Above the Clouds

When preparing a training program there are 3 questions that need to be asked and in the following order.

  1. What is your goal?
  2. How much time can you commit to your goal?
  3. What is your body currently capable of?

These 3 questions allow the coach to gather the necessary information to prepare a training program for an athlete. They are also an opportunity for further questions.

The goal is the first thing. Both the athlete and coach need to know what they are working towards. Often times athletes will give a vague answer like “be better at hockey” or “get bigger.” These answers give the coach an opportunity to dig deeper. Ask “why?” and then ask it again and again until the goal becomes crystal clear.

After a couple of why’s the athlete says “I get pushed off the puck in the corner too often.” The coach can then speak to the athlete about getting bigger or getting stronger. Getting bigger may not prevent the athlete from getting pushed off the puck but getting stronger certainly will. The coach and athlete now have a goal that can be measured — the amount of weight on the bar.

Now that the goal is dialed in the coach can push further to determine the level of commitment the athlete has to their goal. If the athlete says whatever it takes the coach has carte blanche to build the ‘Perfect Program*.’ If the athlete says “I have one day a week for one hour” the coach then has to build a program that maximizes results in as little time as possible.

  • There is no such thing as the perfect program. Coaches often create what they believe to be the best program, call it Plan A, and then when things get started problems appear, and Plan B or C or D or… must be implemented.

The coach is now equipped with the goal and the level of commitment of the athlete but what is the athlete actually capable of doing? The coach can find this out through conversation, checklists, and most importantly watching how the athlete moves.

There are a number of assessment tools, screens and frameworks available to coaches. Start with simple movements related to their goal.

If they want to be faster ask the athlete to run. Forwards, backwards and laterally.

If they want to be more powerful ask the athlete to jump high. Then jump far. Then give them a ball and ask them to throw it.

If they want to be stronger ask the athlete to bend over and pick something up, squat as low as they can go, push themselves up from the floor and pull themselves up to a bar.

These three questions will give the coach everything they need to build a training program for an athlete.