The development of an athlete's strength, conditioning and mobility is a VERY important aspect of success in that athlete's career. It's the base of the pyramid in the hierarchy of athletic development. So as a strength & conditioning coach, it is our responsibility to impress upon our athlete's the importance of the work they do in the weight room because sometimes athlete's lose sight of the why.
Collegiate athlete's have a LOT on their plate. Practice, games and competitions, class, papers, mid-terms and exams, learning to live on their own, relationship issues, and lastly, training in the weight room. Because of this, our work goes beyond programming and technical coaching. It goes further into managing emotions and motivation, teaching life lessons, connecting on a personal level with your athletes, and sometimes just listening. In a sense, our work is arguably more psychological than physiologic (hat tip to Coach Wendell Richards for this one!).
When a team enters into its season, training in the weight room can be the last thing on an athlete's list of priorities with everything that's going on in their lives. Additionally, the mentality to back off and not continue to push and work hard can creep in because athlete's feel they need to be "fresh" for a game or meet, even at the start of one's season.
This is where it becomes our responsibility to remind our athlete's about the mental approach they need to have towards training. As an athlete, you need to come into a training session with a killer mentality ready to attack the sets and reps with tenacity, grit and mental toughness. This mentality has great transferability to team practices and ultimately games, meets or competitions. It all starts here.
"Coach, can we back off the weights a little this week?" If you have a must win game, you're close to conference championships or postseason competition- then sure- keep the general intensity, but lower the volume. The week of a scrimmage, time trial or something similar 1.5 months before your first competition? Are you kidding me?!?!? F that! When you're in the weight room, it's time to work, it's time grind, it's time to get better and improve! Any good program should factor in volume and intensity to account for sufficient recovery at any point in the training cycle anyways.
Athlete's have to realize the importance of training hard and being a mental giant when it comes to their training, especially in the off season, preseason, and early stages of the competitive season. You can't expect to peak and perform at a high level by backing off too soon.
If you want a strong foundation to build a successful athletic career on, you must continually develop and strengthen that foundation of strength, conditioning and mobility. An athlete is leaving a lot on a table in terms of development and potential if a poor foundation exists due to lack of experience or desire. As a strength coach, we can develop, build and strengthen this foundation from both a physiological and psychological stand point!