I had a father of one of our athletes stop me last week to ask me a question.  He said that their soccer coach was having a parent meeting to discuss the offseason work they were going to be doing soon.  This was including the plan on offseason lifting.

This father wanted to know what questions he should ask at this meeting about the lifting.  His son has done some lifting with us for his speed work, but overall he really doesn’t have much experience.  Being that his son also hasn’t come in to full swing with puberty yet, he just wanted to make sure this would be something beneficial to his boy and SAFE.

I liked this question and I gave him my thoughts.  I am sure we have a lot of parents of high schoolers who are in this same situation.  I myself will have a high schooler next year, so these will be the questions that I will be posing to the coach about any offseason work that includes weights.

  • Does your team have a strength coach conducting these workouts or is it run by one of the sport coaches?  I was a strength coach at a high school for 4 ½ years so I know there is a difference between a program that is created by a strength coach who has training in this and a sport coach who got this routine off of the internet.  

  • If it isn’t being taught by a strength coach then what is the background of the sport coach in regards to lifting?  Technique is the #1 priority for incoming freshmen.  If this coach doesn’t know the safe and correct technique for a lot of lifts, then I don’t want him (or her) working with my child.

  • If it is being run by a strength coach, how many athletes will he be watching over in one session?  This is important.  I was a strength coach at a small school, but even when there got to be about 20 kids in the weight room, it started to get a little tricky watching technique on these athletes.  Making sure they weren’t goofing off, etc.  Will the strength coach have some assistants or interns?  And please don’t tell me that the upper classmen are going to help the lower classmen.  That is a recipe for disaster, TRUST ME!!

  • Is it mandatory or can my child do an outside training program?  Nowadays, I think this is a fair question.  When I was a strength coach, I didn’t like the question, but it is fair.  Especially if there are 40-50 kids on the team, your athlete might be better served utilizing an outside speed and strength program.  The athlete can still participate in open fields/gyms, conditioning, camps, etc., but do the personalized training away from the school.  As long as the kid shows up in great shape, the coach shouldn’t care.  Unless the ego is so big and playing time will be negatively affected as a result, then you might be screwed.

  • Will this be consistent or eventually will it be forgotten by the coach?  Some coaches have the best intentions with this offseason work, but sometimes they just forget about the training to get more practice in.  Or they start off twice a week, then back down once a week.  If they can’t get in at least three months going minimum twice a week of consistent lifting, then this won’t be worth it.  A waste of time.

I think these are fair questions to ask.  I know that each coach wants to build their culture and do what is best for the athletes.  Sometimes though the best intentions can’t be served with the resources that are available.  

You as a parent need to make a decision if this offseason lifting will be worth it or not.  If not, then what can you do to not agitate the coach and possibly the teammates to achieve ultimately what you want to achieve…be the best athlete that you can be.

Photo courtesy of USAG – Humphrey’s on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usaghumphreys/