When You are the "Other" Strength Coach

When You are the "Other" Strength Coach

Question: A wrestler I've been training is currently in-season and his coach is in charge of his training/lifting.  He trains 3 days/week and does a lot of circuit training: bodyweight squats, push-ups, side laterals, sit-ups and assault bike.  Each station is done for a minute and is done twice.

His coach is open to him doing some extra work after his workout.  What do you think we should do in regards to training (if anything)?

Answer: It is always difficult when you are getting the athlete's "leftovers".  You can end up battling the other coaches program which can also become a battle of coaching egos.  While it's great that there are two coaches who want the athlete to succeed, the athlete can end up hurt, tired and ultimately unprepared.

I also know that it puts the athlete in a difficult position; they need to respect and listen to their sport coaches. And many times the "other" strength coach (in this case, you) will berate and criticize the sport coaches programming/training. I'm not saying that you do this but many do.  This doesn't serve the athlete very well.  They can end up resentful in either or both directions and become both frustrated and a pain in the ass to coach.

I have ZERO problems with an athlete who wants to work at a private facility instead of training with the team. ( I imagine the head coach would think differently and ultimately it is his team and his call.)  But the end goal of training is to make the kids/team better - and if the kid believes the other coach will do a better job, then I'm OK with it.  It's not my sport career and I don't have such a big ego that I don't acknowledge other coaches.  However, you gotta pick one or the other - I won't make a vastly different program/training just because you want to do X, Y and Z with another coach.  You are not special.

It seems that the sport coach has given you his blessing to train the athlete.  If this is truly the case, then the first thing you have to do is make sure you AND the athlete can HONESTLY assess his readiness/recovery every training day.  Because of all the sports in the world, wrestling (and fighting sports) are notable for their overtraining.  And even if the kid presents as "ready", sometimes that is just his mentality.  And while it's awesome (and a million times better than the opposite), it still presents a problem.

If possible, I would have some baseline numbers on the athlete PRIOR to in-season training and use them as a guideline.  You know if he falls "X" from his baseline, he needs to recover more than he trains. 

  • I would do the most minimal strength work needed to gain strength. It may be Training 101 but it needs to be said.  I would recommend the Trap Bar.  The Trap Bar allows you to train LIGHTER and still make progress.  It's also easier on the back than the straight bar deadlift and easier on the knees/legs than squats.  Perfect for in-season training.
  • I would also train "problem" areas for injury prevention. This is athlete specific.
  • Since wrestling is a weight-class sport, don't be surprised if his upper body lifts (bench/press) take a dump when in-season.  We use the chin-up/pull-up as ANOTHER assessment tool for upper body strength during the in-season.
  • I would NOT do any conditioning; training should be strength/hypertrophy based only.
  • Don't be afraid to do less than scheduled. 
  • Despite popular opinion, teenagers/athletes aren't indestructible. They don't magically recover from everything they do.
  • Make sure you develop a relationship with the athlete so everyone can be open and honest about readiness. 
  • Don't be a cheerleader/bullshit motivator; be a coach. 

This may be common sense but ego and richard-measuring is strong in the sport/training community.  Never lose sight that the athlete and their performance comes first.

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