Blogs and Commentary

posted 10.21.13 at 3.15 p.m. by TJ Buchanan

Coach's Corner: Training to Train

Every month US Lacrosse sends out monthly newsletters to parents, program administrators, officials and coaches. And every month I add a Positive Coaching Alliance and Coaching Tip for all the coaches out there.

Here is where I'll keep the extended version of those tips as well as other topics that come about related to coaching.

Feel free to share this resource with all of your coaching colleagues and suggest in the comment box below with other topics for me to cover.

Positive Coaching Moment – Making Better People, Not Just Better Athletes

In a society where a coach's success is often measured by their win-loss record, we often lose sight of the big picture of what athletics can do for kids. Scott Hamilton, a Georgia high school football coach, has taken a step back and found a way to build compassion and caring into his team's training regimen. This video takes a look at something he is doing for the greater good of not only his team, but also special needs students at the school where he coaches. The small gesture he puts forth to the young people chosen to participate affects their whole being, as well as that of his team.

Coaching Tip – Training to Train

The off-season is a time that an athlete should be preparing his or her body for the rigors of the upcoming season. As a former high school coach and current NCAA coach, I have seen many athletes come into the season not physically ready to play. Not only does being "out of shape" delay the development of your team, but can also lead to injuries as we push athletes to give maximum effort for extended periods of time with minimal rest periods between practice sessions. Coaches need to encourage their athletes to come into the season ready to train. By providing athletes with age appropriate strength and condition programs in the off-season, your practices will be more effective and the risk for injury can decrease. Let me be clear, I am not advocating your U9 team become weight lifters, but rather participating in training activities that will prepare their bodies for the rigors of the season.

Before embarking on any strength and conditioning program, several factors need to be considered:

  • Children will be at various points along the developmental continuum, therefore; the program cannot be a one size fits all model. The program should be fluid in nature so that workouts can be adapted to the individual needs and goals.
  • The environment in which training occurs needs to be proactive. Fundamental motor skill development must be taught, coached, and assessed. Positive feedback must be provided constantly so that skill acquisition and the positive benefits of strength and conditioning are always reinforced
  • Exercise should never be given as punishment for youth players.
  • Participants must be able to listen to and follow directions and there must be quality supervision at all times.

Only after these factors are addressed, should a training regimen begin. A basic strength program is a good starting point for preparing athletes for competition and building a culture of preparation before performance. The table below is an illustration of an age-appropriate workout program.

 U9-U11  U13-U15  HS
and Goals

 Speed, power and endurance are developed using FUN games  Overall development of the athlete’s physical capacities (focus on aerobic conditioning) and fundamental movement skills. Optimize fitness preparation, sport/event specific skills and performance.
 Recommended Components

Participation in multiple sports and FUN activities that develop:

ABC's (Agility, Balance, Coordination and Speed)

RJT (Running, Jumping, Throwing)

KGBs (Kinesthetics, Gliding, Buoyancy, Striking with a body part)

CKs (Catching, Kicking, Striking with an implement)

Introduce basic strength and flexibility exercises.

Learn correct weight lifting techniques. Technique stressed over resistance.

Continue to develop speed with specific activities during the warm-up, such as agility, quickness and change of direction

Develop knowledge of warm up, cool down, stretching, hydration, nutrition, recovery

Fitness programs, recovery programs, psychological preparation and technical development are now individually tailored to the athlete's needs

Double and multiple periodization is the optimal framework of preparation

Information adapted from The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model. For more information on developing programs visit