- Online Training
It has been 6 months since I have made the transition from using Microsoft Excel to TeamBuildr for programming my strength and conditioning sessions and tracking athlete’s progress. I usually give a product at least 4-6 months before I make a decision about it and it is clear TeamBuildr has made a favorable impact on my coaching.
I am usually the type of person who tries to shy away from the "latest and greatest" updates in technology, but this sports coaching software has proved to be a platform which simply has made my life easier.
In my current position, I am responsible for the design and implementation of strength and conditioning programs for 106 athletes. In my first year in my position, I attacked programming the typical way any strength and conditioning coach would: Microsoft Excel and a bunch of sheets and workbooks. I unfortunately killed way too many trees during that first year printing off 106 sheets of paper every 3-4 weeks.
I kept these workout sheets in folders that became overflowing by the end of each quarter and an all-around terrible look. While I did the best I could to include formulas to track the major lifts, it was a tedious process keeping track of accessory lifts and it drained me every time I needed to update a sheet or print off the next block of training.
Enter TeamBuildr, where all of our information is now stored electronically. Luckily, we have 8 iPads where our athletes are able to access the TeamBuildr platform which allows our workouts to run smoothly when 40 athletes are in the weight room. Each athlete’s weights are self-entered into the app, as well as any individualized exercises they may have.
The history tab is essentially an online journal which makes it easy for the athlete to see their progress on a particular exercise. If an exercise is percentage-based, the athlete will scroll through the sets showing their individual weights. If the athlete is feeling good during that particular session, they are able to manually enter a new weight which is reflective in the reports I use to view the progress of our training sessions and it can create a new training max.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, some of my athletes have individualized exercises programmed which are specific to their needs based off of assessments or specific to their event groups. For example, when working with my throws group, I typically will provide special strength exercises that may be specific to the shot put, hammer, or javelin throws. All throwers are completing a similar periodization plan based off the “parent calendar,” but have their nuances in exercise selection for variations of the squat, pressing movements, and other accessory lifts.
I have the option to view each athlete’s calendar individually and make the changes or I can make a sub-calendar for our shot putters, hammer throwers, and javelin throwers where the main program is pulled from the parent calendar.
While this may not sound like a big deal and easily can be completed on Excel, I believe it has simplified the process of individualizing an athlete’s program by saving time since you are working off a parent calendar. With TeamBuildr, I also do not have to worry about creating various Excel workbooks for each of the event groups which is something I have done in the past. This caused me to have multiple sheets for the same micro cycle which made tracking data difficult at times as well.
How many coaches stress over designing summer and winter packets only to have a quarter of your athletes actually open the training document? I know I have. I spent a lot of time designing elaborate training calendars, notes, and instructions only to have a handful of my athletes actually complete the programmed workouts. The excuses were typically:
Since implementing TeamBuildr, I have had numerous athletes tell me they look forward to training over their designated breaks. Most of my athletes nearly always have a smart phone on them, and having their workouts in an app where they can track exercises simplifies the training process.
As a coach, you can link videos of exercise demonstrations as well which can be a game changer for those athletes who forgot the name of an exercise and how it is performed. The opt-out section allows the athlete to substitute a similar exercise if they are lacking equipment. The notes section can be very beneficial for those athletes who like to provide detailed notes of how they are feeling that particular day or how certain movements are feeling following an injury.
I think it is an all too common scenario when an athlete is rehabbing from an injury and a strength and conditioning coach is programming very similar, if not the same, exercises as the athletic trainer or physical therapist in their sessions with the athlete. This can result in the athlete experiencing too much volume or a monotony in exercises.
If the athlete is set to perform bilateral squats with the strength coach, does the athlete really need to perform more of the same bilateral squats with the physical therapist later that day? Probably not and this is where the communication of TeamBuildr can help.
The physical therapist or athletic trainer can see what exercises the athlete may have already been performing that day and can focus on a different quality or exercise like unilateral squatting or tri-planar proprioceptive work. Likewise, the athlete may be performing 100 reps of bodyweight glute bridges with the physical therapist. To change things up for the sake of the athlete and provide novelty, perhaps the strength coach can have the athlete do a variation of the bridging instead like a single leg bridge, feet/shoulder elevated bridges, or change the movement to an exercise that is similar like a 45 degree back extension.
We have allowed our physical therapists and athletic trainers to access the app to provide exercises and stretches to our athletes. They have added exercises which are specific to the qualities they are training and have labeled them PT, which does not get mixed up with our strength training exercises. I believe this simplifies the process for the athlete as their strength training and physical therapy exercises are accessed via the same platform.
Sharpen the Saw is one of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as created by Stephen Covey. It means to have balance for self-renewal in four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual. I believe this is the greatest asset in becoming a successful strength and conditioning coach.
I love coaching, designing training programs, and reading about training as much as any other strength and conditioning coach. However, I greatly appreciate free time and the ability to spend my free time doing what I want to do. In the past, I spent way too much time designing a training template that did not have any impact on how I was coaching my athletes. It simply looked cool and looking cool does not equal effectiveness.
In the past, I would dedicate 3-4 hours on 1-2 Sundays a month making sure all of my plans are in order and printed off for the upcoming week or cycle. I typically already work Saturdays year round, and now this was causing me a 7th day to go into the office and work. This meant time away from my girlfriend, my friends, and at times, it can cost you your sanity as well.
Using TeamBuildr has allowed me to greatly reduce the amount of time I spent programming in the past and use that time where it matters. I no longer have to go into the office and spend time updating programs or printing off sheets. I am able to work remotely if necessary and I do not have to waste time printing papers or updating templates.
This software has allowed me to spend more quality time with my girlfriend, explore the city, catch up with friends, watch sports, read something outside of strength and conditioning, or simply just enjoy a day to myself. Having this balance will ultimately improve your ability to connect with your athletes and improve your ability to excel as a coach.
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