It is 2021 and I Nonetheless Handwrite My Coaching Applications. This is Why


Programming is an artwork type; there’s little question about it. An individual who demonstrates sharp instincts, flexibility, and creativity in a finely-tuned program is a proficient coach/coach. Many people coaches get slowed down in programs and software program. Plugging train A right here and train B in there can maybe add comfort, however the artwork type will get misplaced.

The strategies that labored like a appeal 10 years in the past are relics by right this moment’s requirements. Instructing strategies and coaches are evolving, as are the cookie-cutter software program packages. In lots of respects, the comfort of those packages is price its weight in gold. However are we dropping among the magic once we do it this manner?

Coach Chris Holder explaining his program to an athlete
Photograph courtesy of Chris Holder

My Teaching Historical past

I can’t converse for all coaches as a result of I don’t know what they’re up towards. My story is a little bit of an uncommon one for a college strength coach. I paid my teaching dues in a singular manner. I began at Japanese Kentucky College as an intern within the spring semester of 2000. Six weeks into my internship, my Head Power Coach, Mike Kent, took the pinnacle job on the College of Louisville and needed to go away. Due to the relative newness of his place at EKU, the administration was unprepared and requested me to fill in till a search may very well be carried out for Coach Kent’s alternative. I labored for 3 months alone, making an attempt to maintain an athletic division strength program afloat.

Some of the troublesome duties whereas filling in for him was programming the best way he programmed. Get this: Kent wrote out each particular person program by hand. Every crew would have both one sheet or a sequence of sheets that might carry that crew for a month or two. He created every plan in Excel, the place the workout routines can be constructed into the framework of the sheet. Then he would spend his weekend hand-programming loads for every athlete over the scope of the whole athletic division. One crimson pen, adopted by hours and hours of labor. Kent’s meticulous programming ensured each athlete acquired the extent of particular person consideration that he felt they wanted.

The Distinction Between Sheets and White Boards

The coach-athlete relationship is an fascinating one. When it comes to compliance, athletes are mandated to point out up whether or not they prefer it or not, they usually don’t have a say of their programming. In case you are a non-public coach or own a gym/box, your shoppers have extra say. However one factor shines clear in all settings — the folks coaching in your area need to really feel like they’re being given their due consideration, not simply as members of a gaggle however as people.

There are just a few situations the place utilizing a whiteboard is appropriate in my facility. More often than not, we use whiteboards once we are educating. After we are attempting to get methods dialed in and the place hundreds usually are not essentially a precedence, the primary month or so is a good time to depend on a whiteboard. Once more, in my state of affairs, which could be very particular, we may even hold a crew on the whiteboard if the crew members usually are not displaying a stage of dedication. Let’s face it, no one on campus takes weight training as severely as I do, and there are some groups who “undergo the motions.” I counsel my assistants to behave accordingly. There’s no have to commit hours and hours of programming for a team that won’t give a suitable effort.

Team of athletes lifting weights together in a gym
Sydra Productions/Shutterstock

Once more, I perceive that in a CrossFit box, most clientele will be transient and never as constant as a school crew that’s required to point out up. That makes the individuality piece extra of a headache because you don’t know the following time your shoppers will present up. However nothing tells your shoppers you’re all in with them, like handing them every a sheet with their title on it. It’s a easy gesture that speaks volumes about your dedication to their progress. Sure, it may be time-consuming, however it will also be a distinction between a lackluster effort and a herculean one.

Laptop Programming Vs. Hand Programming

I’ve by no means used a pc to run percentages for one in all my packages. I’ve at all times performed it by hand. And truthfully, I’ve by no means used a set proportion to assign hundreds aside from deciding hundreds for the start of a hypertrophy cycle based mostly on a newly minted one-rep max. The strategy I exploit is one which Coach Kent taught me, and it’s based mostly on that methodology’s pure evolution after 16 years of doing it that manner.

Laptop programming based on percentages, to me, makes some fairly daring assumptions all through a training cycle. First off, in the event you use a linear method as I do, you in all probability write for eight to 12 weeks at a time. If I write a twelve-week hypertrophy/strength/power program for a soccer participant, code the weeks with prescribed percentages, after which faucet in a one-rep max to be our baseline for the chances, I’m asking the athletes to be excellent with their nutrition, their relaxation, their effort — always. And let’s face it, none of them are. It’s almost unattainable for an individual to be that dialed-in the entire time.

Man curls barbell while another man coaches him through the rep
Body Inventory Footage/Shutterstock

Hand programming provides me a number of benefits that a pc won’t ever present. First, despite the fact that I exploit what seems like an algebraic method in my head to find out hundreds, I get the flexibleness to regulate on the fly. You want that flexibility when Joe Blow rolls his ankle the Friday prior. Hand programming provides me an out after I understand that the entire crew is about to bonk, and an impromptu deload week is what is required. It permits me (or forces me, actually) to get a whole learn on every particular person and holds my ass to the fireplace to remain engaged with every of my athletes. You possibly can ask me at any time of a coaching cycle what the burden on so-and-so’s bench is on his second set, and 99 out of 100 occasions, I’ll know what’s happening.

How I Program

In the event you had been to observe me program, that is what it could appear to be: I’ve a stack of sheets, and every one will get the signature “pause and assume.” I’ve to have a look at the athlete’s title and shortly assessment and bear in mind what this individual did final week. Then the writing begins. I’ll program a sheet twice every week in some coaching phases, as soon as for the primary half, then as soon as for the second. It retains me as present as potential for every particular person.

Relating to teaching, I’m promoting an concept. I’m promoting a method. I’m asking my athletes to have full religion in me as I make choices for them. The way in which I function provides my athletes full freedom to not assume. They arrive in, and their job is to be focused and present and, most significantly, ready to perform. I do all of the pondering for them days earlier, to allow them to simply are available and kick ass.

Hand programming is a part of that. If I hand you a sheet of computer-printed numbers, it’ll excite you as a lot as combing your hair or placing mustard in your sandwich. However after I offer you a sheet with my handwriting on it, it’s best to see somebody who’s partnered with you. The handwriting tells the athletes I’ve taken the time to consider them day-after-day of each week.

Featured Picture: Chris Holder



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