Efficiency is Essential in the College Weight Room
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Time is money.
This old adage resonates with people from all walks of life, but it rings even more true for anyone who’s a part of college athletics. Year after year and season after season, coaches and athletes race against the clock to prepare themselves for their next opportunity.
For many, time well spent translates into actual money, whether they are heading to the professional ranks, signing an endorsement deal, or about to be offered the job they have always dreamed of. For others, the value isn’t found in the balance of their bank accounts, but in the value they find in using the time they have to its fullest potential.
Ryan Martin, director of sports performance at Old Dominion University, is no stranger to the frantic pace of college sports. He’s spent the last decade at ODU trying to make every second count.
“We're doing everything we can to maximize the amount of time that we have,” Martin says. “Right now, we can only have the guys for eight hours. Which, in the grand scheme of things, isn't a lot. You’ve got 24 hours in a day. With academics, meeting with professors, meeting with tutors, just having their classwork. And at some point, you've got to give them a chance to have some kind of a social life.”
Student-athletes make tough choices every day about how to prioritize their time. Sometimes, putting in time at the training facility doesn’t rank very high on the list. Those who are capable of staying organized and efficient with their time are far more likely to give the weight room its due.
The same logic can be applied to how coaches structure athlete training. Coaches juggle a lot of training goals, and must be efficient with their time to give each separate area the proper attention.
“The struggle of every coach is figuring out how to put those pieces in and not take away from one,” Martin says. “Whatever you're emphasizing in your program is what you're going to get. We’re putting all of our time and energy into developing strength right now, and if that's the direction you're going to go, you've got to tailor your workouts to try to promote that. Now, all those other pieces of the puzzle, you know, restoration, mobility, speed work, change of direction, nutrition, and all those things are just as important. But you have to prioritize and structure your plan around them.”
Every coach grapples with priorities, but good coaching is more than effectively distributing time. Good coaches find ways to squeeze more time out of the limited hours they are given.
No one can magically add five extra minutes to an hour, but coaches like Martin somehow manage to do more with the same amount of time, adding value to every category of the training he tries so hard to balance.
As Martin explains, each of those categories is as important as the next – they all should be emphasized. That’s why the staff at ODU limits the amount of wasted time within their training programs. Sometimes they accomplish this with how training is structured, but they also benefit from how they have their resources laid out at their facility.
“We're on a time crunch with everything that we're doing, so the minute they walk in the door, you're on the clock,” Martin says. “You have to get a lot done in a short amount of time. The big thing for us is we pretty much have a one-stop shop with our athletes now. Within our facility, we have our weight room, we have our equipment room, we have our training room, we have academics, we have the team meeting room, and then also all the position coaches. Everything they need from that standpoint, they come over and it's in one building.”
Coaches understand these concepts, and it’s not difficult to see how having more time to invest in training would add value. However, far too many coaches don’t take the time to think about how they can become more efficient.
Making adjustments to reduce dead space in workouts, increase the natural flow from one activity to the next, and centrally locating as many resources as possible, will go a long way towards turning a struggling strength and conditioning program into an elite one.