Motivating Athletes

We’ve all had athletes that blew us away with their work ethic, and there are some famous cases of the best going above and beyond what is asked of them, striving for perfection. Jerry Rice was known for workouts hard enough to grind diamonds to dust, Tiger Woods ends every practice by making 100 consecutive 9’ putts (pretend you’re reading this in 2007), and Kobe Bryant…well if you don’t know about Kobe’s work ethic, you should be watching videos of him instead of reading this.
While these guys are great to have, unfortunately players with that level of dedication even more rare than players of their superior talent. So what do you do when you have an athlete brimming with potential, yet lacking in drive? While every athlete (and person, for that matter) requires a different method to be motivated, there are a few trends that seem to help almost all of the time. As coaches, it is our responsibility to get the best out of our athletes and motivate them to reach their potential. Here are a few tricks I’ve learned to help get the most out of your athletes:
1.     Be Involved – Athletes will work harder for a coach that shows an interest in them. I can’t tell you how many “coaches” I’ve seen that are just yelling clipboard-holders. Be a coach you would want to play for. This is easily the most important item on the list, achieve it and most everything else falls into place.
2.     Small Groups – Want to get a fire lit under in your players? Get them competing. Groups of 2-5 have always worked best for me, and be sure the best workers are mixed with the worst. Try not to have the hard workers overwhelmed with lazy ones, attitude is contagious, you want to spread the positive. As soon as the competitive juices get flowing, suddenly the effort goes up and the players take pride in what they do. Most importantly, they get better
3.     Let Them Dictate Their Work – It’s the end of conditioning. You’ve run them for 5 (of ten) 40 yd dashes and each time guys pull up before the finish. Then you say the magic words – “Run these two hard through and we’re done.” Wow, amazing how quickly they recovered. My solution – give them that option at the beginning. I’m not saying offer them reduced conditioning if they run them all hard, but that can work. Instead, let them decide the distance on their sprints – as far as they can go until they feel themselves slowing down. I call these “Effort Runs” and use them if I notice guys have been going at subpar effort for short sprints. By shifting the focus from distance to intensity, it changes the mindset of the athlete from trying to run this far, to running this HARD. These work well for sports focused on power (most of them) and would obviously need to be modified if the goal of the training session is something other than power, but it’s a useful tool to have.
4.     Make it Different – Baseball players love run wide receiver routes and catch passes. Football players want to get on the hardwood and play basketball. The list can go on and on, but the point is that even players who love their sport more than life enjoy variety. Granted, the metabolic demands may not sync up perfectly with their sport, but that’s a small price to pay to prevent mental fatigue and increase attentiveness.
5.     Curls (to Look Good) for the Girls – What’s the easiest way to get a team of male athletes to enjoy the weight room? Make their guns huge. While it may not be beneficial to the sport, athletes want to be able to flex in the mirror and see some vascularity and bulging muscles, even if it’s only for an hour. Toss in an old fashioned bodybuilder style superset at the end of the workout every so often and enjoy the positive energy that follows. Everything has a time and place, but be sure this doesn’t happen at the wrong one and impair performance during competition.
These are helpful tips, but it’s also important to recognize that sometimes, players are just worn down and need a break. Don’t be afraid to give an unscheduled day off if you notice an athlete who normally attacks workouts is dragging. See if it’s just grogginess and goes away with a good warm up, but if it doesn’t, send them home and get after it tomorrow. Gains happen during recovery and I’d rather give an athlete the day off than see him/her overtrain and have their performance suffer.
Let me know any tips you have for motivating your athletes or if you try any of these out. If I can ever be of assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
All the best,
Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW
480-241-4112
HenleySportsPerformance.blogspot.com
Twitter.com/DrewBHenley
 
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Introducing the Hybrid Model of Periodization

