Let's TBT for a moment!
It's 2006, 8th grade Ned is touring the campus of a small Catholic High School.
I was looking at playing football for the school and after the campus tour, the head coach took me on a tour of the athletic facilities.
What I saw next is something that I have seen over and over again, year after year, school after school.
It doesn't matter if the school is private or public, urban or rural, or if the rest of the school is immaculate, gold plated and state of the art, most of the athletic facilities, especially the weight rooms are subpar.
What I saw that fateful Wednesday in 2006 was something similar to the picture below:
My favorite part about this was that when we walked into the weight room the coach simply said, "It ain't much, but it gets the job done." He and my father grunted at each other like savages and we all walked out.
Here's the thing, the sad part about this story is that it's not far off from what most coaches deal with on a daily basis.
The coaches I speak to let me know that 99.9% of the time, a revamp of the weight room comes down to funding and budget, they either don't have it, or it's not enough.
I have coaches everyday go into their personal accounts to purchase equipment just so they can get something that will actually help their kids.
It's unfortunate, but it's a way of life.
But you're in luck.
I've done some R&D on what coaches I work with have done to get the funds for a weight room revamp, whether it's a full out remodel, or just tossing a Raptor on their wall, it comes down to what we call in showbiz the SEP Principle.
If you cover these three steps in your petition to the powers at be, your funds will be released or raised.
S. Safety of Your Athletes
The first order of business when speaking to the powers at be, whether it's your athletic director, your school board, or your booster club is to let them know that enhancing the weight room is a matter of safety for your athletes.
A pre season tetanus shot as a precaution shouldn't be one of the prerequisites to train in the school's weight room.
All joking aside, your first job as a strength and conditioning coach is to do no harm. You can't promise that with shoddy equipment and an overpacked or undersized space.
As equipment gets older, the risk of serious injury increases simply due to equipment failure. That not only puts your job in jeopardy, but if a parent finds out that their kid tore an ACL because your out of date leg press didn't rack properly, the school is going to be spending far more money on a lawsuit than they would have on a new Leg Press.
Beyond that, updating the weight room allows you to properly lay the room out, allowing for less clutter, tripping hazards, and just random weight room mishaps that happen in an overcrowded old space.
Beyond face value, another role of the Strength and Conditioning Specialist is injury prevention. This is done in the weight room by teaching proper technique, getting an athlete stronger in certain problem areas and just overall being able to get the athlete stronger so they can withstand more impact on the field of play.
Asking you to create athletes with the equipment you have or in a small corner room is like asking a builder to build you a house with a pick axe and duct tape.
Just as you would expect the construction workers to use state of the art equipment to build your house so it wouldn't fall down during the next summer breeze, why should we expect less than stellar equipment to build our athletes up so that they can withstand the vigors of high level athletics?
E. Efficiency of Use (and how far does the dollar stretch)
Most schools I work with give a budget to each sport individually. In some cases they can use it for whatever they need, in others it's specified what the money is for, like warm ups, jerseys, balls etc.
I bring this up, because as a strength coach you work (most of the time), with every team in the school. Your budget, or lack there of transcends beyond the weight room, onto the athlete's play on the field.
When you're asking to upgrade your weight room, safety comes first, but second is the efficiency of use of the weight room.
Unlike other budgets, your room will be used everyday, all year long.
When the football team is offseason, do they use their stadium or brand new turf? They don't. But what they do use is your weight room, your equipment and your skills.
When basketball is in season, do they still weight train? Sure do (or they sure should be).
When the underwater basket weaving team is on dry land, who do they go to to help with finger dexterity? You guessed it, You, the Strength and Conditioning Coach!
The basic premise here is that your money, as the Strength Coach goes a lot further than the money of a single team.
P. Program Enhancing Potential
Once you've spoken about safety of the athletes, efficiency of use, you have to get into the aspect of what an upgraded weight room will do for your program potential.
Here's the thing, strength and conditioning is the lifeblood of your program. Without proper preparation, your athletes aren't going to be prepared for the vigors of the season.
When athletes aren't prepared physically or mentally, they simply cannot play at 100%. An upgrade in your weight room will provide enhancements in athlete wellbeing, injury prevention and well... strength and conditioning.
When athletes are prepared properly, there are more wins on the field, less injuries and when athletes are able to get stronger, faster and more explosive, their stock goes up in the eyes of coaches at the next level.
When your program starts to win more games, maybe a state championship or two and your athletes are going to Power 5 Schools, it's going to make a lot of sense why your AD, booster club or school board put so much emphasis on the weight room.
Putting it All Together
It's pretty simple actually. If you're having trouble convincing your Athletic Director, your school board or your booster club on funding new equipment or even a complete overhaul of your current weight room, it's as easy as S.E.P.
Safety, Efficiency and Potential! It's the SEP Principle!
If you build a compelling argument around the safety of your players on and off the field, the amount of use the equipment will get across the board (the stretchability of that dollar), and the program enhancing possibilities for years to come because of a small investment, you will get your funding.
In Fact, they've done studies you know...60% of the time, the SEP Principle works every time!