Every coach is unique and has his or her own philosophy and methodology. As important as proper training programs are, creating a great culture and philosophy are just as significant.
Many coaches—like Bryan Mann, Coach G, Todd Hamer and Donald Day—contribute to EliteFTS to talk about their unique philosophies and how they apply them to their training programs. Additionally, Eric Cressey preaches that a great culture will outlast a great training program, and that it is important to build a great environment before making a great program.
Having learned about culture from knowing these coaches or reading their posts, I have continually refined my ideal culture. As a coach, I am here to continually improve athletes, but I also want to give them the ability to coach themselves and their peers. My goals are to develop athletes both athletically and ethically. With this, I have developed the F.E.E.D system.
F.E.E.D stands for Familiarize, Empower, Excel and Deload. When using this system with a four-week program, each word corresponds to a specific week.
In week one, athletes and coaches familiarize themselves with the program, and it is imperative that coaches teach the program as well as possible during that week.
The following week, coaches can back off some, and let athletes become comfortable as individuals working on the program themselves and helping their teammates.
In the third week, athletes are at their strongest, and they excel because they know the program and have the confidence to succeed throughout each lift.
Finally in week four, athletes deload, because every once in awhile it’s necessary to back off and recover in order to see maximal improvements over time. This principle also applies to longer programs; it’s just that each phase extends a little bit longer.
The same concepts also apply to the athletes off the field in their personal lives. As a coach, it is important for me to teach young athletes how to be their best selves, then to step back and watch them grow. With this, they can become great athletes, coaches and people, which is exactly what the goal of a strength coach should be. Keep your athletes hungry, and always let them FEED.