One of my major concerns when I made the move to the high school ranks after almost 15 years as a collegiate strength and conditioning coach was interacting with the parents.
I am in a unique situation: a K-12 private school. I deal with questions from parents of children at many different ages. These questions range from the routine to the very off-the-wall.
Early on in my transition, I came to realization that dealing with a parent was very similar to dealing with sport coaches. Sometimes it can be a difficult situation, and other times it can be smooth. The one thing the strength and conditioning coach must have is support from their administration. A supportive athletic director, principal, and administrative staff will be the strength and conditioning coach's best friends.
In this article, I will discuss some of the questions I have gotten in my time here, and then I will share how I answered these questions the best I could.
How young is too young to begin lifting weights?
I have heard this from both mothers and fathers. I explain to them our model here at Strong Rock begins to implement our training protocols in the 5th grade during the student’s physical education classes. Two days per week the students will perform basic body weight movements and exercises that begin our LTAD program.
My child has been lifting at home for years now, can he lift more weight than the other kids in class?
This usually comes from a father who pushes his son hard in athletics and is very involved. This is something I have dealt with more often with the younger kids, and it usually only applies to bench press. The kid often struggles performing 1 quality push-up for 10 reps. Since my goal for our kids coming out of middle school is to be able to perform 10 quality push-ups and 5 pull-ups, I usually win this battle after I explain our plan in this way.
Why don’t we use bands when we do speed work...my kid's personal trainer uses bands...why don’t we?
I totally understand that people believe in different things. However, I firmly believe in having high school kids perform age-appropriate exercises and movements. I address this by explaining our program from top to bottom and how performing what we do will have a bigger impact on their child than a gimmick.
I saw a video on YouTube of this personal trainer doing squats on top of a physio ball, why don’t we do that?
When I got this question it took everything in me not to die laughing. After I came to my senses, I respectfully began to explain age-appropriate exercises and movements. I also explained risk verses reward when prescribing exercises. This person has come back with other questions, but this was the best one.
What can my kid do to get a college scholarship?
With my background as a collegiate coach I get this question quite often. With 99% of my kids it would not be a realistic discussion, but that is just something you have to delicately explain to the parent. I am lucky - I can lean back on my years of experience dealing with high level athletes. I have the experience needed to compare their kids to my former college athletes, which helps put things into perspective.
Another approach I have taken is stressing academics, so the kid can promote that ability as well as their athletic abilities. The chase for a scholarship by parents is still something that boggles my mind, but it is where we are as a society.
These are just a few questions I get on a daily basis from parents. As a strength and conditioning coach, I must continue to remind myself to handle them with tact and the understanding that their child is involved...so sometimes passions run high.
Becoming a master of dealing with parents is a must as a high school strength and conditioning coach, and something I am constantly working on to improve.