If there's one huge spot where a lot of throws coaches need to improve their daily practices it is how much time they are spending in the weight room.
As you have probably already seen both on this website and on the YouTube channel, I do a lot of coaching and video analysis for athletes all around the world. What you may not know is that I also consult with a lot of high school and college coaches helping to streamline their practices to make them more efficient so they can spend more time coaching.
Let's face it, a 3 hour practice is pretty terrible. It can get even more terrible when you realize 20 minutes of it is a worthless team warm-up (jog 2 laps and static stretching) and another 20 minutes is the head coach yammering away about things that really don't have anything to do with you or your throwers. Now add to that some coaches who have their athletes in the weight room 1 hour a day, 4 days a week and you have the ingredients for a really long, boring, terrible practice.
No wonder why some coaches think they don't have enough time to actually coach!
There's absolutely no reason why you should have your athletes in the weight room 4 hours every week. I don't even know how it is possible! When you take into account track meets that happen during the week, track meets that happen on the weekends, bad weather, school vacations, kids being sick, etc. why waste the time when you could be teaching the throwing events.
You know...the ACTUAL SPECIFIC COACHING FOR THE EVENTS YOUR ATHLETES COMPETE IN!!
No use having a 400 pound squat and a 30 foot throw.
(The Last Set of Bench Press on Your 4th Day in the Weight Room this week)
Instead try to streamline your weight training to maximize your time in the weight room and actually spend more time outside practicing the throwing events. Check out the video below where I critique a weight training plan from a throws coach from California.
So if you feel like you are one of these coaches, here are some strategies to streamline your time in the weight room:
Return on Investment - Only choose exercises that will give you the most bang for your buck. Compound movements are king. Compound movements utilize multiple muscle groups in the same exercise. Some favorites are squats, bench press, deadlifts, cleans, overhead presses, push ups, pull ups, barbell and dumbbell rows, and lunges. Try to avoid isolation exercises like bicep curls, calf raises, lateral raises, and machines that lock the body in place to isolate a single joint.
Use Your Weight Room - This might seem like a no-brainer, but use what you've got. Say you've got a row of dumbbells in your weight room from 5 pounds all the way up to 100 pounds and 4 adjustable flat to incline benches. You also have one chest press machine. What are you going to program for your team? Dumbbell bench press or the chest press machine? Do you want your entire team waiting in line to use one machine or do you want your team to split up into 4 groups and bang through some dumbbell presses and get it over with? Pretty easy decision. I see this a lot with Olympic lifts and their variations. You've got 40 throwers and one lifting platform and one set of bumper plates. Would you rather the entire team wait in line to use that one platform or should you maybe do a variation like a dumbbell clean, dumbbell clean and press, dumbbell snatch, push press, etc? Use what is available to you.
Choose Exercises You Can Easily Teach - In addition to choosing exercises that give you the biggest return on your investment, make sure you also choose exercises that you can teach quickly and easily. There are so many internet arguments about exercise selection. What's better, flat bench press or incline bench press? What's better, a back squat or a front squat? Who cares? As long as the athletes are getting bigger and stronger! What matters most is which exercises can you teach the quickest and the easiest. This is why I love touch-and-go box squats. Squat down until your butt hits the box and stand up. No need to teach proper depth, stand there grilling your kids about getting lower, etc. Squat down until you feel the box and stand up.
Bigger Movements First - Make sure to put the more taxing, more difficult compound exercises first in the workout. Take a look at the exercises below. These are typical exercises you might see in a training session in a high school weight room.
Lying Leg Raises
Now, put these in the correct order. Start with the most taxing exercise first. Here's how I would do it:
Lying Leg Raises
Barbell squats are going to be the heaviest movement of the day, typically have the highest amount of sets and repetitions, and will tax your athletes the most. Do this exercise first. Follow this up with another lower body movement like bodyweight lunges. From there, rows using a TRX or some other type of suspension setup and finally the leg raises. Move from heavy to light, difficult to easy, most volume to the least volume. However you do it, don't put the most taxing and strenuous exercises in the middle or at the end of the workout when your athletes are already fatigued.
Avoid Your Track Meets - I have spoken about this plenty of times in blog posts and in videos on the YouTube channel. Try to avoid training close to your bigger track meets. If you have a big invitational on Saturday, don't lift on Thursday and Friday. Instead, try to lift on Monday and Wednesday. This leaves a day between sessions to rest and recover (and practice the throws) and two days between the Wednesday weight room session and the Saturday meet (more time to recover and practice the throws). Have a dinky little dual meet on Tuesday and a big meet on Saturday. Who cares about the dual meet? Still lift on Monday and Wednesday.
Dual meets are just a glorified practice with other teams there <---------------------------- Sorry this had to be said!
If you can abide by these rules, your weight room sessions will be a fantastic experience for your squad and you will see great results from your throwers. They will be stronger, more rested, and actually throwing farther because they have more time to practice their events. You may not be able to shut the head coach up during his 20 minute team meeting/announcements every practice but at least you free up some more time to actually PRACTICE THE EVENTS!
As always...THROW FAR!!
Coach Matt Ellis