The new school year is about to being and there are several areas the Physical Education teacher / strength coach needs to make sure are in place to ensure a smooth, successful year.
Let’s start with paperwork. Although it may be time consuming and tedious, it is necessary and will protect the teacher / coach if a problem occurs. Within the first week of school you should have parent permission / Preparticipation Screening and Medical Clearance forms filled out, this is proof of medical clearance to participation and Assumption of risk. For more information and sample forms go to “Essentials of Strength and Conditioning” 4th edition published by Human Kinetics.
Other forms that need to be on hand are the “Cleaning and maintenance” logs, “Safety Procedures”, “Injury Report Forms” and an “emergency action plan”. The cleaning and maintenance of the weight room will allow the person in charge to stay ahead of most maintenance problems. If the coach notices a worn cable they can order one before it breaks or becomes a safety hazard. The safety procedures and emergency action plan can be worked on with the Athletic Trainer. Most ACT’s will have plans for an injured athlete on the field or court so this will be easy for them to develop. Injury report forms may be a school district form, if not the teacher / coach can get online and find one.
High school administration may want a syllabus for the class. If you have a specific curriculum with handouts, homework, written tests and performance testing it is already finished. However, some coaches have lifting programs without handouts or tests. Developing a syllabus will be a little more difficult so the lifting / training calendar might be used as a substitution.
Budgets and equipment can be a touchy situation depending on the amount of money the school has, they types of fund raisers the teacher / coach can put on or who is in charge of the room. If one person is in charge of the room and it is used from all sports then sometimes each sport will put a little money into a general fund for the strength coach. If each coach does their own thing then trying to make large purchases for weight racks, bars or new machines requires everyone one to be on the same page with one coach as the lead. This is why a head strength coach is valuable. They can meet with each coach, get their needs, and meet with equipment companies to get the best deal and over see the entire program so it is done quickly and not go over budget.
Developing the athlete’s, a.k.a. program design, and is the main reason for the room and in my opinion the best part of the job. The yearlong calendar has been developed, the coach knows how many classes they will have each term, the general number of students in each class because there is usually a change or two and the length of the class. Now the teacher / coach should break the students into groups based on training age, sport, gender and phase. This can be a daunting process if the coach / teacher are new and do not have a clear grasp on the students. In this situation a general program for all the students in the class is best. After a week or two of lifting the program can be modified to meet the needs of the individual students. For those coaches / teaches who have been around it is a matter of assigning the correct program to the student. If I have a new student in my class I will always start with a basic program so I can observe their technique. If the student has good technique then I will make changes to their specific lifting program. It is better to work on the basics and move up then have a student performing lifts they do not know which could lead to an injury.
For the speed / agility program the coach / teacher must remember that some students have had very little activity during the summer so starting out slow will allow them to adapt. Some students may have worked out all summer because they are preparing for a fall sports. Going slow will help those students so they do not get over trained. Keep in mind that fall sports will have a hard first week for two, and then they will be getting ready for their season. It is best to meet with the coaches so you know the game days, travel days and rest days which will allow you to work the lifting program around these situations.
Beginning a new school year is exciting and fun; however there is a lot of work that needs to go into the preparation to make the year successful. High school strength coaches / teachers have the added responsibility of being evaluated by their administration, parent / teacher conferences, grades and general teacher meetings. The more prep work that can be accomplished before school starts the easier the first few weeks will go.