Sep 14, 2018
Managed Approach, Part 3
Francois Gazzano

A critical part of a strength coach’s job is to monitor and balance workloads. There are six commonly made mistakes in this area. We discussed the first two errors in Part 1 of this article, and two more in Part 2. Below are the last two:

Read Part 1 of this article here.

Read Part 2 of this article here.


Experienced athletes and sport coaches know what works well for them and what doesn’t. Getting their feedback can help identify a potential lack in motivation, stress, fatigue, and issues with the proposed training program. Busy strength coaches often overlook this crucial information.

What to do: Before you can receive meaningful feedback from athletes and sport coaches, you must develop mutual trust. To establish this dynamic, explain why you are seeking their input. Make sure they know that your goal is to help athletes perform better and stay healthy.

Once athletes and sport coaches trust you enough to share feedback, honor the gesture by tweaking your program to include their suggestions. If an athlete says a session was boring, too easy, too hard, or they didn’t like it, take them seriously. This could be a symptom of larger underlying issues, such as a loss of interest, issues at home, or burnout.

Similarly, if an athlete tells you they would prefer to back squat instead of front squat because of a sore collarbone or wrist, don’t hesitate to change the exercise. The impact on performance will be negligible, and the athlete will be grateful to you and even more committed to the team’s success. Remember, when athletes and coaches provide their thoughts and you don’t act upon them, they will eventually stop sharing.


Recent research indicates that when young athletes train and compete more hours per week than their age — so when a 12-year-old trains and competes more than 12 hours per week — their risk for sustaining overuse injuries increases by up to 70 percent. We often see this when young athletes participate on multiple teams or play several sports at once.

Strength coaches can’t change the amount of hours athletes dedicate to practices and games, but they can monitor training volume and reduce it when needed. Although the ability to sustain high training loads while staying healthy is required to reach top performance, building this tolerance takes years. Trying to rush the process by prescribing high loads when athletes are too young will likely lead to negative outcomes.

What to do: Use the athlete’s age to guide their weekly training volume. Have them keep a training log of all workouts and competitions they participate in on a weekly basis. Then, if the total number of hours per week spent on these activities exceeds their age, cut some sessions. I recommend using this technique with all athletes under the age of 18.

It’s also important to educate young athletes, their coaches, and parents about the risks associated with overtraining and the need to keep weekly loads to age-appropriate levels. Accomplish this during meetings by sharing relevant printed materials, slideshows, and websites.

As these six common errors show, workload management is no easy task. But by following the tips outlined above and staying engaged with athletes, strength coaches can avoid potential pitfalls and keep their players healthy and ready to perform.

Francois Gazzano, BSc, is the founder and CEO of, an evidence-based athlete management and workload optimization system used by high school, collegiate, national, and professional teams worldwide. As a full-time strength and conditioning coach and performance consultant for more than 15 years, Gazzano has helped dozens of youth, elite, and professional athletes reach their highest performance goals.

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