9 Things Elite Strength Coaches Wish They Had Known When They Were High School Athletes

June 11, 2014

Must See Strength Training Videos


You may think you’re on track to make it to the next level in your sport. You put in the work on and off the field, and you follow the advice of the knowledgeable people around you.

But later in life, you'll probably look back at your athletic career and regret areas where you could’ve improved. Maybe if you made one change to how you approached your sport, you would have led your team to a championship—or better yet, had the opportunity to play for your dream college program.

Most, if not all, athletes experience such feelings at some point, because no one is perfect. But to help you avoid some of the mistakes that others have made, we spoke with nine elite strength coaches to learn what they wish they had done differently when they were high school athletes.

1. Practice, Practice, Practice

Mike Boyle: The one thing I’d tell you is that practice matters. I was a swimmer. I loved racing and hated practicing. I lived race to race. I wanted to win my race that weekend, so come mid-week, all I was thinking about was saving energy to race on the weekend. I didn’t think about the idea that I was building toward that race. Our coaches didn’t do a good enough job explaining to us that we are building toward a championship. I had a very short-sighted and day-to-day view, and I probably didn’t really appreciate the value of practice. I thought you went to practice because you had to in order to play in games. You just view it as a necessary evil.

WATCH: Elite Performance With Mike Boyle 

2. You Need to Recover

Nick Winkelman: Training hard was expected, but recovery was not. We received no education on the use of hydrotherapy, foam rolling, stretching, sleep habits, nutrition, etc. While I got great results through my junior year in school, I believe those results could have been further augmented through regimented recovery strategies. At the time, the known recovery strategies were not used unless you were a high-level college or pro athlete.

3. Surround Yourself With Like-Minded Individuals

Tony Gentilcore: I was from a very small town, and there were not many guys in my area who were into fitness. I basically did everything on my own. So, the one thing I have to say is that it’s a huge benefit to have people you can go to and say, “Let’s go lift.” That would’ve been very beneficial for me. [The right] training environment is huge. You can talk sets and reps, and ideal training splits, but a good environment can make the difference. If you’re around like-mind individuals, then you’ll have better progress.

4. Don't Overlook Injury Prevention

Eric Cressey: I'd tell my younger self that just because you're not hurting doesn't mean that you aren't on a fast track to being in pain. In other words, it's important to do your preventative maintenance training—rotator cuff drills, scapular stability exercises, mobility work, etc.—before it's too late. Overlooking these important inclusions in a training program can set you up for injuries during your athletic career, as well as long-term problems as your fitness plans evolve over the course of your life. As the saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

5. No Program is Complete Without the Big Lifts

Mike Robertson: I wish I knew that real strength work—specifically squatting and deadlifting—would improve my performance. I was “coached” by a guy who only trained legs with machines, and as such, my maximal strength in my lower body was sorely lacking. As soon as I added the big lifts into my routine, my athleticism skyrocketed and I saw huge improvements in my performance.

RELATED: 13 Fitness Challenges That Will Destroy You

6. Going Heavy is Not Always the Answer

Mark Roozen: I can remember we had a quote up on our wall in the high school weight room: “GO HEAVY OR GO HOME!” Every time we went in the weight room, we tried to see how much more we could lift on the Bench, Squat or whatever exercise we were doing that day. I wish back then I would have had a better understanding of program design and how to create a plan. Having a better understanding of how to put the whole performance package together would have made a huge impact on what we did and how we performed on the field, court or track.

7. You Need To Vary Your Workouts

Rick Scarpulla: The one thing I wish I knew about training in high school is that you can’t work the same body part or do the same exercise every day to gain size or strength. We would bench every day, yet we couldn’t figure out why our numbers never went up. I think we only did the same six or seven exercises, and we’d wonder why our elbows and shoulders hurt. Oh yeah, and I had a coach who told me that Squats make you slower.

8. Supplements Are Not Guaranteed to Make You Stronger 

Nick Tumminello: My mother was a bodybuilder in the 80s and 90s, so I was lucky to grow up with a solid direction when it came to weight training, good form, rest, training splits, etc. I also had great wrestling coaches in high school who were smart when it came to conditioning. So, I'd say, when I look back, the thing I was naive about was supplements. I spent lots of money—I hardly had any money, like most high school students—on supplements. I thought that they must work because they were promoted in bodybuilding magazines, which I read furiously.

9. Training Involves More Than Just Lifting Weight

Duane Carlisle: I wish I knew how to put it all together. For instance, how to integrate nutrition, recovery and regeneration, and differentiate the different aspects of movement training. Another thing, I wish I knew how to warm up properly. We would go out and do a few things [to warm up.] There are so many more effective methods now. Ignoring these factors will make your workouts not nearly as effective.

