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Bridging The Gap Between Schools and The Private Sector

I have the privilege of having some awesome team sport athletes choosing to train with me during the off-season. It's a privilege I don't take likely. Now, in my area (rural North Carolina, USA), there are no strength and conditioning coaches in public high schools. We're working towards this direction, but there unfortunately has been little progress. In the schools, however, they utilize certain Physical Education classes as "athletic periods". These are classes specifically designated for athletes to be able to train during the day.

These classes are a great concept, regardless of the setbacks or inequalities they currently present (a different blog post entirely), and allow athletes to get a large amount of training in during a school year. From the private sector perspective, something is better than nothing when it comes to training. So while I do not always agree with the methods the high school coaches use (mostly football) in the weight room, I'll admit they are at least trying to do something positive by creating team cultures through unity.

The rural area I get to call home

When I do get athletes coming to work with me in the private sector, I find it's important to bridge the gap between the training we do and the training at the school. Especially when it comes to building athleticism and expanding on the abilities of athletes, communication between all parties involved to the betterment of the athlete is paramount to their success.

There's a few tips I hope to provide you with in building the bridge between the private sector and the schools which I find may be beneficial to share for the sake of the athletes. This can be beneficial for the coaches at schools, and the coaches in the private sector who have athletes coming to them for additional work.

  1. The first thing you need to do is put away your ego, and remember you're both trying to accomplish the same goal. You're looking at the same piece of the puzzle from different vantage points, which is actually an advantage to the solving the puzzle entirely. A coach at a school is looking at the piece for it's shape and how it fit's into the completed puzzle (the team dynamics and style of play), while a coach in private sector is looking at clarifying the piece of puzzle with the goal of making it detailed and sharp edged. Both coaches are looking at the same piece of the puzzle, just frame a different frame of mind. This is much easier to identify and understand why each frame of mind is important. You (whichever coach you are) are correct in your assessment of the athlete, as is the other coach you're sharing the athlete with.

  2. The second thing you need to do is identify the context for training and where concessions can be made. Private sector coaches listen up here, because you have way more control over extraneous factors than coaches in school settings do. You can limit group sizes, you have more control over equipment selections and utilizations, and in general more attention to give to an individual. This is much easier to do in your setting than the high school coach who has 30-60 kids who have a huge range of abilities, and limited budget to put towards equipment or extra staff (which gives greater attention spans). School coaches, identify the limitations you have in your environment, and be open to the collaboration from a private sector coach who has less constraints on how they operate.

  3. Share ideas, programs, and more. This works really well if you're a coach in the school setting. Share your program! It's not the "secret sauce" you may think it is, and probably won't get shared by the private sector coach trying to figure out how they fit into the puzzle.. The more you can reach out and offer up, the more help the private sector coach can offer in return. For the private sector coaches, you should do your best to learn about the systems and program methodologies being used at the high schools. I have an athlete whose high school football coach loves Dane Miller's work (Garage Strength) and treats it as gospel, so I asked for the program they were running and read up on Dane's blog and programming style. I've been able to tailor a more objective program based on the things I see the athletes needs with my newer knowledge of what's going on.

These are just starting points, but they serve as jump off point to doing what is best for the athlete. At the end of the day, the coach is a supporting role for the athlete and we need to be reminded of this. Our work serves to benefit them, and forging relationships with all parties involved is necessary to benefitting the athlete in a way which optimizes their performance as individual and with their team.

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