Year: 2012

Changing of the Seasons

With winter break in full swing, many college athletes are either in the middle of their competitive season, or preparing for what is to come in the spring. Most of my current athletes are spring-season sports (such as baseball, tennis, etc.) and will be returning to school not only for classes, but preseason practices and training.

I came across an interesting article on Sports Medicine Research regarding injury rates during practice for collegiate sports, comparing pre-season, in-season, and post-season, as well as when during the calendar year (fall sports versus winter and spring sports). You can find the information here, and I highly recommend it for all coaches working with college athletes or teams. There are two key points I want to highlight:

  • Pre-season injury rates were nearly three times as high as in-season. I can tell you from my experience, too many athletes skip their off-season work and expect pre-season to get them into shape and prepared. However, going from no activity to pre-season workload often results in overtraining, overuse injuries, or even a surprise cut from the roster. Work hard in the off-season so you’ll be prepared for the grind of sport-specific work that comes in-season.
  • Fall sports have a much higher rate of injury than winter and spring sports (with the latter having the lowest incidence rate of the three). This coincides with my above point – off-season work is necessary to help reduce risk of injury during in-season training. Since this study focused exclusively on college sports, it makes sense that spring sports – teams that have an entire semester on campus to get work in before their season – would have the lowest injury rates. Granted, football plays a big role in this discrepancy, but I can’t help but feel the insufficient pre-season time on campus plays a role.

As you prepare your athletes for the upcoming semester, recognize that some are likely to be green and unprepared for the rigors of training. Whether you want to pamper them or put them through hell week as a reminder to stay on top of things during break, that is for each coach to decide based on their philosophy and athletes. As I mentioned before, almost all of my athletes compete during the spring season, so I have had several weeks of off-season training with them. We concluded with several performance tests, not only to mark their improvements, but to hold them accountable for their work over break. This sense of accountability, to themselves, to their teammates, and their program, is far more motivational than any words I could speak. They busted their tails off, and I reminded them how easily it could all go away if they were to take this month off.

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

All the best,

Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, CES


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HSP on

Well, it took a few months, but I finally had my first article run on Michael Boyle’s If you are a fan of the HSP Facebook page (which you can like it at, and a member of,  you were able to see the article, and now I would like to share it with everyone: The Other Roles of Being a Strength & Conditioning Coach (from

Being a strength & conditioning coach in a team setting carries far more responsibility than simply writing workouts and teaching exercise technique. There are several ways you are called upon to help your athletes, coaches, and teams other than making them stronger, faster, and more powerful. For all of the importance put into certifications and advanced degrees, interpersonal skills are an indispensible trait in a successful coach. Below are ten of the different responsibilities I have taken on over the course of my career that have proven more useful than most of my training ability.

Counselor – Athletes have their ups and downs like the rest of us, the only difference is how much harder it is for them to handle them. They might be having relationship trouble, lost a loved one, struggling on the field, or any of a thousand other possibilities, and still be expected to perform. We all know the importance of a strong mentality to succeed in sports, and being rattled could cost these players playing time, a scholarship, or even their job. As strength & conditioning coaches, we see these athletes in a different atmosphere than their sport coaches or ATCs, and it is important to recognize when to pull an athlete aside and let them vent or do whatever they need to get their mind right.

Mentor – Most athletes I have worked with have been younger than me, but age seems to matter less than I originally thought. I have had athletes ten years older than me ask for my advice on matters far beyond my expertise, or change their habits due a conversation we had. For example, I had an athlete who was 8 years older than me ask if he should propose to his girlfriend (who I had met a few times). I’m not married, or even in a serious relationship for that matter, and here he is asking me about one of the biggest decisions of his life. (I used a trick I learned and said, “You know the answer I’m going to say and the answer you want to hear, so why are you asking?” He proposed, and they recently celebrated their two-year anniversary and the birth of their first child.)

Motivator – This is obvious in the weight room when an athlete is going through the motions, but also carries over to the field/court/etc. The head coach and assistants may be too busy with game responsibilities to light a fire under an athlete who is slacking.

