For the last week I was out in Los Angeles visiting with some of our VertiMax community. It was a truly an amazing experience. I was able to meet with some amazing strength coaches in and around LA and visit some of the best programs and facilities in the nation.
On the last 2 days of my trip to the west coast, I was able to attend the National High School Strength and Conditioning Association Pacific Region Conference at Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, CA.
There were about 60 coaches in attendance, each of whom got to spend the weekend, learning, growing and networking.
The following article is going to recap the weekend, but just in case you don't want to read, I will give you the TLDR version.
If you are in sports performance or strength and conditioning, go to the NHSSCA website, find the nearest state or regional conference and go sign up immediately.
It's an amazing learning experience and will help you as a coach, but more importantly it will help your athletes and their experience in your program.
Coach Joe Morales and his staff facilitated one hell of a weekend which started with an exceptional pre-conference event. This was called "Spend a Day In High School Sports Performance"
It's just how it sounds. We were brought in and heard from 3 top notch coaches, Coach Morales, Coach Christian Lozon, Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at Orange Lutheran and Coach Nick Garcia, Head Strength Coach at Notre Dame High School, then spent the day just as a performance coach would at Orange Lutheran High School.
Coach Morales spoke briefly on creating a bulletproof strength program. This was all about the organizational structure beyond the sets, reps and weights. His presentation was about finding all the steps that go into getting from A to B. We know how to get a kid stronger, but how do we do it in a way that resonates with the athlete, is safe, efficient and effective.
From there, Coach Lozon spoke about "Game Like Speed and Conditioning", where he spoke about his purpose in how he trains the OLu athletes in Speed and Agility. He gave his exact model for training athletes in speed and agility in the time crunched environment that most coaches understand. "You may have 45 minutes with these athletes, you may have 30... the question is where do we fit some aspect of this into our program?"
After coach Lozon, Nick Garcia from Notre Dame High School gave us his entire year long Macro Cycle for his athletes. He broke it down into reps, sets, intensities and everything that goes into a proper program. It was his template that has produced some of the top track throwers and sprinters not only in California, but in the country!
If I said that was the end of Day 1, I would be ok with it, but from there we got to be a part of the OLu training that day as the athletes came in for their specific training sessions.
We got to be a part of the men's basketball training and softball. We were able to interact, ask questions and network with our peers.
The rest of the day was spent growing our knowledge, experiencing a top notch program and taking in aspects each individual coach could bring back to their program.
When the school day ended the rest of the speakers were up for day one! We had Dan Berman speak about real world application of injury prevention and how he has created one of the most effective and safe strength programs in California.
And we ended the day with Mark Wine of De La Salle High School giving a hands on Olympic Lifting session.
Prior to heading to the platforms Mark mentioned something that really resonated with me. He said "Everything for me is about how does this apply to athletics, how does this apply to speed, to power... this isn't just about weightlifting, this is more than that."
The amount I learned in one day was enough for me to go back to our high school community and offer expert advice. Here's the thing, we had another whole day ahead of us.
Day 2 brought as much fire as day 1. We started off with Carl Galloway giving the exact steps to get Athletic Director buy-in for your program. Carl is the Athletic Director at Vista Murrieta High School, and was actually previously the Director of Sports Performance at Orange Lutheran. It was great getting an AD's perspective on what they need to see, hear and understand to buy-into a strength program. The premise of the talk was to bring solutions. You are the expert, so you come to the AD with solutions to the problem you have, and explain it in numbers and metrics the AD cares about. It was an extremely powerful talk to start the day off.
From there Jeff Crelling talked about Trust and Training. He brought 2 case studies in which he overcame push back from sports coaches in his program. It was a brilliant talk as I'm sure you've all experienced the exact scenario in your program. My take away from his talk was "Don't expect to be given something unless you've given first." Coach Crelling talked about the exact challenges, solutions to those specific challenges and sacrifices that had to be made in order to create new allies to his program.
After Coach Crelling, we got an in depth coaching session from coach Ka'ai Spencer, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Hawaii Prep Academy. He spoke about Plyometric Progressions and if you haven't, check out a live posting of his training here! Ka'ai's coaching was phenomenal, relevant and refreshing. He brought his personality to the table and created an environment of fun learning. He has some very lucky athletes!
Prior to our last speaker, we had a 2 hour networking session. One of the highlights of the entire weekend in my opinion. We all fellowshipped, broke bread and shared tactics, programming and knowledge with one another. It was phenomenal. This is something that I believe every conference needs.
Not 15 minutes here or 15 minutes there, but an intentional mid day conversation where you can speak with and enjoy the time with the individuals that are here for the same reason you are.
To end the day, Frank Wintrich, the Director of Football Performance at UCLA came in and spoke about his philosophies and the way that he and the staff at UCLA football have created one of the premier performance programs in College Football.
My biggest take away from Coach Wintrich was that you have to be progressional in everything you do. "Start with A, then go to B, then go to C. There's nothing sexy about that. But once we do that and we master these progressions the sky becomes the limit." If you ever get the chance to be around Coach Wintrich, take full advantage of it, top notch coach, and amazing human being!
The amount of information that was presented, shared and taken from this event was above and beyond my expectations.
In my opinion if you coach athletes, whether it is in a school or in a private setting, you should be going to these events.
I couldn't be more excited for the next event or the National Conference in Nashville June 28-29th! I hope to see you there!
Until Next Time