My sophomore year in High School I took a careers test, like all of us have done. I was rather confused when my results came back and indicated that I would make a great air traffic controller. I thought that was about as far from what I wanted to do in life I quickly dismissed it. Looking back, that test couldn’t have been better suited for what was in store in my life as a high school strength and conditioning coach.
As it turns out, I AM an air traffic controller. I’m not clearing airplanes for landing and take offs but I am arranging for multiple sports teams to train in a common airspace all the time. I would even go so far as to illustrate that organizing training times is as big a job as it is training teams. In fact, most recently when I meet with interns looking to get into the field of strength and conditioning, and especially high school strength and conditioning, I asked these individuals to pay close attention to not only programming workouts, but also how to schedule. High school weight rooms more often than not are not built with the end goal in mind. In fact, my first weight room was the left over space the architects dedicated to a weight room after all else was accounted for. Simply put, organizing and arraigning training teams is a major component of the room.
Managing Gym Spaces Before and After School
During the school year the biggest factors in managing the facility are after school and before school, in that order. After school is the biggest conflict, and I have found that creating and using a Google doc is very beneficial. Sport coaches can look and see what the base schedule is and can talk to me about changes here and there. It is pretty common to allow in-season sports priority in a room based on practice schedules.
I have the luxury in my facility to break our room down into mini weight rooms. I will designate one side of the room for the football team, half of the other for other off-season teams, and a smaller area for general population training space. If in-season teams are coming in, they get first priority in the room. Thankfully in our model, most of our in-season teams come in after practice. This allows our off-season teams to train first and as they transition out, the in-season teams transition in.
Tips for Organizing Summer Training Programs
We are coming up on the summer training program and this time of the year is vital to scheduling. (I really do feel like an air traffic controller!) Here are a few helpful tips for efficiently managing summer training programs.
Train Your Largest Groups First, if possible. This often is the football team but I feel it is important to get the biggest group in and out first. The rest of the day gives particular attention to the other sports in conjunction with their sport specific time.
Grids and Rotation Efficiency. We, like a lot of other programs, grid out our time and train accordingly. While in the room it is very important to be on task and rotating thru the various movements with no wasted time. We utilize a countdown timer from Gopher Performance to keep us on task. We set the interval timer for x amounts of minutes and tell the athletes that they have a certain amount of minutes to get through the movements as efficiently as they can. The athletes are able to keep an eye on the clock, just as they do while in competition, and train accordingly. These rotations keep us on track and allow us to get through all of the prescribed movements without missing any aspects of the workout. Coaches are able to motivate and encourage the athletes as well just as in a sport practice setting.
Holding Yourself Accountable. Coaching note for those of your with sport coaches or just for yourself while in the room. I encourage coaches, and myself, to carry a stop watch while coaching. Every time you coach an athlete on something, start the stopwatch, then stop it while moving about the room, and restart when you get to the next athlete. I like the idea of being conscience of how much time we as coaches actually spend on coaching! Don’t just be a presence in the room, be a difference maker. Make as much impact and hold ourselves accountable for being present in the moment as well as just blowing a whistle and yelling rotate. I think it is important for us coaches to be mindful of our time on task with athletes just as much as it is important for them to be in the room training.
Summer Program Weight Room Sessions (1 Day)
Johnson is a graduate of Normandale Community College, Augsburg College and the University of Minnesota, playing football at both NCC and Augsburg. “RJ” teaches physical education at Wayzata High School and is the Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for Wayzata Public Schools, a position he began in 2000. Wayzata Athletics have captured 52 team state titles in histenure; Johnson works directly with the three-time state champion football program as Director of Operations and Player Development. He is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist as well as a Registered Strength and Conditioning Specialist – both certifications with Distinction and is the Minnesota NSCA State Director. NSCA awards include Minnesota High School Strength and Conditioning Professional of the Year 2010; State Director of the Year 2013; Strength of America Award 2015; and 2017 National High School Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year. In 2017 he became a founding Board Member of the National High School Strength Coaches Association (NHSSCA); and serves as a Regional Director for the organization. A former volunteer firefighter, he also received an Award of Merit from the Minnesota Department of Health and Safety for participation in a lifesaving CPR/AED effort to revive a player that suffered sudden cardiac arrest while at practice. Johnson is a frequent clinician, speaker, author and his Wayzata Trojan Power program has been visited by over 50 other high school and small college programs. He also volunteered his time in the Rockford School District where he and his wife and four children reside by serving as the Rockford Area Youth Athletic Association President and Youth Football Director.