Culture is key in developing a strength and conditioning program

By Hunter Glascock, CSCS, UASW L1

In most situations, your job is not a new position; someone has held that position before. In the world of strength & conditioning many high school programs have relied heavily on sport coaches to run the weight room for their teams. It is our job as strength coaches to cultivate the good and eliminate the bad aspects from a culture that has been created based on the beliefs, attitudes, and experiences from previous coaches. I believe that by setting expectations, educating/providing purpose, and building relationships you can create an environment needed to cultivate a successful culture.

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The first step in cultivating a successful culture is to lay out the expectations for everyone inside the organization including the strength coach. Expectations are created to help athletes reach success in the weight room, classroom, and in everyday life. The first day of our summer program I hand out a packet to each athlete that includes contact information, facility rules, and expectations. Each athlete is expected to show up on time, give their best effort, have a positive attitude, and be coachable.

Not only do these expectations help the athletes reach their full potential, they also help set the foundation of the culture being created.

Educate

Growing up I’m sure everyone remembers a time when asking a question where someone answered with “Because I said so”. I have always encouraged my athletes to ask if they have a question or if something doesn’t make sense. In most cases the person asking the question isn’t the only one who is looking for an answer. Not only is this a great opportunity to educate the athletes you work with, it’s also a great tool to make sure everything you prescribe has a purpose. If your administration, sport coaches, and athletes are all educated on the purpose it promotes an environment to cultivate the culture.

Building Relationships

I have always believed that trust and respect is earned, not given. One of the many challenges I faced as a young strength coach is earning that trust and respect from the sport coaches and athletes during my first year. I think one of the most important aspects in building a relationship is knowing their name. I make it a priority each session to call athletes by their name and ask how their day is going. After a while instead of getting a one word answer such as “good” or “okay” they begin to open up and before you know it you have 10 different handshakes/fist bump variations you have to remember. Building that relationship with the athletes is by far the greatest reward as a strength coach. As athletes begin to trust you they start to see progress and success in the weight room and weight room success reinforces the culture that has been established.

Conclusion

Culture isn’t something that can be obtained and forgotten about once you get there. Cultivating the culture requires patience, hard work, and consistent application over a long period of time. Creating expectations for your athletes, educating the purpose, and building relationships with your athletes are all valuable tools I believe are essential to cultivating a successful culture. The journey you take in cultivating the culture is a very challenging experience, but the relationships you build and seeing athletes succeed is a very rewarding experience.