Jan 4, 2018
Group Project

As a strength and conditioning coach, you have to work with numerous athletes on a daily basis. Many times, this means dealing with a large group all at once. How can you be the most effective when this happens, while still meeting the needs of each and every athlete?

In a blog for TrainHeroic, Mike Dewar, CSCS, NSCAS, USAWL2, offers several tips for getting the most out of your large group training sessions. First is to be completely prepared for the entire workout. According to Dewar, coaches should take at least 10-15 minutes before each session to sketch out their plan. Otherwise, control is easily lost and precious time will be wasted. When creating this roadmap, Dewar stresses keeping it as simple as possible by focusing on what’s most important.

“When programming, place an emphasis on the exercises that are critical to performance (which means you may have to make some hard decisions) by doing them first in sessions,” he writes. “All other sections need to be balanced out to allow for proper recovery and restoration after long training sessions.”

During this planning stage, coaches can become even more efficient by organizing their athletes into groups. Dewar advises coaches to create groups of no more than three, as this means someone can be working, another athlete can be spotting, and the last can be resting.

“Any more and you may start to get people herding together and not staying on task,” writes Dewar. “I then suggest you pair athletes up who lift similar loads and/or are at similar body heights (such as when squatting, benching, or anything from the racks) to really keep things running smoothly.”

The next tip is to take some time after warm-up to explain to the athletes what they will be doing during the session. Dewar suggests writing these instructions on a dry erase board and putting it in a visible area for athletes to check back on and follow if needed.

But explanation doesn’t stop there. Dewar highly recommends asking the athletes if they have any questions before they begin their workout.

“Always ask three times, since some people will be shy or fail to ask the first time,” writes Dewar. “If you create the culture that asking questions is not only good to do, but also needed (as many people may have the same questions), you can start to open up lines of communication with your teams and athletes, as well as start to become better at foreseeing any issues in your programming or instructions.”

Once you begin the session, being efficient means keeping everyone on track. This means structuring workouts, keeping track of the time, and keeping the sessions on pace. Dewar also explains that coaches need to set the tone for their athletes by telling them exactly what they need to do and how long it should take them. But while structure is necessary, Dewar also admits that being flexible is just as important.

“Sometimes you may need to adjust a program that day to include a longer warm-up when athletes come in feeling run down by their previous training or games, while other times you may need to swap out exercises or stations that looked good on paper but realistically do not flow well with the workout,” writes Dewar.

One last piece of advice is to have freshman or new athletes visit during open hours to teach them what they need to know about their sessions. According to Dewar, it’s important to give these athletes direct, one-on-one instruction to help them keep up with their teammates and effectively engage in their future team workouts.

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