First off, I absolutely LOVE designing training programs for my athletes and think proper periodization is one of the most important factors in ensuring continued gains over the long term. When outlining a training program, the typical choice is usually between choosing a linear plan – progressing from one emphasis to another – or an undulating (non-linear) periodization which poses a different training goal each workout. Both methods have their places in a coach’s toolbox, but I believe there is another, better way to train. Introducing the Hybrid Model, which combines aspects of linear and non-linear periodization into a more effective and efficient work out plan.
Before I go into detail about the Hybrid Model, I’ll briefly explain the more common types of periodization. In a linear periodization, there is typically a progression from muscular endurance, advancing to hypertrophy, strength, and finishing with a power phase. I believe a linear plan is best used with younger or less trained athletes. It allows them a more comfortable transition  to heavy weights and complex movements, as well as providing more time to develop proper technique and muscular recruitment.
An undulating periodization is quite the opposite, with much less structure and more freedom at the hands of the coach and athlete. During season, this method has its benefits when used with better-trained athletes. The reason being that the type of workout (muscular endurance, strength, or power) is chosen immediately beforehand after establishing the athlete’s physical and mental state to determine which type of workout would be most beneficial. This freedom allows athletes to train harder when they are up for it, or pull back if need be, which can be beneficial during the course of a season.
Enter the Hybrid Model. Below is a program I designed for professional baseball players as their off-season training program. Workouts 1&3 were total body with a lower body emphasis, and workout 2 as a total body – upper body focus.
While each phase has a focus (commanding half of the total sessions), every training goal is addressed during each phase. This helps prevent losing any gains due to a prolonged period without a training emphasis, which is a common occurrence with a linear plan (such as maintaining hypertrophy gains during a power phase with much less volume).
Because the athletes using this program were relatively well-trained, General Conditioning workouts demand fewer sessions and serve more as recovery workouts. The players were young, in their late teens-early twenties, and many lacked ideal size and strength (though their power was above average usually). Because of these needs, hypertrophy and strength were the primary goals, each receiving 14 sessions, power as a secondary goal (12 sessions), and general conditioning serving as acclimation/recovery workouts (8 sessions).
Here’s a sample outline of the Hybrid Method:
Phase
Week
Workout 1
Workout 2
Workout 3
Phase 1
General
Conditioning
1.1
General
Hypertrophy
General
1.2
Strength
General
Hypertrophy
1.3
General
Power
General
1.4
Hypertrophy
General
Strength
Phase 2
Hypertrophy
2.1
Hypertrophy
Strength
Hypertrophy
2.2
Power
Hypertrophy
Strength
2.3
Hypertrophy
General
Hypertrophy
2.4
Strength
Hypertrophy
Power
Phase 3
Strength
3.1
Strength
Power
Strength
3.2
Hypertrophy
Strength
Power
3.3
Strength
Hypertrophy
Strength
3.4
Power
Strength
General
Phase 4
Power
4.1
Power
Hypertrophy
Power
4.2
Strength
Power
Hypertrophy
4.3
Power
Strength
Power
4.4
Hypertrophy
Power
Strength
By making three workouts for each goal (Hypertrophy Workout 1, Hypertrophy Workout 2, Hypertrophy Workout 3, Strength Workout 1, etc.), then plugging them into their corresponding places on the outline, you achieve a great amount of variability with an easy method of scheduling. To put that another way, the Hypertrophy Workout 1 in Phase 2, Week 3 is the same as in Phase 4, Week 4 (with greater loads, obviously). This allows a great amount of variety on a weekly basis, without the need to create new workouts each week. As you can see above, no two weeks of workouts are identical.
This is only one outline of a Hybrid Model Periodization, but it shows the potential and amount of flexibility available for coaches to manipulate to fit individual needs. The amount of workouts dedicated to any individual goal can easily be modified to meet the needs of specific athletes. Each phase can be lengthened, the number of workouts per week can be increased or decreased, and the specific training goals may be modified to suit the demands of the sport.
Any thoughts or comments are appreciated! Let me know how you would modify to train your athletes/teams, or if you’d like assistance in doing so.
All the best,
Drew Henley
DrewBHenley@gmail.com
480-241-4112
Twitter – @DrewBHenley
http://henleysportsperformance.blogspot.com/
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Important Resources

Here we go, time for the useful information to start. As I said in the last post, this blog will be composed of my own training thoughts and ideas, as well as pulling from a number of outside resources to provide a much more well-rounded experience.
As such, I’d like to provide you the following list of the sites/people I try to keep up with as they continually produce excellent work:
Alan Stein – blog.strongerteam.com
Eric Cressey – http://ericcressey.com/blog
Mike Robertson – http://robertsontrainingsystems.com/blog
T-Nation – http://www.t-nation.com/
Mike Boyle – http://strengthcoachblog.com
Drew Henley – http://henleysportsperformance.blogspot.com/
(shameless plug)
Now, I’m not saying I agree with everything all these guys write, or that this is anywhere close to a complete list of where to go for information, but these are who I check on daily because they put out excellent work. This isn’t including the countless books, journal articles, and twitter links I go through any given day, but if you’re lounging around and have your computer handy, these guys are definitely worth a look, I’m sure you’ll find something to incorporate into your training or practice time.
As I am sure I missed several great resources, PLEASE let me know who else out there I should all be checking regularly. None of us are ever too good/smart we can’t get better or learn more.
“There is no knowledge that is not power.” – unknown
Drew Henley
DrewBHenley@gmail.com
480-241-4112
Twitter – @DrewBHenley
http://henleysportsperformance.blogspot.com/
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Starting Off

Alright, so I’ve finally given in and created this blog to hopefully help fellow strength and conditioning coaches find useful resources that are scattered all over the place, as well as provide my own insight towards any topic that may come up.
A little about me (for those of you who don’t know), I’m a strength & conditioning coach based in Phoenix, AZ and have had the fortune of learning from some great mentors including Alan Stein of StrongerTeam.com, Brett Fischer of Fischer Sports, Frank Renner – Minor League Strength & Conditioning Coordinator for the Houston Astros, and Dr. Gene Coleman, the father of baseball strength & conditioning. This is an incomplete list obviously, as I try to learn something from everyone I meet, whether they’re fellow S&C coaches, physical therapists, ATCs, or the athletes themselves, and read everything I can get my hands on (more on that in my next post).
Anyways, the purpose of this blog isn’t to say I am the foremost authority on…well, anything really. My goal is to provide fellow coaches and their athlete’s with as much knowledge as I can, express my stance and point of view on training ideas, and attempt to gather and provide as many outside voices and resources as possible. I will NEVER say “Do this…no matter what…because I said so.” That’s an important point for me so let me reiterate, I will NEVER say “Do this…no matter what…because I said so.” I am merely offering ideas, tools for your toolbox if you will. What you choose to do with them is up to you, and as we all know, not everything works for everybody. As for the last part, if you can’t explain your reasoning for doing a specific lift/drill/exercise/etc., then you probably shouldn’t be doing that exercise. Everything I do with my athletes has a purpose, and I explain it to them so they know this is why we do what we do.
Thanks for taking the time to read this introduction, I promise more useful information in the posts to come. I will be following up with another post including a few of my training principles, as well as a few of the sites and places I find useful information.
Any questions, feel free to email me at DrewBHenley @gmail.com, or call/text me at 480-241-4112.
– Drew Henley
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