July is coming to an end and at our place of employment that means we need to write our end-of-year weight program evaluations. I never have been able to figure out why July is the “end of the year,” but that is a discussion for another time. Since evaluation is on my mind, now is a good time to talk about how to evaluate and review programs in preparation for fall teams.

Although we set a specific time for writing evaluations, the reality is that evaluation is a continuum. Every program I have ever written was the best program ever! That is until I saw it in action and then I realized very quickly that I may need to make some adjustments. I do have the tendency to keep all of my programs so I can look back and see how they have changed or stayed the same. There are some programs I look at now and think, “what the heck were you thinking?” but often this is gained through simple experience.

Writing a New Program

When beginning the process of writing a new program for the upcoming season, I look back at the previous years program and think, “Did this accomplish everything we wanted?”  Yes, there is always more that we want, but if you take football as an example, did the program do some or all the following:

  1. Did strength levels of most of the athletes increase?  If so in how many areas? What did the data tell us, (if we tested)? 
  2. If you tested mobility, did it improve for most athletes? 
  3. Were there any injuries occurring during the lift itself, or if it is an in-season workout, where there injuries that occurred on the field of play that we need to modify workouts for?
  4. Did the workout achieve any other goals that were either specific needs or ancillary successes?

Some or all of these may seem like obvious questions, but you really have to look at each one independently and in a holistic way. You need to be able to strike the balance of meeting the goals of the individual, and the team. This needs to be built in the timeframe you have available and with the facility, sometimes the lack there of, that you have. 

Does the “Perfect” Program Exist?

There is no program out there that anyone can point to and say, “I have designed the perfect program.” This is simply because each of us faces slightly different circumstances and challenges that need to be accounted for in the way that best fits us. 

However, I strongly believe that a good program is grounded in strength and power movements. In my world, I am talking about squatting, (front and back), cleans, pressing, etc. Even at the collegiate level, many of our athletes do not have the strength base they need to achieve optimal performance.

All of us want to watch what the long-time professional football player is doing in his program and assume that, “if it’s good for him, it must be good for us.” But this is absolutely not true. High school and most college athletes are a million miles apart from a 10-year veteran. He likely has built his strength through the years and is now trying to keep his body together to get as many years in his profession as possible. There are a few exceptions out there, but the vast majority do a program that is just not suited for younger far less experienced lifters.

Weight program evaluation will look a little different for each of us. I have found it a great learning experience and the information has continued to positively impact my teams, and their programming needs.