Jan 28, 2017
Things I believe
Rick Huegli, CSCS

Pretty simple fundamentals and observations from a strength and conditioning coach who’s been doing it a few years

I’ve always enjoyed manifesto type articles where the author writes out their beliefs. I don’t think there is anything revolutionary about my positions and I know there is a lot of room for discussion, debate, and disagreement. There is also room to develop the list. I think it is a good drill for anyone to create their own belief list. Below is mine relevant to my experience and situation.

Things I believe

  • I believe preventing weight room injuries is job 1.
    • We are a performance enhancement program with fundamental skill as our foundation. If we are competent and confident in what we do as athletes, and communication is a part of our fundamentals as coaches we will prevent injuries.
    • We will not be reckless in our approach.
  • I believe a program is as good as the head coach wants it to be.
    • How does the head coach support the program. Programs take on the personality of the head coach of the sport and that of the head strength and conditioning coach. If the head sport coach weakly supports the strength program, team commitment will follow suit. A programs discipline, accountability, and work ethic directly influence the temperament of the overall strength and conditioning program.
  • I believe that the Foam Roller is the most undervalued tool in most gyms.
    • A tool is a thing until there is deep understanding of how the tool can be used and what magical change it contains. That goes for a jump rope, a medicine ball, a barbell, a dumbbell, a kettlebell and so much more. Committing to a consistent regimen of deep understanding and practice with these tools will change the athlete.
  • I believe in a big force, in the right direction, through a full range of motion, in a short period of time.
    • I label this as the “hokey pokie” because that’s what it’s all about!
    • Speed and power formula…with a lot of skill along the way.
  • I believe that you’ve got to get strong before you can get strong.
    • We have to develop core strength and stability so we can maintain proper performance postures. We cannot rush the process faster than our strength will allow. The stronger and more stable we are means we can hold our athletic skill postures when the chaos of execution takes place and we can apply forces in the right direction without losing our balanced line of force. When we are “core strong” (from the bottom of the sternum to the tops of our knees and all the way around, we are able to start/stop/change direction, push/pull , flex/and extend with skillful, stable lines of force.
    • We accomplish this primarily by maintaining a primary focus on bracing to stabilize with all of our lifts.
  • I believe in discipline, work ethic, and accountability.
    • Without it what’s the point. With it we learn lessons that teach us about ourselves and take us places we never would have gotten without it. It is the opening statement for our strength and conditioning program. I’m just a supervisor if our program doesn’t strive to deliver this to our student athletes.
    • This is where the educational value and takeaway begin in sport.
  • I believe the key question is “What am I trying to accomplish?”
    • This gives definition and structure to the program and program design. I look at the year, the month, the week, the day and there must be context for all of this…Where are we going and how are we going to get there.
    • This question gives me context, sequence, mechanical and technical understanding for movements and skills, enabling me to properly progress/regress, cue, and motivate the athletes.
    • If an athlete or coach ever asks “Why are we doing this (this drill, this exercise)?” and I don’t have a good reason or answer, then we probably shouldn’t be doing it. We must constantly ask ourselves this question.
  • I believe in Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD).
    • It is a marathon and not a sprint.
    • As a high school strength and conditioning coach I am in the construction business. Everything we are doing today is foundation for what we’re going to be doing next year.
  • I believe Job 1B is “Please the boss.”
    • I put whatever my boss asks of me at the top of my “to do list”. A boss happy with my work makes succeeding with my work so much easier.
  • I believe that movement is the fountain of youth.
    • If we don’t move we erode toward dying. The adage “use it or lose it” applies to our movement abilities and as we/I age, quality of movement enables freedom to take on skillful and challenging tasks. Lack of movement creates health and wellness issues…choose to move.
    • The better the athlete moves, the better the athlete.
  • I believe it’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate.
    • If you tolerate athletes coming to training late you get lots of late athletes. If you tolerate poor technique the athlete will be slow to develop better technique.
    • Be clear in what you expect and what you deliver. I can teach a great lesson for a “Clean progression” but if I let the athlete use poor technique and I’m not working hard to help them understand and correct then I am tolerating lousy execution.
  • I believe in fundamentals.
    • Foundational exercises and simple progressions are the baseline for our program.
  • I believe that everything that happens in the weight room I am accountable for.
    • If an athlete gets hurt, it’s my fault. If the training program is poor, it’s my fault. If an athlete demonstrates poor technique, it’s my fault. If an assistant coach delivers a poor lesson, it’s my fault.
  • I believe everything accomplished in the strength and conditioning program is because the athlete chose to show up and do the work.
    • My ego is not a part of their success.

Rick Huegli is a Region 5 Board Member and Strength and Conditioning Coach at Lakeside School in the Seattle area.

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