Jul 26, 2017
Using Metrics, Part One

Like most strength and conditioning coaches do, I used to spend hours stressing the importance of sleep, hydration, and nutrition to my athletes at Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross, Ga. I hung hydration charts in the restrooms, talked nutrition with parents, and produced informative fliers about sleep. Nothing seemed to move the needle–some athletes listened, but most did not.

Then one day I read a quote from management consultant, educator, and author Peter Drucker that stated: “What gets measured gets managed.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. If I wanted to manage certain wellness variables with my athletes, I needed to measure them.

That revelation was roughly two years ago. Since then, we’ve been monitoring sleep, hydration, nutrition, stress, and readiness, and it’s been a difference maker for our Spartans Strength Program. We’ve seen increased performance, decreased injuries, and athletes who are more engaged in their training than ever before.

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Of course, there are some challenges to incorporating sports science at the high school level, but they can be overcome with flexibility and resourcefulness. If you remain open to the unique benefits technology can bring to your program, advanced metrics can be a difference maker for you, too.

Before you incorporate sports science in your program, make sure it aligns with your overall philosophy. At GACS, it fits with our mission to engage, educate, and empower athletes to develop skills that will improve sport performance and develop a lifetime pursuit of wellness.

As coaches, our charge is to connect with athletes in a way that creates engagement. Yet, we’re going up against today’s high-tech world in which entertainment and information are at athletes’ fingertips. As their access to information has increased, their attention span, focus, and perseverance have decreased.

Metrics allow us to draw athletes back in by actively involving them in the training process. Plus, since smartphones, tablets, and computers are already ingrained in their daily lives, they are excited to add a technological element to their strength and conditioning work.

Once we’ve engaged athletes, we can educate them. Education is not just providing information–it’s also demonstrating what to do with that information. Athletes once did whatever they were told, but today’s generation wants to know the reasoning behind exercises and drills. This shift in thought and behavior is not negative. Rather, it’s an understandable adaptation to the technological world in which athletes now live.

In response, strength coaches must make programs “sport-relative.” I am careful to explain the rationale behind my coaching choices, and this carries over to our use of metrics. For example, I’ll say to an athlete: “You are a high-performance racecar. You need the right fuel at the right time to win the race. That’s why we talk so much about hydration, nutrition, and rest. We want you to win the race, not just lead a lap!

If approached correctly

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