Middleman – As mentioned in #2, we see athletes in a different setting than their other coaches and listen to both sides of any story brewing between players and staff. Hearing the message the coach wants the player to understand, and then being able to convey it to the athlete is a skill that comes with time. Likewise, every athlete has an aversion to the training room and fears being shut down, so it’s important to make note of any little issues players mention and discuss them with the medical staff.

Buffer/Bouncer – Depending on the level, some fans will be determined to get the attention of your athletes. Be sure you do what you need to do to allow your athletes to remain focused on the task at hand. If that’s getting to the locker room for an ice pack or finish their conditioning, it’s ok to tell fans to wait until later for an autograph or picture.

Gopher Guy – This is more for your coaching staff and athletic trainers. In most settings, S&C coaches are the bottom rung on the Totem pole. As such, you can either alienate or endear yourself to your staff by doing any and everything needed to make their jobs easier. Working in pro baseball, once the first pitch was thrown my day was essentially done. If the coaching staff needed their jackets from the clubhouse and couldn’t reach the clubhouse manager, I was making a mad dash down the foul line between innings. In college sports, with NCAA sanctions, coaches are limited in their interactions with athletes so they like to know how the effort when they aren’t around. Even when I was working at the high school level (as an assistant basketball coach/head S&C coach), it was up to me to write up practice plans, round up players for film, and contact parents if something changed with a tournament schedule.

Comedian/Mood Breaker – Things get tense, and sometimes that can spiral into something terrible. Let’s be honest, the head coach and athletes have far more riding on their shoulders (i.e. receive more criticism when things go bad) than the strength staff, so they can easily lose sight of the fact they are living the dream. They are athletes/coaches doing what they love, possibly getting an education or even paid to do it. Being able to lighten the mood is a huge help in breaking a slump.

Drill Sergeant – On the flip side, sometimes athletes need a swift kick to the backside if they aren’t taking things seriously enough. This can fall under your duties to the head coach, as he or she may be too furious to deal with the frustration of lackadaisical players. It’s important for athletes to have short memories when it comes to losing, but to not feel anything is a fast track to failure. Remind them why they are competing, take it seriously, or step aside because there are others out there who will gladly take their place.

Mediator – Athletes have egos, and sometimes egos clash. Having a cool head and a strong presence can help athletes see through their differences and remember they are teammates playing for the same cause. This isn’t strictly for strength coaches, but I’ve had to handle it more than I ever expected.

Enforcer – This is another responsibility bestowed by the coaching/medical staff.  Curfew check? Sure, I’ll go around the hotel at midnight to make sure grown men are behaving themselves. Someone needs to get treatment NOW? Ok, I’ll slap the sandwich out of his hand and drag him by the ear to the training room (don’t do that, it ends poorly). You get the picture, often times strength & conditioning coaches are the coaching staff muscle (rightfully so, I don’t see many anorexic strength coaches) and get asked to use it occasionally.

As you can see, your responsibilities as a strength & conditioning coach reach far beyond the confines of the weight room. It can be daunting, but at the same time incredibly rewarding. Make sure you recognize the importance of connecting with your athletes and coaches as best you can to make these additional responsibilities as smooth as possible.

I would like to thank everyone who has visited the site, as last week we broke 10,000 views and continue to grow. Thank you for your support and I hope you have enjoyed the content. If there is ever anything I can do to help you or your program, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

All the best,

Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, CES

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New Articles up on STACK

Sorry for the lack of posts this week everyone, I just accepted a new position and need to move across the country in three days, so things have been chaotic and likely will be for the next month or so.

