Experienced Weightlifting coaches know the value of writing training programs for athletes. Yes, there are many limitations with a written program but if you want success as a coach, it is inevitable that you will spend many hours writing weightlifting programs. The task becomes particularly important when you have multiple athletes to look after, otherwise you will be faced with a constant stream of questions and you will find yourself making decisions on the spot that sometimes may be unwise. Therefore coaches need to demonstrate to their athletes that they have capability in the task of writing weightlifting programs.
Here are 5 principles to bear in mind when writing weightlifting programs:
Principle 1: Programs need to be athlete-centered
For best effect training programs need to be athlete-centered, that is focused on the actual needs of the individual athlete. While it is possible to develop and obtain some advantage from generic programs, in reality every athlete will present a unique situation for the coach. It is likely that, in any group of athletes, there will be a great many differences between individuals in terms of:
- Strengths and weaknesses in physique
- Technical development
- Time available for training
- Flexibility (range of movement)
- Training and competition experience
- Level of fitness / adaptation to training
- In jury status
- Goals and motivation
For these reasons the use of generic programs can lead to unsatisfying and possibly damaging results. Nevertheless, coaches will frequently make use of generic programs that are either developed by themselves, downloaded from the Internet or borrowed from other coaches. This is because it is far less time expensive to develop one generic program for use by several individuals than it is to develop a program specially tailored for each individual. Athletes tend not to understand or appreciate the amount of time involved in writing programs which, for some coaches, may amount to many hours per week.
Principle 2: Programs never convey sufficient information
Even well-documented training program will have gaps in the information it presents. For this reason, athletes need to be educated in how to interpret and use a program that has been developed for them.
For example, this athlete education might include:
- Using the program as a rough guide rather than a rigid set of rules
- How to make changes to the program if there are injury concerns
- What to do if you miss a session
- What happens when you suffer fatigue or soreness
- What the athlete should be thinking about as they undertake a particular exercise
- How the athlete should utilise lighter sets to work on technique, speed and flexibility
- What course of action to take if technical errors creep into training
This athlete education makes all the difference. It is quite possible to give exactly the same program to two individuals who have very similar attributes and see complete different results. One athlete may thrive on a particular program while another will think it highly ineffective. Therefore an important skill for coaches to acquire is to be able to constantly adapt training programs to the ever-changing situation of the athlete.