CHAPTER 1: Methodology, Environment, and Culture: The foundation of a training methodology begins with the platform is it performed upon.

Another busy day on the training floor. Coach Matt June found a $5 bill on the indoor turf of our fitness area. So he put it on top of the plyo boxes right next to where he found it… assuming that whoever was looking for it would go back to the spot they had lost it. One week goes by, and the $5 still remains in its exact place upon the plyo boxes. So Coach Matt takes notice and informs me how the money has still not been claimed. This area of the gym being a very high traffic area, people are constantly pulling the boxes out and putting them back. Not to mention we have hundreds of athletes who enter our doors each day. We decided to leave it and simply observe. Two weeks go by, the money is still there. At this point we just thought this was hilarious, so we added a couple dollars to create a small pile of cash. Three, Four, Five weeks go by, and the money has not been taken. We noticed athletes would need a plyo box for training and would actually move the money, take the plyo box, and then replace the money on top of the box beneath it. The money ended up being there for over two months before we finally were sick of looking at it. This taught us something about our facility but also about young humans. It illuminates how they will act in accordance with their environment. How easy would it be for someone to walk by and grab the money and continue on with their day? The lesson learned from this story was how much respect our athletes have for Athletes Warehouse. And this brings us into our first discussion of how the right environment is the platform to shape success in whatever it is a young athlete chooses to pursue.

Located in Pleasantville, NY, Athletes Warehouse is a 17,500 square foot athlete oasis. The design of this facility is based around the idea that it could provide an athlete with everything they could possibly need to reach their performance goals. Speciality services here include strength and conditioning, baseball and softball skills, nutrition, chiropractic service, massage therapy, rehab and return to sport, and mental skills. Each team member who brings forth their respective services and expertise is a full-time member of Team Athletes Warehouse. Collaboratively we make up the Performance staff. Our inevitable goal through everything we provide is to drive top level performance coaching to our athletes.

What is a PERFORMANCE COACH?

We don’t use the term trainer. We rarely use the term strength coach. We consider ourselves performance coaches. While many of us provide the service of strength and conditioning, labeling ourselves as strength and conditioning coaches does not fully encompass what we do. For now, I’m going to leave it at that. In the coming paragraphs and chapters you will see why our service provides WAY more than just strength and conditioning.

The Athlete-Coach interaction…

Training at AW always starts with the person first and athlete second. We look to create an environment and culture that allows athletes to succeed in sport but also in everything else they choose to pursue. Our team of coaches act as gatekeepers into a safe space where an athlete can truly explore what it is they want to achieve as an athlete and as a person. Through our time we’ve had the opportunity to send student-athletes into the top division 1 athletic programs in the nation, as well as sending students-athletes into the top academic institutions in the world. Our team of educated coaches facilitate an environment that commands and produces excellence in all areas of an athlete’s life. Like I stated before, I intend to hide nothing and be completely transparent. So from my perspective, there are a couple characteristics that our coaches share that facilitate a culture that produces success. 

RELATABLE

You just put a 5×5 squat on an athletes program, do you know what that feels like yourself? Your athlete has been battling a chronic injury over the past few months, do you know what that feels like yourself?  When interns ask me what my number one tip is for them as a coach my answer is to never stop training like an athlete. Going off my last statement, I am by no means telling anyone to go out and seek a sports injury just so you can relate with the athlete. But being completely transparent,  the hard truth is that it is very difficult to work in an industry with high level athletes when you have not yourself competed at a high level. The daily rigors of being a high level athlete are very hard to relate to when you have not experienced such. With that being said, regardless of whether you were a high level athlete or never played a sport in your life, if you are a coach working with athletes you must always continue to train like an athlete. This allows a coach to relate to an athlete on a different level. Having the immediate reminders of what training feels like allows a coach to program more effectively as well. WE TRAIN LIKE ATHLETES!