Fortunately, I have two new articles up on STACK that I think you will enjoy, both on program design and getting freakin’ huge and terrifyingly strong (both scientific terms, by the way). In addition, I mentioned it last week, but I have put together an ebook of motivational quotes across a handful of categories, available at Smashwords. It is completely free, downloadable in a wide variety of formats (depending on your ereader, or can be read as a PDF), there are no advertisements and I don’t make anything money from it. Most of the words in it aren’t mine, so why charge? I use quotes daily (which you know if you follow me on Twitter), and have had a lot of requests for my quotes list, so there it is. You can download it here, and again, it is completely free with no ads or need to sign up for a Henley Sports Performance email list or anything.
Now, back to sports performance – here are the two newest articles I put up on STACK (with a third awaiting approval).

Bulk Up and Get Strong During the Off-Season

This article provides a 4 day/week training program that will build you up pretty quickly and help you break through any strength plateaus. Due to the word count limit, I couldn’t expand too much on it, so if you have questions feel free to email me and I’ll help you out.

Build Muscle with this Off-Season Baseball Program

This is another off-season program, only geared specifically to baseball players enjoying their time off (unless they’re playing fall ball or in the bigs). Slightly different, less intensity and a little more volume and a total body training format. Again, if you need more clarification, feel free to contact me via email, call, Twitter, or text.
Check out the articles and programs, if you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to contact me.

All the best,

Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, CES

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Weekly Workout Checklist – Are Your Workouts Complete?

Are you sure you have a well-rounded program? Most people don’t, whether by avoiding legs, back, or bench (just kidding), and they never really think too much about it. Here is a simple checklist to make sure you’re training is varied enough to allow progress.

As you can guess, many exercises can count towards multiple categories. For example, Chin Ups would get marks in vertical pull, double arm pull, core anti-movement, and bodyweight movement (depending on your definition or execution, you could make a case for them to be a loaded hold as well). The point of the checklist isn’t to do an exercise dedicated to each category, but to make sure you’re hitting the body in a variety of ways.

Unless you are on a bodybuilding type split, dedicating workouts to a single muscle or movement, it’s unlikely you would need a full training week to fill each category, in fact, it’s pretty easy to meet all of the requirements in a single workout in only a few lifts. However, if you like upper-lower or chest/tris/shoulders-back/bis-legs/core splits, this can help give you some new goals to shoot for. Make sure you’re working in some single limb exercises for added stabilization. Yes, you will make it easier on the prime movers of an exercise (I’ve never met anyone who could dumbbell bench the same as their barbell bench, but some have been close), but that’s not the goal. By incorporating the stabilizer muscles more, you can improve your strength numbers and reduce the likelihood of an injury.

I include ankle and hip mobility/AIS stretching because I think they are the two joints most in need of increased mobility. These are great to do as intraset rest work/active recovery.

The only downside to a checklist like this is everything is weighted equally. That will be addressed with another post, because it is important to include rep variations, heavy and light days, more pulling than pressing, etc. This chart is just a starting point to make sure you are hitting the core areas properly.

Also, if you missed the last post, I have put together a free ebook of inspirational quotes, available here. Please give it a look and if you like it, share it with anyone else who may enjoy it. Let me know any comments or questions you have. As always, if I can ever help you or your program in any way, please feel free to contact me.

All the best,

Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, CES

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Inspirational Quotes – FREE EBook

As many of you are aware, I am a big fan of quotes and love having a quote board in my gym. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I try to put up a couple of my favorites each day. Well, today I did something better. I put together an entire ebook of over 200 quotes on success, motivation, effort, adversity, and mindset. The best part is the entire collection is completely free – no signing up for a newsletter, no advertisements in the pages, just download the document in whatever format works for your ereader (actually, you may need to create an account on smashwords, but that’s free as well). It is compatible with iPad, Kindle, Nook, and can even be viewed as a PDF or webpage.

This was all possible thanks to the free services at and I owe them a lot of thanks for simplifying the process. This is a trial run before putting together an ebook of training ideas and programs, which I hope to finish by the end of the year. Again, if you enjoy motivational quotes, please visit Smashwords or click here to download your free copy. If you enjoy it, I ask that you please rate it on the site and share it with friends, family, or anyone you feel will appreciate it.

Thank you,

Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW

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