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Communication Breakdown: The High School Strength Coach, The Parent and The Private Sports Performance Coach

Brett Kuehn

The high school athlete wants to be successful in their respective sport as well as in the weight room and to be great these athletes in some cases need to train outside of the high school weight room. Most of the time these athletes will end up going to a private sports performance facility at the recommendation of parents or the student-athletes peers.

I completely understand that parents want the best for their children and if they can pay to help their kid be more athletic, they will do it. I don’t see an issue with athletes training outside of the high school if it’s done properly, the programming is aligned to benefit the athlete, and the athlete is not being over trained. However, I’m sure most can agree that there are still some concerns from the parents, trainers, coaches and even the athlete. 

You can imagine it’s frustrating for the high school strength coach and the sports performance coach when they find out one of their athletes is training with multiple coaches. The high school strength coach job is to develop programming to reduce injury as well as increase athletic performance. They develop long-term programs that include variation and rest. The sports performance coaches’ job is to do the same, but at the same time the athlete and parent impatiently need to see results in order to continue with the coach. This sometimes leads to over training the athlete, burnout and high risk for injury. 

When is it appropriate for an athlete to train at both the high school and the private facility? If a school doesn’t have a qualified and designated strength and conditioning coach it makes sense to have the child train at a sports performance facility with a professional. Sports-specific clinics are another example of when it’s appropriate. These clinics tend to focus on the skills and dynamics of the specific sport out of season. 

If a student-athlete does train at the HS and a private facility how can the HS coach, the parent and the private coach help alleviate some concerns? These concerns can start to be addressed if the high school strength coach and the sports performance coach have open communication about the programming for the individual athlete. It’s much easier said than done, and if the egos can be set aside both coaches can focus on what really matters, the athlete’s long-term athletic development. Assuming both coaches are qualified and the parents aware of their child’s training there are a few ways to open this communication.

  • Provide the program from both the high school coach and the sports performance coach to ensure the athlete is not being over trained. Imagine being a 9th grader doing squats at school in the morning and then seeing squats prescribed at the sports performance facility that evening.   
  • Setup a call between the parent, HS coach, and the sports performance coach. This is not easy but it’s probably the best option so that both coaches can discuss the athlete’s long-term development all while keeping the parent informed.  
  • Some sports performance facilities have Facebook groups for parents and athletes to ask questions about the programming or general questions about the training. The HS coach can be invited to stay informed.  

I completely understand these methods are not easy and they make take some self-restraint to not criticize and question a coach’s method (especially if they’re not qualified), but just try to keep in mind the end goal is to benefit the athlete. Parents are going to continue to want to provide the best for their child and the unaware parents may over due it, but it’s up to the coaches to come together and have an open line of communication that’s goal is for the safety of the athlete.   

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