At Power Athlete, there’s a term we do not take very lightly - Limiting Factor: an inability or minimally effective component limiting performance and the development of athleticism.
As opposed to labeling weaknesses, the term ‘limiting’ provides coaches the opportunity to identify, measure, and improve. More importantly, this approach directs the coach to take an honest, complete look at their athlete, an honesty they’ll inevitably face in competition.
Working around limiting factors when building a strength program is short term thinking. And the coach becomes the athlete’s limiting factor. I’ve witnessed this same "work around" attitude fail coaches when they choose to use spreadsheets to write their program and use lifting cards to lead their athletes.
Applying their spreadsheet system may be easier year to year since it is familiar to the coach, but investing in the long term by learning and operating strength and conditioning software accelerates the development of athletes and improves a strength coach’s quality of life.
This article will introduce performance limitations of programming using spreadsheets, and provide solutions focused on Empowering Performance.
Where spreadsheets make sets and reps look pretty and setup for enhancing performance traits such as strength, power, and speed, they decelerate the development of leader traits: accountability, ownership, and leadership. They also do not contribute to passion or a coach's quality of life.
1. Improve accountability during off-campus training periods
During the school year, athletes are under the watchful eye of the strength coach, so training accountability can be a simple task. Leave blanks on the spreadsheet, and have athletes plug in their numbers while leaders pass out and collect the cards.
Yet, when athletes take their breaks in the winter and the summer, accountability is still left to the leaders, but merely handing a workout card to athletes does not Empower!
Properly developing accountability is a mixture of motivation, ownership, and most importantly, direction. Printed out or emailed spreadsheets lay out training direction, but are missing the coach that directs the training during the school year.
Enter TrainHeroic and their coaching backend, CoachHeroic. This tool allows the strength coach to direct and monitor training in realtime while the kids are all over the world. With this tool you can see who is hitting their workouts and who needs a call from a leader.
Being able to hold athletes accountable for their actions and offering coaching direction year-round are worth the investment. It’s an added bonus to view the analytics of the program and monitor what was “supposed to happen” in the off-season program with what is actually happening.
Here, a program can be adjusted online instead of sticking a kid with percentage, setting them up for failure without a coach's oversight until they return from school break.
2. Cultivate ownership of perfect movement
Handing a complete off-season program on a workout card to an athlete is not ownership, it’s setting an athlete up for failure. The effectiveness of a program relies 100% on the proper execution of movement. In order for a movement to transfer to the sporting arena and protect an athlete from injury, technique must be dialed in.
I know every coach has experienced the athlete who forgot what name of a movement and how to do it. When they are training on campus, this can be an annoyance, but when they’re off campus this can be detrimental to performance and dangerous.
Ditch the workout cards and provide an athlete the opportunity to take ownership of their movement. Get on a program that lays out the points of performance and provides a video coaching athletes through the movement.
While the effectiveness is not as optimal as you screaming right in their ear, a video of you coaching your expectation of execution is certainly better than a lifeless spreadsheet. They have the opportunity to own their movement which will pay off when they return to your weight room.
3. Allow your leaders to hold the standard and improve competition
One of the many challenges of a strength coach is split-training groups, especially when you’re focused on developing team leaders. As much as you aim to keep the focus on individual progress, athletes want to know what their teammates hit in previous sessions or how they stack up against the best. My answer was always - “One more than you” - to get some extra juice.
This level of in-house competition is always high when athletes are on-campus, but as soon as they leave, this intrinsic push drops significantly.
In order to keep the in-team competition high, I drop the Leaderboard into the training program. Here athletes can measure themselves amongst the best... and bonus: talk a little trash on the Feed.
So where does the leaderboard turn into leadership development? I give the ownership of the team to the leaders and give them the opportunity to hold their teammates accountable at the most difficult time to lead: the off-season.
The leaderboard allows leaders to see who is training, pushing, and staying actively involved. From here, leaders practice mutual accountability and constructive communication. This creates a culture so they’ll hit the ground running when back under the coach’s watch.
This is an opportunity to lead free from pressure of the ball coaches. But the direction, opportunity, and Empowerment are provided through TrainHeroic’s tools - like the Athlete Performance Profiles and communication connecting the whole team on the Feed.
Spreadsheets, where were you on that one?
4. Ignite passion and motivation when you're not around
Print is not motivating, passion is. I am all about uploading my own motivational speeches for my athletes and placing them as the first movement in each training week to get their chili hot.
As the years have passed using this tool, I have passed the torch to my athletes asking for either a motivational quote, a video of a big lift they hit from a previous training session, or a creative call out of another teammate.
Passion drives programs, why not use it to enhance accountability, ownership and leadership of a program. Sending a spreadsheet home feels like homework, or you can Empower your athletes by making them a part of the program.
5. Improve the quality of your life
The coach is a selfless breed. High levels of passion, energy, and time is given to athletes day in and day out. Unfortunately, each of these is a limited resource. By the end of the day, there is barely enough left in the tank to give their own family quality face time.
Where spreadsheets assist in calculations and drop downs of the different variations of the RDL, there is a better option that speeds up programming and workout construction.
Spreadsheets were built for ACCOUNTANTS, not coaches. Even accountants refer to these as “time sucks” - averaging an extra twelve hours each month modifying and correcting spreadsheets they frequently reuse. That twelve hours adds up. Quickly.
The time and energy spent clicking over spreadsheets takes away from family time, never athlete time. Think about that. Would you trade a time-consuming, less efficient yet familiar piece of software for the pain of watching a two minute “How to build your workout” video and more family time? Easy.
For every purpose you have for holding onto your spreadsheets, TrainHeroic matches or far exceeds because this software is built by coaches for coaches.
Forget learning the formulas or borrowing templates from other coaches. There is an easy way to dive into your athlete's training data and building a movement library without getting a PHD in Microsoft Excel macros and scripts.
Give it a fair run, ask questions about application, and learn how to Empower Performance using technology, not spreadsheets and workout cards.
You can coach or you can CoachHeroically. Do not be your athlete’s limiting factor.