room will look like for specific groups. With our women’s teams, I know we can put multiple programs together where our workflow will not be negatively impacted and the program will feed itself. Meanwhile, our men’s teams naturally take better to the station based approach in our room and flow from spot to spot. This impacts our programming.

#2. Know Your Goals 

Goal setting is a great way to build out your programming templates cycle to cycle. These goals may also be very different team to team, dependent on the sport and where they are in the year. 

Right now, for example, our football athletes are trying to put on mass while also learning our speed development program; that way, as we move closer towards the season, we are able to continue our development towards being what we call ‘heat seeking missiles’ in-season. 

Meanwhile, our women’s lacrosse team is late in their season, where our focuses are keeping tendons healthy and limiting the tension they are feeling in their body. The training sessions are short and sweet, with focuses on speed and power while also coupling and contrasting with mobility work to keep their bodies happy as gameplay is in full swing. 

Reverse engineering is a great way to program off of your goals. Defining where you want to be come playoffs and working backwards in progressions and regressions can start to simplify what you are trying to build as part of your programming. 

#3. Know the How

This is arguably the toughest question to answer but also the most important: how?

At the high school level, there is a multitude of constraints and considerations that we must take into account when we are designing our programs. Space is our biggest hold-up currently at Charlotte Christian, and because of this, we need to have our system be dictated by this. 

Sure, there are times that we want to swing kettlebells or throw and slam medicine balls all over, but that takes up a lot of space. Maybe you want to match some chin ups and barbell bench press, but the only bars you have to use for chins ups are over the platform where they need to bench. Creating some issues, right?

Understanding this layout with underlying restrictions is the toughest step of simplifying your programming system. After a few months, I’ve come to understand that utilizing barbells in our room can be detrimental to the flow of our large groups as it seemingly cuts our room in half. Because of this, our template usually comes out with four exercises: a dumbbell/kettlebell exercise, a band exercise, a plyometric or mobility exercise, and a ground based exercise (core or mobility). 

When we can simply spell that out in our heads as we stand at our whiteboards or sit at our desk to hash out programming, we can make a tough job simpler. A win-win for all. 

Learn More!

A great resource for this topic is Output’s webinar from a few months ago titled ‘Optimizing High School Weight Room Flow’ which you can find here.

SPeak to a performance specialist

Book a demo to see how Output how Output can support you and your goals.