Building a strength and conditioning program is time consuming. Building a custom program for each individual athlete is even more so, and it's usually unrealistic. However, that doesn't have to be the case. Individual workout routines in a team setting are possible, necessary, and not as difficult to put together as you might think.
Before we get into building these workout routines, it is important to realize why custom programs are necessary. Many young athletes have never worked out before and have no idea what they're doing. Others have a few years of experience and have reached an advanced level. Therefore, it's necessary to be prepared for and to accommodate athletes in your training program based on their level of experience and their individual capabilities.
So, without further ado, here is a 4-step program for building customized team workouts.
Step 1: Assessment
The first thing you need to do as a coach is perform some sort of assessment on your players. You need to see how well they move. The Functional Movement Screen is an excellent tool, but not everyone is familiar with it. At a minimum, a basic assessment of Air Squats, Push-Ups, Bodyweight Lunges and Planks should be performed. Watch how the players move. Do their knees fall in when they Squat? Do they lean forward excessively or shift onto their toes? Can they do at least 10 full-range Push-Ups with good form? These are some of the questions that need to be asked and answered during the assessment.
Step 2: Build a List
The only way you can customize a program for each player is to build a list of exercises that are related to each other (e.g., progressions and regressions.) For example, the list for Squats should look something like this: Bodyweight Squat, Goblet Squat, Bulgarian Goblet Squat, Front Squat, Box Squat, Back Squat. These are all progressions with the Back Squat as the end goal. This is necessary for every primary lift, because not every athlete will be ready to put weight on a bar and lift it.
Step 3: Assign Athletes To Exercises
Once you have your assessments and your progressions/regressions figured out, you can assign a variation of a major lift to each athlete based on his or her capabilities. Do not be surprised if most of your younger athletes start with bodyweight exercises. In fact, that's where young athletes should start. As they improve, they can progress down the list. Just be careful not to progress them too fast and have them doing things they're not ready for.
Step 4: Build The Program
This is the part you're already used to. You can still build a single program for the entire group; however, each player will have his or her individual version of the workout because of their progression/regression assignments. For example, your lower-body day may look something like this:
This method uses different colors for different exercise variations. Each athlete is assigned a color according to the exercise. One way to make this easy is to post a sheet on the wall with each athlete's name and 1RM on it, written in the the color of the exercise they are supposed to do. For example, if the Squat sheet has John Smith's name in red, that means Mr. Smith will be doing Box Squats. If it has Sarah Jones in yellow on the Power Clean sheet, Ms. Jones will be doing Clean Pulls that day.
This is an easy and effective system for progressing athletes and customizing a program based on individual capabilities. The accessory exercises can all be the same for each athlete. Only the primary exercises must have progressions and regressions. Just remember to assign your athletes to the proper level at the beginning and do not progress them too fast.
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