9 Questions to Ask When Designing a Training Program

 In Sports Performance Training

When designing a training program, it’s important to have a clearly defined philosophy and to utilize methods that are the right fit for you and your athletes. Developing a training philosophy and methodology starts with asking a series of questions. Mike Gentry, Ed.D, MSCC, CSCS, Founder and President of High School Strength, outlines the questions you should be asking and how to go about answering them.

Keep in mind that there is a large amount of information out there regarding new and different training modalities, and as a coach you need to discern what is worth adding to your program and what should be left out. Whenever you’re considering altering or adding to your training program, first take the time to ask yourself these questions:

1. Do these training methods make sense to you?

It’s essential that you understand a training method before you use it. If you are intrigued by a new method but don’t quite understand it, learn more about it until you feel comfortable teaching it to others.

2. Is there scientific evidence to support the training?

Scientific research can be one of the best guides to determine if a training method is worth utilizing. There are principles of training validated by scientific experimentation, and your training methods should be supported by these principles.

3. Do the proposed training methods best fit the age and experience level of your athletes?

You might come across an exercise that seems particularly innovative or effective, but if it’s too advanced for the training age and experience of your athletes then it’s not going to be the right fit. Make sure that your methods are suited to your athletes. Before you can incorporate more difficult and advanced exercises, your athletes will have to build up the necessary strength and experience in the weight room.

4. Are these methods safe for the athletes?

This is directly related to the previous questions. No training method should endanger your athletes. Choosing modalities that are backed by science and fit your athletes’ training age will help ensure that you keep them healthy and safe.

5. Do you have the proper facilities, equipment, time allotment, and staff to implement the proposed style of training?

Your resources can often determine the type of training you can do. Some exercises might require extra time or supervision, while others might simply require a certain piece of equipment. If you are low on resources, try to find variations of exercises that are quicker to learn and require less equipment.

6. Can you and your staff properly demonstrate the exercises?

If you and your staff can’t properly demonstrate how to perform an exercise, you can’t expect your athletes to learn the correct form and technique. This goes back to keeping your athletes safe. Showing your athletes how to properly complete an exercise is essential to keeping training both safe and effective.

7. Can you safely test and then evaluate your athletes with these methods?

Gentry believes that athletes benefit from safely testing and evaluating their training progress, as this promotes proper technique and recognizes athletes for achieving a goal. When introducing a new training method, consider how you might evaluate and test an athlete’s proficiency.

8. Are you confident enough with these methods and system to effectively sell them to your colleagues and, most importantly, to your athletes?

You should have confidence in your ability to teach and implement your training methods, otherwise it will be difficult to get buy-in from your colleagues and athletes. This relates to being able to fully understand and demonstrate any exercise you hope to introduce.

9. Is this a wise course of action?

Don’t lose sight of the big picture. You might get excited about a new training method, but always stop to consider whether it will benefit your athletes down the road.


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