5 Challenges faced in high-school programs

For this blog post I thought I would share my experiences in working in the high-school environments. For those who don’t know my background I have worked as an S&C coordinator at both Westfields Sports High School and Newington College from 2009-present.

1. Top Down Approach

As Cliché’ as this sounds it does start from the top. As an S&C coach it is important to have the full support of your boss (usually the sports coordinator/master), because when decisions get made it is they who have the final say. All directors have their visions for their sports and it is you who will come to an agreement with them at the decision of the sports coordinator.

2. Director Relationships

I can’t stress enough the transparency of your communication with coaching directors. It is how you provide the services that compliment their programs in the capacity they see fit. It is not up to them to align with your S&C philosophy in revolutionising the world of S&C. The bottom line they are athletes in their sport for a reason, try and apply the icing on the cake to compliment the coaches desires. Frequent honest communication may not necessarily always align, but it will enable both parties to strengthen their sides of the program and the outcomes of the athletes.

3. Coaching Team

Most if not all S&C coaches at some point want/have wanted to work in professional sport. Whilst that may be the light at the end of the tunnel, it comes at a big cost. The stakes are far greater, one oversight may cost you your job and the flow on effect of that. Whilst the younger students have significantly less injury history, imbalances, bulk in the wrong places, and movement deficiencies engrained. There is no better environment to hone your skills as a strength and conditioning coach. Choose coaches willing to learn, and embrace an environment where failure isn’t loss of face but rather encouraged by the opportunities presented. One thing to remember and this may need to be highlighted to other coaching staff across sports is you are working in a development programme, not a watered down professional outfit.

4. Institution Based Programs

At one point or another you are going to have an athlete come to you/or be taken away as part of a selective institute. In instances as with High Schools many of these institutes don’t have the time to closely monitor every individual athletes coming in and out of their programs based on coaching decisions. These institute programs will always be seeking the best in their programs and for their athletes, it’s up to you to monitor your athletes and how they fit within it. Put your ego aside and do what you can to support the development of your athlete. If it means they sit out of one of your sessions- then do it. At the end of the day you will more than likely have to pick up where you left off with your athlete, so continue educating them, communicating about their progress and the outcome will be far more positive then both trying to pull at a broken athlete with both sides trying to point the finger.

5. Parents

Parents can be your biggest supporters or well-meaning adversaries. You are the professional in your field, whilst they are seeking the best for their child. Some are more passionate than others but the common theme is both parent and you the coach want the best for them. Always listen to their desires no matter how many times you have heard their child is the next big thing in the sporting arena… but most importantly respect it. With respect comes choices in their child’s best interest and communication from you will gain further support- it is a win: win. A parent is never wrong with their desires for their child, it is up to you as their coach to educate and guide the parental enthusiasm in the right direction.

© 2017 by Nathan Parnham

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