May 26, 2017
Building Your Box
Toby Jurging

“Think outside of the box.” How many times have we heard this advice? Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with this approach. Nothing wrong, that is, if you have a box to begin with. What is your box? What makes up your box? What goes inside your box?

For me, my box is my program. It has a base, four sides, and a top. We know that our box has a height, a length, and width.

Before I go thinking outside of the box too much, I have to make sure my box is constructed well, made of solid material, and that it can stand up to the beating it is going to take. Heck, some may even jump on my box, so I want to make sure it is solid enough to withstand that load. Now, I am not saying my way is the only way, and that is the beauty of being a strength coach. We get to build our boxes (programs and/or gyms) any way we like. So, let’s build a box!

The Base

This is our training philosophy. What type of training drives our program? I know what I like to use, and which methods and techniques work for me. This doesn’t mean that I stop learning and don’t try to tweak, but I have a solid base, one that supports my box.


There are four sides to a box. These are the support structures that allow my program to stand on my philosophy. The four sides are our mission. They are what holds up our program. They are our “why.” Our mission is to:

  • Decrease Injuries
  • Increase Performance
  • Develop Quality Young Men/Women
  • Have Fun


Seems simple, doesn’t it? Put a piece here, four pieces there, slap on a top, and nail it together. Well, not so fast. We can’t forget that our box (square or rectangle) has dimension. It has an area within its walls. It is an area that lies deep. It’s not necessarily seen, but we know it is there and we rely on it to support our program. Besides height and length, a box has width, or a depth to it. For us, the depth of our box is our values. What is it that we believe in, behind the scenes, underlying, holding up our program? Our values are:

  • Ownership
  • Persistence
  • Respectfulness
  • Consistency

Now that we have a base and four sides, and have filled up the box with the really important items, we can put the final piece on top. This is our program all wrapped up in a box. We know what we believe in from a training and personal belief standpoint. We have secured it and nailed it together, and now it is time to flip it around, push it, kick it, and jump on it. Let’s give it some time to break in, and see if we have constructed a solid piece, made to withstand. Or are there repairs to be made? Be proud of your box. It is yours, and you have put time and energy into building it.

There are a lot of boxes out there. Some are painted up all nice and fancy, while others are just bare wood. But each one is someone’s box, and they believe in it for some reason. It is okay to admire other boxes and learn from their creators, but that doesn’t mean you need to scrap your box and buy theirs. Instead, maybe start small. Change the paint color, and see how you like it. Does it make your box better or worse? If you like it, great. Enjoy your new box. The paint doesn’t work with your box? That is fine. Maybe it’s a good time to see if another color works better. Heck, you could even remove the color and go back to your original box.

In the end, you don’t have to be the most skilled carpenter or woodworker to build a quality box. With a few tools, and some patience, we can all create a solid box — one that can hold together for years to come.

Toby Jurging is the Strength and Conditioning Coach at Hudson (Ohio) High School. He has had the privilege of working in a variety of settings and professions, including major NCAA Division I athletics, professional baseball, high school teacher, university instructor, private sector and hospital rehabilitation. But the best job that Toby has ever had is being father to 5-year-old triplets.

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