Off-Season Roadmap – How Commitment Drives Results

Coaches love boasting about their off-season. It is the classic post about commitment like, ‘We had 60 Off-Season Athletes show up before school and get better today!” Or the celebratory results post like, “Check out Jimmy hitting his new PR. Big things to come with the way he is working this off-season.” 

But how do we get the commitment and results worth boasting about? We talked to veteran strength coach Jeff Lindeman about the keys to continual off-season success.

Meet The Coach

Jeff Lindeman
Jeff Lindeman, CSCS, is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Loyola Academy in Illinois.
Jeff is recognized as a PLT4M Coaches Club Ambassador and is featured in “How a Nationally Ranked High School Trains It’s High School Athletes.” 

Q: As a veteran coach, what is one of the most frequently asked questions you get from other coaches looking to build a strength and conditioning program? 

A: One of the biggest focuses is the off-season and weight room. People always ask me how do you build commitment among athletes in the off-season? 

For us we have upwards of 60-70 athletes in the weight room at a time which is awesome! That has to come from a tradition and set of expectations set by the coach. Then it is carried about by the team. 

Q:  How do you see that off-season tradition growing year over year with the teams you work with? 

A: The freshmen who first got their feet wet are now thinking about sophomore year.

The sophomores feel that they were growing and starting to see results. Now they look at the weight room as the place to develop into upperclassmen. 

For juniors, the off-season is going to be one of their last chances to get better before senior year. It almost becomes a right of passage to start owning and leading the weight room.

Year over year, tradition and commitment are built as the athletes see results at different levels.  

Q: What type of results do you think the kids are drawn to most? 

A: For some, results are as simple as looking in the mirror.  They look and can see that they are getting bigger or stronger. Others are just excited to see maybe some flab turn into muscle. 

And then the numbers and graphs we use with PLT4M go a long way. They see improvement through ‘worksets’ week over week and know that what they are doing is having a big impact. A lot of times a traditional max day is a stressful time and not everyone improves as much as they want. I love using ‘worksets’ because it helps everyone see results. 

Q: A lot of PLT4M programs use a ‘workset’ on the final set, but you do things a little differently with your programming that you like to use. How do you like to use the ‘workset’? 

A: So I have the ‘worksets’ programmed on the three final sets. For example, after warming up we do a lot of 3-5-7 or 4-6-8 rep schemes. Each of those 3 main sets will allow them to check-in. 

The whole idea is that the athlete’s max can only go up if they hit all the reps on all 3 sets. If at some point in the 3 sets the athlete cannot hit all the reps, they might go down by 5 pounds or stay the same for that week.

Because of worksets we are able to take the guess work out of what weights athletes should be doing.

Q: Why do you like the ‘workset’ approach?

A: Kids have so much on their plates. They are bombarded with the stress of social pressures, parents, academics, and just thinking about what comes next. You might not get the whole picture of where people are at, because it just might not be some people’s day. 

With ‘worksets’ you can get that more continual feedback through the app and do it without the stress. We have seen so much progress and gains from doing it this way. We are able to use these ‘worksets’ across all our core lifts.

Kids get excited about them each week and I do not have to go crazy over trying to update everything on my own. You know, it is not like college strength programs where you have tons of coaches in the room guiding athletes through every step of the way. It has made the off- season simple but effective. 

Q: And with this style of worksets and training have you changed anything over the years? 

A: At first, I did not use the workset with cleans. I just avoided it and kept it simple with typical percentage based sets. 

 After talking with some other coaches, I was willing to give it a shot. And I was not disappointed. I saw athletes jump up dramatically. Even my son, who is a junior, is up over a 300 pound clean. 

And let me be clear on that, if it is ugly it does not count. That goes for any lift and any athlete. You have to be able to perform things cleanly. It is part of the expectations we build in the off-season. 

So for those who come consistently during the off-season, they will see results and progress. From there, the tradition and commitment will come. 

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PLT4M is a community of coaches and teachers working #InPursuitOfBetter. Our goal at PLT4M is to share the voices, stories and best practices of educators across the country. Reach out to Doug Curtin ([email protected]) to be featured on PLT4M.