RELATED: 7 Reasons Your Workouts Don't Work

Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is the Performance Director at STACK. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Miami...
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is the Performance Director at STACK. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Miami...
Must See
Antonio Brown Juggles 3 Footballs Antonio Brown Juggles 3 Footballs
Views: 1,214,299
NFL Wide Receiver Randall Cobb Outworks Everyone NFL Wide Receiver Randall Cobb Outworks Everyone
Views: 33,809,797
Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,312,183

Featured Videos

Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling Views: 1,175,887
Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Views: 71,092
Basketball Shooting Drill With Kevin Love: 5 Spots, 5 Shots Basketball Shooting Drill With Kevin Love: 5 Spots, 5 Shots Views: 245,612
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 5,845,858
Colby Lewis's Four-Seam Fastball Technique Colby Lewis's Four-Seam Fastball Technique
Views: 5,017,563
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,499,251
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 11,442,976
Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall
Views: 3,362,836

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
How to Get More Out of the Dumbbell Press

How to Get More Out of the Dumbbell Press

Chest day. It's the best day of the week for many lifters. Although Bench Press is often the centerpiece of chest day, the Dumbbell Press should not be...

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

How to Perform the Farmer's Walk with Dumbbells

How to Perform the Farmer's Walk with Dumbbells

Wrestlers: Improve Double-Leg Takedowns With Sled Pushes

Wrestlers: Improve Double-Leg Takedowns With Sled Pushes

A Simple 6-Exercise Core Workout

A Simple 6-Exercise Core Workout

How to Build Arm Strength for Baseball Before Your Season

How to Build Arm Strength for Baseball Before Your Season

Know Your Row: The Pros and Cons of 8 Different Back Exercises

Know Your Row: The Pros and Cons of 8 Different Back Exercises

Advanced Anti-Rotation Core Strengthening Exercises

Advanced Anti-Rotation Core Strengthening Exercises

Battle Rope Workout That Will Get You Shredded

Battle Rope Workout That Will Get You Shredded

Keep Your Workouts Simple for Better Results

Keep Your Workouts Simple for Better Results

How to Fix Back Rounding When Deadlifting

How to Fix Back Rounding When Deadlifting

Why Your Instagram Box Jump Isn't That Impressive

Why Your Instagram Box Jump Isn't That Impressive

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

5 Training Ideas You Should Steal From the NFL's Best

5 Training Ideas You Should Steal From the NFL's Best

Build Explosive Strength with This Olympic Weightlifting Program

Build Explosive Strength with This Olympic Weightlifting Program

German Volume Training: How to Pack on Muscle Mass

German Volume Training: How to Pack on Muscle Mass

Why the Clean Pull is Perfect for Athletes

Why the Clean Pull is Perfect for Athletes

8 Cures for a Weak Grip

8 Cures for a Weak Grip

Improve Your Power With These Hardcore Methods

Improve Your Power With These Hardcore Methods

The Most American Workout Ever

The Most American Workout Ever

Why Everything You Know About Core Training is Wrong

Why Everything You Know About Core Training is Wrong

3 Barbell-Only, Full-Body Workout Programs for Any Fitness Goal

3 Barbell-Only, Full-Body Workout Programs for Any Fitness Goal

8 Ways to Use a Weight Vest in Your Workouts

8 Ways to Use a Weight Vest in Your Workouts

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

Is CrossFit Appropriate for Basketball Players?

Is CrossFit Appropriate for Basketball Players?

Are You Loading Barbells Wrong?

Are You Loading Barbells Wrong?

Why Every Athlete Should Do Farmer's Walks

Why Every Athlete Should Do Farmer's Walks

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

7 Trap Bar Exercises You Should Try

7 Trap Bar Exercises You Should Try

Olympian Carrie Tollefson's Core Workout

Olympian Carrie Tollefson's Core Workout

Austen Lane's Complete NFL Workout

Austen Lane's Complete NFL Workout

Strengthen Your Core With 2 Simple Anti-Rotational Exercises

Strengthen Your Core With 2 Simple Anti-Rotational Exercises

Everything You Need to Know About Using Farmer's Walk Handles

Everything You Need to Know About Using Farmer's Walk Handles

Duncan Keith's Stanley Cup MVP Training

Duncan Keith's Stanley Cup MVP Training

Build Strength with Kettlebell Sandbags

Build Strength with Kettlebell Sandbags

YardBarker