Dec 28, 2016Culture of Success
Creating an effective strength and conditioning program requires culture building. When I served as Director of Strength and Conditioning at the University of Mary Washington I used three specific rules, and then promoted a competitive environment.
Setting three major weightroom rules holds athletes accountable. The first related to workout gear. To create a culture of school pride, athletes were not allowed to wear any other school’s logos in our weightroom. During my first month at UMW, I probably sent 20 athletes to the locker room to turn their shirts inside out after they showed up in another school’s gear. Two years later, it rarely happened, and when it did, the upperclassmen resolved the issue themselves.
The second rule dealt with tardiness. Athletes should never be late to class, practice, or their job. Therefore, if they arrived late for a workout without a valid excuse, they were asked to leave for the day — it doesn’t matter if they were the best player on the team or a walk-on. This reinforced that the use of the weightroom is a privilege they can lose.
The third rule said athletes must always have their workout sheets with them when using the weightroom. I find that this creates a mentality where they associate the strength and conditioning facility with a place to get to business and follow directions.
Another important factor for building a culture is surrounding your program with a high level of energy and excitement. I try to make it so athletes want to come train with me rather than feeling like they have to.
Creating a competitive environment has helped with this. One of the first additions I made at UMW was installing a record board in the weightroom that displayed our top performances in the power clean, bench press, squat, pro agility drill, pull-ups, and vertical jump. There’s tremendous value in providing athletes with goals to shoot for, and posting records for their peers to see increases their external motivation.
When a record was broken, athletes and coaches posted it on social media, and when testing came around, everyone looked on the board to see what they had to beat. The bar was raised every semester, and some of our alumni came back to see if their record had survived.
The Iron Eagle contest was another part of our competitive culture. I am a firm believer that little things can add up to big success. So if an athlete grabbed the 80-pound dumbbells instead of the 60s to try to earn points for the Iron Eagle, I knew I’d done my job to motivate them.
A final piece of our culture was the appearance and organization of the weightroom. When a team walked into the facility, it was always organized and clean. I expected it to be returned to this state when the session was over.