Motivating Mopey Athletes, Good Mornings and People Who Hate the Deadlift

Motivating Mopey Athletes, Good Mornings and People Who Hate the Deadlift

Question: How do you deal with an unmotivated athlete?

Answer: Originally I had an extra long answer for this but trimmed it to the essentials.  First, if the athlete isn't a distraction to others and just "goes through the motions" and is constantly moody and shitty - he'll get out of me what he gives. I'll spend time and effort on those that give time and effort.  There is no sense in wasting these commodities trying to change one person when your supposed to be be there for the whole team. If the kid is a negative distraction to the others, the head coach will deal with it.

Am I going to ignore him and let him lift with bad form?  No.  But there are dozens of other kids who have dedicated themselves.  To ignore these athletes while Frankie Frowns needs to be jump started every two minutes is bad coaching. And eventually you'll hate your job.

Thankfully, football is a sport where you can't hide garbage effort for long.  You either get on board or find another sport/activity.

I may say some motivating things to the team but there's no chance I will spend every session being JOHNNY MOTIVATOR.  We expect perfect attendance for 50 weeks out of the year.  You can't fake discipline with those kind of expectations.

Question: How would you change your training program if you began coaching at the college level?

Answer: I wouldn't change anything; just because an athlete performs at a higher level athletically doesn't mean he is a more advanced lifter. Case in point - a friend of mine did NFL Combine Prep for an SEC linemen who ended up being a first round pick. He couldn't do a push-up when he began Combine Prep.

Another example - I worked with a very high-level basketball player who at the time played at an SEC school.  He had been there four years (redshirt junior) and was at the time a 2 year starter.  He couldn't do a box squat, with his bodyweight, to a box that was 3" above parallel.  Granted, he was 7 feet tall but that is still not an excuse. After an 8 week training program consisting of very, very complex movements such as squats, deadlifts, GHR, back raises and abdominal work - he squatted 300lbs to a parallel box and deadlifted just under 400lbs.   That's the same guy after the first day box squat failure, I asked how he managed to get off the toilet after taking a dump.

Just because you can throw a ball far or dunk a basketball doesn't mean you also know how to lift.  Good thing is you don't require the Secret Soviet Periodization Plan to get on the field.

Question: What exercises have you tried that have no carryover (or had a miserable experience)?

Answer: As a joke, my training partner Kevin Deweese and I set up a bench bar that had:

  • Chains (3 per side)
  • Bands (doubled mini-bands)
  • Reverse Bands (average bands)
  • Weight Releasers (25lbs per side)

Once everything was set up, no one wanted to go first; hard to step into the black hole of stupidity without some footprints before you.  This was purposely done to be stupid. However, the one lift that I don't think helped me much was concentric good mornings.  Good mornings are a great movement but this variation just turned into a shitty quarter squat.  I'm sure some people had success with this movement but at that time of my life, I probably should've done something a little more productive.


This last one has been a regular in my inbox in response to statements made on a Joe Rogan podcast.  Rogan had Strongman Robert Oberston on his show who comment that he believed deadlifts were not worth doing. In other words, the juice wasn't worth the squeeze (unless you were a powerlifter).  I've been asked this a dozen times and never really cared to answer; the 5/3/1 program includes the deadlift as a main lift so I think my answer is pretty obvious.  I imagine he got a lot of blowback for having an opinion about the deadlift; I am 100% OK with him having this opinion.  If I didn't like the deadlift (and the trap bar), then I wouldn't have my athletes or my oldest son perform them as part of their training.

Until next time - Strong Legs, Strong Lungs

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