With fitness and training facilities popping up at a faster rate then ever, finding a quality program can be difficult. How do I know if that this coach/program is doing is actually helping my child get better? How can I trust this coach/program? If you are a parent looking for an hour to drop your child off so you can run some errands, get some things done around the house, or just have a quiet hour to yourself, I completely understand. However, you don’t want to waste your money in a program that doesn’t work, or worse yet, sets your child up for failure and or injury.
One of the big obstacles is that, to the common eye, speed training all looks the same. As a speed and strength nerd, I am NOT going to preach about what is included in a quality speed program vs. a poor speed program. It won’t make any sense, and lets be honest, you don’t really care. However, I will share with you a few things you can research and ask your prospective speed coach/program so you can make sure your child/young athlete is working with a quality coach. This is very important, because while a quality speed program with a great coach can have tremendous positive impact on the experience your child will have with sports, too much time with a poor coach can do quite the opposite.
Step 1: Education/Influence
The first and easiest piece of information you can get from the coach or from their website is their certification and education. Here are some questions you should ask:
What is your certification?
Did you study this subject matter in school?
Who is your mentor and who are you constantly learning from?
Believe it or not, it’s not the end of the world if the prospective coach isn’t certified or doesn’t have the best certification. It doesn’t even matter if they have an exercise science degree or not. The only way it is OK for them not to have those credentials is if they have a mentor they are currently learning from, and possess the other qualities I will later discuss. If they are not educated and do not have a certification, it is important you look up who they tell you is one of their mentors. Check their mentor’s background. A simple Google search will probably tell you all you need to know. If they are a quality mentor, they should be well known in the strength and conditioning world and have a solid following. This is important, because the industry is constantly evolving, and these mentors are the ones practicing the most effective methods to date. If the prospective coach is just looking up videos on Youtube, there is a chance that the speed coach can have negative and even harmful effect on your child’s athletic career.
If they can’t come up with an answer to any of these questions, it is likely they will fall in one of a few different categories:
They are an ex-high-level athlete who doesn’t know the first thing about speed training and how to coach. Don’t be blinded by professional athletes who decided they wanted to train. Being a high level athlete is great, but often times they were there because they were genetically gifted and/or had an appreciation for working hard. Make sure the ex-athlete is properly educated and informed on the speed and strength industry.
They are a young, over-confident coach who doesn’t have any experience or knowledge. This is the coach that just passed their certification and thinks they know everything. As a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, I can tell you I knew NOTHING about training when I passed my exam. Passing the exam was just the beginning.
They are just a wanna-be “I-looked-this-up-on-Youtube-so-now-I-know–how–to-coach-speed.” You, as the parent, who doesn’t have any experience coaching speed, could do the exact same thing at home researching speed videos on Youtube.
Finding this information out will not take much time at all, and it is worth every second. It has been shown that poor training is linked to high injury rates, while proper, well-planned training is linked to low injury rates. This is why educating yourself on the background of the coach/program is so important, and should be done first.
Step 2: Attitude
After you have checked the education, certification and/or influence of the coach(es) within the speed/strength program, you need to take note of their attitude. During a session, observe the coach’s attitude and energy. What is their body language telling you? Is it positive? Are they enthusiastic? Do they want to be there or are they just going through the motions? If you aren’t getting a good feeling about their attitude, don’t waist another second of your time or another dollar of your money. It doesn’t matter how smart or educated they are, if they don’t care about what they are doing, they definitely don’t care about your child/athlete.
I have had the privilege of playing for both types of coaches in College. My football coaches cared about me. Because they cared, I improved to levels I couldn’t imagine. Because they cared and believed in me, they empowered me to do and achieve things I never would have thought were possible. I continue to carry that mindset with me today.
My College Baseball coach didn’t care about me. During the four years I spent with this coach, I wish I could explain how much worse I became as a player. It haunts me to this day. He destroyed my confidence and worst of all, never once showed that he cared about me, or any other player in the program. After my senior year of baseball in College, it took me three years to be able to even watch baseball on T.V. The crazy part about this whole thing is that I considered baseball to be my #1 sport and passion coming into college.
With the football coaches who cared and empowered me, I was on four conference championship teams, all of which set school records and took the program to new heights. My senior year, we finished the season ranked #3 in the Nation. Personally, the coaches turned me into a 3x all-conference player, and turned me into a player who still holds multiple school records. This was my #2 sport entering college.
The reason why I am telling you this is NOT to impress you. The reason is to demonstrate the power of a coach, both positive and negative. A great coach can empower and inspire you to reach and go higher than you ever thought possible. A bad coach will keep you where you’re at, or in my case, take you backwards.
I am so thankful for both experiences, because I was able to learn on both ends of the spectrum of what, and what NOT to do as a coach.
This is the power of a coach and the power of attitude.
Step #3 Results
With any sort of speed or strength program your athlete participates in, there has to be a way to measure progress. From a speed standpoint, there should be some sort of testing done once every few months. Simple tests that can be done are the 10yard acceleration test, 40 or 60 yard sprint, 5-10-5, and vertical jump. The details of this are a whole separate subject, so if you want more, check out my blog: “6 Benefits of Speed Training for Kids. “
If the coach or program your child is in doesn’t track progress, how do you know they are actually improving performance? Looking better on the field, having more confidence, and having fun are all excellent benefits of training. However, you want to make sure there is proven results. The only way to do that is with some sort of data.
Another way to measure progress is by paying attention to the time your athlete is spending on the field. Are they always hurt , or are they staying healthy? Remember, a sign of a quality training program is resistance to injury. If they are always getting hurt, it might be time to re-evaluate the training program, or get them started with one. It doesn’t matter how talented an athlete is, if they are not on the field, they are not having fun. More time on the field = more fun.
To recap, when looking for a speed or strength program, there are three main things to research.
Certification/education- Are they staying current with the most effective training techniques?
Attitude- Remember the power of a coach, both positive and negative
Results- There needs to be a way to prove with data that your child is getting better.
I hope this blog was informative for you in some way. It can be very confusing and difficult to know what to look for, so hopefully this provided some insight. Again, if you want to learn more about why speed training is beneficial, check out my next blog: 6 Benefits of Speed Training for Kids.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Reach out to me via e-mail at Steve@beyondmeasuretraining.com.
Thanks for reading, and leave a comment below!
CSCS, XPS, Director of Training
Beyond Measure Training