NURTURING

The age of the belittling coach is gone. Creating a safe space allows an athlete to devote their energy into their physical and psychological development. The age of the belittling coach is over. We do not believe that this style of coaching creates the most efficient path to growth. Performance coaches are not responsible for “toughening” kids up. We are responsible for getting athletes to move well, be focused and aware, and achieve whatever it is they want to achieve. If you’re looking to harden someone, keep it out of sport. Yes we must facilitate a relationship with our athletes that commands respect, however this is accomplished through a genuine relationship. DO NOT MISTAKE, this is not saying we just dish out high-fives all day and tell everyone it’s going to be okay. Which leads me to the next point of “honesty”. WE GO OUT OF OUR WAY TO MAKE ATHLETES FEEL AS THOUGH THIS IS THEIR HOME!

HONEST

Growth can never take place if someone is not aware of their flaws and failure. Honesty is the only way we can get an athlete to see when they need improvement. It provides direction and clarity for both the athlete and the coach. It’s easy to tell an athlete when they’ve succeeded. We must have the ability to tell an athlete when they are not good at something, when they fail, or when they are not putting forth their best. While these sound simple, it’s not an easy thing to tell athletes who you have just met. We have found that the earlier honesty can be established in the coach-athlete relationship, the less personal and more constructive it will be. UPON FIRST INTERACTION WITH AN ATHLETE WE SET THE INTENTION OF BEING COMPLETELY HONEST.

RELENTLESS

(RE-LENT-LESS) showing or promising no abatement of severity, intensity, strength, or pace (1). A coach must possess a relentless demeanor and accept nothing less of their athletes, because in sports, we are all about the long term game. It’s easy for an athlete to push through one, two, three, or even a dozen hard training efforts. It’s the job of the coach to mitigate training in a way that allows an athlete to reproduce this over the course months or even years.. 

FINALLY…

PROVE IT

Now this is what it’s all about.

Everytime we get a new athlete, we approach them with the mentality of, “Let me PROVE to this athlete what we can achieve together.” This creates a level of trust where the athlete’s and coach’s efforts are truly collaborative. I’d love to share a story about a high school lacrosse player who we trained this past off-season. This athlete came in with an absolutely flying 40 yard dash of 4.58 seconds. Being that this athlete was division 1 bound in a year, we were definitely looking to build strength. Yet, the end goal was to see if we could push his speed boundaries as we got closer to season. As we began volume strength training protocols, naturally the athlete gained weight. This was the plan. We utilized principles of 1×20 and then even principles of german volume training (more on these later). A decent understanding of physics can tell you that through a simple mass equation, this athlete was going to slow down. That he did. While the athlete showed moments of frustration as he was flashing slower times every week, we simply brought him back to the process. We showed him the plan. We continued to earn his trust. Little by little we began implementing more power work and contrast training and bam… two weeks out of season he flashed a 4.42 second 40 yard dash.

This story was not intended to show off our ability to train speed. In fact, his program could have been designed by anyone who has a basic understanding of periodization. Yet this is to display communication with an athlete, show them the plan, earn their trust, then PROVE IT with the outcome they are looking for. This is how you build clients for life.

Things to implement immediately into training from this chapter:

For coaches: 

-Do not talk “at” your athletes, but communicate with them. 

-Create a safe-space for athletes and allow them to be able to devote more energy and focus into training.

-Practice what you preach. Train as if you are preparing for an event or sport.

-Constantly address and re-address the athletes goals and how they line up with your plan for them.

-Test your athletes.

For Athletes:

-Find a coach who you genuinely appreciate the presence of. This does not mean they are your best friend, but if you enjoy being around them, that means they provide you the right energy to succeed.

-Understand that the coach to athlete relationship is one that is 50/50. What this means is that the athlete and coach bring equal energy to a training session to create a full effort. Do not expect a coach to put forth more than their ½, and do not entrust a coach who does not put forth their ½.

-Carry a relentless approach with everything you do. 

COMING UP NEXT…

CHAPTER 2: Assessing the Needs of an Athlete

This chapter will discuss more specifically…

-The process by which we decide what an athlete needs.

-How the athletes needs lines up with their own personal goals.

-An introduction into early stages of training.

Sources: 

  1. relentless. 2020. In Merriam-Webster.com.Retrieved May 12, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/relentless 

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