Below is the final table. This was the data after the last weeks of training were completed and the final assessments performed. As you can see in the table, several cells contain the letters “DNT”. This stands for “Did not test” due to an injury. I highlighted in green any improvements from the 1st assessment in the explosive power and speed tests (broad jump, 10 yd, 18 yd, and 40 yd sprints). A change to red indicated the athlete’s time was slower than when first tested.
What I believe worked:
-Though not in the scope of the formal assessments, the athletes for the most part got stronger. I didn’t include their barbell exercise improvements, but as would be expected, most improved sub-maximally (we did not perform a 1RM) by gradually increasing the weight each week.
-Technique improved, and, as this was the final phase before the summer, the athletes were prepared for their summer workouts in terms of knowledge of the exercises/workouts.
-Squatting twice per week seemed to help as far as improving technique/flexibility and removing some pre-conceived notions of what constitutes “heavy.”
-Our medicine ball throws and plyometrics before the workout served as a useful bridge between the warm up and weight training session. We didn’t perform the Olympic lifts for several reasons (primarily space, equipment, and time), so they also served as a means of filling that gap, to some extent.
What I believe did not work:
-Chin up volume: I think when handling athletes that are struggling for that first pull up, there needs to be more exposure to “hanging.” Working in exercises that work on scapular depression and elevation with a straight arm can be a great segue into building basic strength needed to support one’s own body. This goes back to what many have written about, namely that you should be able to swing/climb and handle your own bodyweight. It may not make you a freak on the field, but it usually gives helpful feedback in terms of relative strength improvements(i.e. the coach can assuage an athlete’s fear of gaining a couple of lbs. when you couple the weight gain with an improvement in pull up ability).
-Military press: I don’t mean to suggest that I think it wasn’t useful, but rather I think I was too “married” to this before beginning the program. Substituting dumbbells can be very useful, especially for athletes that have problems with the technique or are simply not strong enough yet.
What I would do differently:
-Train the sprints, albeit in small doses. I had planned to do this, and when I realized the athlete would be practicing after lift I got nervous that our running volume would be too high. So I scrapped most of the speed work. The answer is not usually to do it or not to do it, but rather how much. I’d add in small doses, maybe 8-10 short sprints (<40 yards), and some simple drills to address technique. We did some throughout the off season, but it wasn’t as structured as I had originally planned.
-Retest speed each time. I thought the broad jumps midway would give me an idea of our speed numbers. That’s a dangerous path, and I wish I would have re-tested speed at the midway point, even if I only did 1 of the speed tests(maybe the 18 yard, as its a good blend between acceleration and speed).
-Retest under like conditions (i.e. don’t use a different floor, if possible).
-Add more hangs (passive- hanging for time; active- hanging with straight arms and actively depressing the scapula for reps).
-Metabolic test: I’d also include something metabolic, like a beep test. I would include something to gauge aerobic capacity because leading into the summer this can lend further insight into how you might progress a running program in the off season, with an individual athlete’s ability/position as the guiding factor.
-Body composition: weight, and 2 skinfolds (tricep/quad). I remember Coach Evans talking about this several years ago and it’s something I currently do with my teams. The numbers are very quick to obtain, can lend valuable insight into lifestyle habits, and also reinforce the need to be putting quality fuel into the body.
Looking over the data I am pretty pleased with the results we achieved. We did suffer some injuries, but those who were able to train for the most part improved in some area. We also sent this data out to the athletes to keep them involved in the process. I’m sure there are better ways to set up excel, and I’m sure there are better statistical methods to find out averages and such, but for me this has been about taking small steps and checking off the basics before I move on to more advanced methods.
Please comment in the space below if you have any questions about the data/program, etc… My intention with this article was to be open and share everything I had. Your feedback would be greatly appreciated.