Building an athletic development program for a high school, part 3

So, this is where the rubber meets the road and the things get real - the session programming. The programming of your training is made out of exercises/movements and that is the part where the individual differences make every program, every environment, every coach and every athlete, unique. That said, maybe it is would be good to offer the following disclaimer before presenting my own version of programming: 
My program: 
1. Certainly is not perfect, it's a work in progress.
2. Has been evolving with the athletics program and with me for the past 7 years
3. Follows the principles that I think are the most important in a high school setting

So if you disagree with the exercise selection, I'm glad, that makes us different. But I hope we can agree about the principles.

What are my main reasons behind the format?

1. Simplicity
It might not look simple to you but it is very fast for me to choose the right exercises for an individual by using a highlighter pen. Not everyone does all the exercises, I take the first small step towards individualization by selecting exercises/movements based on the person. It gives me a 'template' without forcing me to use a 'protocol'.

2. Progression
Although everyone has their own pace and order in progression, I have tried to follow a progression that increases the amount of challenge/difficulty/stimulation step by step. Obviously there might be a need for regressions as well and if an athlete would not be successful doing the base level program (1) then individualized regressions are introduced. Same way is dealt with pain in movement; we find a range of movement or path of movement that is pain-free and start with that. I am always surprised how often the movement improves and pain decreases by just staying within the pain-free threshold. 

3. Time
I don't have the time to teach every single exercise from A to Z, I wish I did but that is not a reality in my environment. That is why I mainly choose movements that are fast, easy and simple to teach and show. Ultimately, I know something is working when the athletes are teaching each other the movements. 

Anyway, I love programming, so I could go on but I probably don't need to. The last thing... this is really a tool to help make my life and work easier. It that is not achieved, then we are going into wrong direction. I also had an opportunity to switch to an online training platform, but I decided to hold off for at least another year.

So here it is...


Systematic approach to Athletic Development

The more comprehensive the system of athletic development is, the more moving parts and chances there are to miss the forest from the trees. That is why each program should have over arching and simple principles guiding the whole process. These are some of mine:

1. Future
Coaching athletic development for young people is more about their future and long term growth than it is about this season. My work and their participation is an investment into their future. The goal, of course, is a healthy and athletic future in the sport and/or life in the capacity that they choose to engage in it. 

2. FUN
FUN can be challenging. FUN can be rewarding. FUN can be effective. FUN can bring 'serious' results. In fact, I believe it is the best way for long term success. 

3. Functional
Yes, of course it needs to be functional. But, there is more to that. It is doing the right things, at the right time, for the right reason - for the right person! In other words a) Specific to the task and the person b) Appropriately designed and adjusted program for a given situation and environment c) Guided by the big WHY's on the background. The HOW and WHAT only stay under control when the WHY stays close to the hearts and minds of the coaches.

In practice, the actual system or set of guidelines of Athletic Development is there to guide us, to remind us and to help us make good decisions when writing down the actual plan/program of the day for our athletes. This table helps me keep me organized and prioritized. 

Keep it up friends! 

Tommi the Trainer