There must be structure within a high school weight room. If there is not proper programming, coaching and supervision bad things will happen fast! Things must be planned for and be appropriate for the athletes. Unfortunately having an ideal situation in a high school weight room is few and far in between. This is mainly due to budgeting issues. Hiring a full time performance coach and the proper training equipment does cost money. To get around the issue of spending extra money most high schools will have the physical education teacher or sport coach run the weight room. This is not an ideal situation, but it is where most high schools find themselves.
Here are five things you can do as a physical education teacher or sport coach to make your time in the weight room safe and productive for your athletes.
1. Have Structure. There must be a plan in place to follow so when the athletes show up you look like you know what you are doing. There has to be credibility on your part as the one that is the acting performance coach. Athletes should be paired appropriately with other athletes to make things run smoothly. Each athlete should have their own pen and tracking sheet. Each athlete should respect the space and equipment that they are using. This is not the time to be horsing around, that is how injuries take place. Every weight room will have its own needs based on numbers, space, equipment and coaches, but make sure there is structure and things run smoothly.
2. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Teach what you know. If you do not know how to teach it DO NOT attempt to teach it! If you do know how to teach an exercise, but the athlete is not physically capable of performing the movement and you do not know how to fix it with other exercises DO NOT make the athlete perform the exercise! This seems like common sense, but is done 99.9% of the time. Teach what you know and keep it simple.
3. Program Appropriately. The majority of high school athletes could do quite well on a bodyweight routine for some time when starting out. Others might be ready for more challenging things. Whatever the case is make sure that the program is appropriate for the athlete.
4. Assign Weight Numbers or Percentages. The majority of athletes in the weight room will be boys. Every high school boy thinks they are stronger than they really are and want to lift the heaviest weights possible. When this takes place serious injury and missed playing time will likely follow. By assigning weights you will decrease the chance of an injury happening because a young boy will not be able to randomly choose how much he would like to lift. Percentages could be used for old athletes that have a few years of training under their belt and testing is more appropriate.
5. Track Progress. To make progress there needs to be a way to track training sessions to make improvements. This is as easy as having each athlete have their training program printed out and giving them a pen. This might seem obvious, but with high school athletes you need to stress to them that they actually have to fill in the sheet before they leave the weight room. Keep track of numbers and measure the progress that is being made so consistent gains can be made.