Mike Winkler

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MIKE WINKLER

  • Archbishop Hoban High School (OH) Director of Strength and Conditioning
  • NHSSCA Ohio State Director
  • NHSSCA Regional Strength Coach Of The Year (2019)
  • Featured on PLT4M’s Chalk Talk Podcast

5 Keys To A Successful HS S+C Program

Imagine a world where you have dozens of high school sports teams that are all bought into year-round training. It is a high school strength coach’s dream to have hundreds of student-athletes wanting to lift consistently.

As high school strength and conditioning has developed in recent years, this dream is becoming a reality for many of us as coaches.

For a lot of high school programs, much like ours at Archbishop Hoban, everyone has to lift after school. When trying to get every different team and group into the weight room consistently, I use these five keys to make it all work. 

1. Flow Comes First 

Whether you have a state of the art facility or a closet in the field house, the flow comes first. It comes down to how many athletes can effectively work out in your space at any given time. 

To help with the flow of the weight room, think about the flow of the workout. For us, our workouts are set to take around 60 minutes. 

We start with a 12-minute dynamic warm-up as a large group and then separate into our smaller teams/groups for the ‘meat and potatoes’ of a session. Including warm-up, the main workout will take roughly 45 minutes. 

Lastly, the final 15 minutes of our workout is stretching and is done outside of the main weight room area. Because of the way the workout flows, I can schedule teams on 45-minute increments. 

2. Prioritize and Create Schedule

Because you have your flow, you can now craft a schedule that will get teams and groups into the weight room. 

The weekly schedule is where things get challenging. You cannot make everyone happy when it comes to perfecting the after school schedule. 

To be as fair as possible, make a list of priorities and stick to it: 

  • 1: In-season 
  • 2A: Off-Season teams with upcoming season
  • 2B: Off-Season teams that have committed turn out 
  • 3: Any teams that might not fit above categories

In-Season is juggling practice and game schedules, so keeping them at the top is essential. 

From there, whatever your priorities might be, always communicate and keep coaches up to date.

3. Keep Communication Consistent

Communication starts at the beginning of the year and is then consistent throughout the rest of the year. The more your coaches understand your flow and scheduling priorities, the more they will feel in the loop. 

With sports coach turnover and a lot of coaches not working at the school full time, I start each year with a fresh slate. I start the dialogue at our athletic department meeting and encourage sports coaches to come to talk to me throughout the rest of the year. 

As the rest of the year takes off, and both seasons and schedules change, I do my best to get ahead of our lifting schedule and keep it up to date on our school website. 

The more we can do to be open as strength coaches, the more receptive sports coaches will be. 

4. Be Flexible

Above all else, flexibility is key. Remember that we are working with high school athletes. 

A movement might take longer than the expected time you planned. This might mess with your flow and schedule you perfectly planned out. The very same schedule you communicated with coaches and teams may be a bit off. 

That is all okay! Be flexible and willing to change the timing up when needed. 

While we love the world of high school strength and conditioning for its organized chaos, it may not always feel so organized. Because you have the structure and schedule set up, minor adjustments are easy and manageable. 

5. Be Open 

While our lives in high school strength and conditioning are only getting busier, we must make time for each other. 

Hands down, one of the best parts of my week is when I get a chance to talk to other high school strength coaches. While we all may feel like our athletes, teams, weight rooms, and coaches are unique; we share so many of the same experiences. 

As high school strength and conditioning continues to grow, so should the dialogue. Whether it is scheduling or any other topic, we can support each other to give all of our schools the best product possible.