A couple days ago I got an email from someone who was, at one point, going to be one of my GA’s for this semester. In an unlikely, but highly desirable, turn of events, she had been offered a combo role at a D2 university as the athletic department’s strength & conditioning coordinator and an assistant coach for women’s basketball (a dual role is pretty standard at the D2 level).
That’s a pretty tall order for anyone, but especially someone who is so fresh out of school.
So, back to the email, she let me know what had been going on, expressed a bit of concern and asked if I had any advice in general for her athletes and then any additional advice specific for women’s basketball.
She seemed to think my advice was helpful, so I thought I’d go ahead and post it in case anyone else can benefit:
It’s great to hear from you, thanks for the note and congratulations on your
The team’s training is going really well. We’ve got about two more weeks
until practices start, so the girls are getting hit pretty hard right now
with conditioning, lifting, and individual practices. I think we’re the
healthiest we’ve ever been in the 5 seasons I’ve been with the team – it’s
amazing what a good athletic trainer can do! So, hopefully we’re setup for a
It sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate right now! I think it is
important (in a good way) that you’ve identified it’s a disadvantage to be
the one “in charge” when you know you’ve still got lots to learn. It’s
always important to identify your weaknesses, then you can work on them. In
this case I would recommend you reach out as much as possible to continue
learning from others in the field. It might be a good idea to visit other
universities that are within driving distance and meet with some of those
strength coaches to build relationships and more sources for advice. Read as
much as you can from practicing strength coaches who keep blogs up to date.
And while you’re doing all this reading and networking, try to look for what
all these sources have in common. Those things are the gems that you want.
You’re not looking for what’s different and new… that’s usually crap…
stick to the things that everyone agrees on. It’s a much safer bet than
having to wade through the other junk ideas that people have. I’d venture to
guess you don’t have that kind of time to waste!
For your current athletes, my advice is try not to dwell too much on what
your new limits are. Just identify what you DO have to work with and move
forward. When I started at Mason, the head strength coach was reviewing one
of my programs and pointed out that I was programming the use of equipment
we only had three pieces of for a soccer team. It just didn’t make sense.
There was nothing about the GHR’s that couldn’t be accomplished with more
creative programming (sissy hams, RDL, hip bridge, etc.) His point was that
I shouldn’t get wrapped up in forcing the use of equipment or methods that I
was used to… I was in a new environment with a new set of advantages and
disadvantages and as such had to program differently. So, what are the
advantages of your new facilities? I’m sure there are some and making the
most of what you have is one of the best ways you can help your athletes.
Okay, on to more practical advice, since you do have a lot on your plate,
try to SIMPLIFY as much as possible. Simple programs, simple movements,
simple instruction. This will allow you to get yourself set all while
providing solid programming and help to your athletes. Keep warm-ups
consistent for most or all of your groups. Same thing with any ab circuits
and GPP style conditioning when possible. Also, try to get ALL your
programming done at the beginning of the semester. This is a huge timesaver.
Always keep the quality of movement and exercise execution as close to
perfect as possible.
For basketball, you have the advantage of having played. Draw on that
experience and combine it with the science. For conditioning, think about
the flow of the game, work:rest, stoppages in play, and common movement
patterns. The strength training can stay pretty simple. They should be some
of the most well-rounded athletes you work with and that’s a group that’s
easy to get stronger.
In the end, all of us have to find our own way. But, don’t be shy about
reaching out to others for advice. I hope this was at least slightly
helpful! Keep in touch and let me know if you have any other questions.