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Running a High School Female Strength and Speed Program

Mark Hoover
Oct 17, 2017

At Piedmont High, we have put a special focus on increasing our numbers of female athletes participating in our year-round sports performance program.

Up to this year, we had a female “weightlifting class." That class was often a 50/50 split of athletes and the general population. We felt that we needed to expand that into the same areas we did for our male athletes. Our administration makes an effort to place our males by teams into classes made up of the vast majority student-athletes.

Starting this Fall, we have two full classes the same 90-minute block. It is team-taught by myself and our softball coach. Although we have a mix, the students all understand the point of this class is “sports performance”.

One area we have seen an incredible improvement in with our males is injury rate. Meanwhile, our female athletes had continued to see injuries at an unacceptable and avoidable rate. As we presented our ideas to expand our program, this data was crucial.

While we knew we can reduce injuries and improve performance with strength training, our focus is not traditional “strength." Much of what we do is influenced by Coach Gary Schofield and other members of the NHSSCA. I can’t really share what we do without crediting Gary and our #Family at the NHSSCA. We do lift weights and use loads relative in intensity to our males. However, our program is built on our hierarchy of CORE VALUES we have set up for our program. Those values are:

  1. LEAD, INSPIRE AND DEVELOP YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN OF CHARACTER
  2. MAKE OUR ATHLETES INJURY RESISTENT
  3. MOVE WELL
  4. GET STRONGER
  5. GET QUICKER AND MORE EXPLOSIVE
  6. THRIVE

From that set of core values we have designed all our programming. Therefore our main programming focus for our females relies heavily on #2 and #3 with “get stronger” being a function of those and not the driving force.

Our warm ups are a direct reflection of that. We probably “warm up” more than some. However, for us that is the time to teach that movement and strengthen the techniques and small details that will lead to #4 and #5 translating to the field/court for our athletes. Our females had dysfunction in several areas that we felt need addressed. These include running technique, deceleration and reacceleration, bracing body weight, ACL and posterior chain strength. Our warm ups reflect these needs daily. If there was only time to do one thing, we would choose this time. Three weeks into the class and we are already seeing great improvements in all areas.

I hope this small look into our program is helpful. I am glad to discuss this further. Please feel free to contact us here at Piedmont High School. Thanks to Hewitt and Teambuildr for providing this opportunity.

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