Managing a Multisport High School Strength Training Schedule

About the Author: Adam Reed is the associate editor of AFCA Magazine. The American Football Coaches Association is the only national organization dedicated to improving football coaches through ongoing education, interaction, and networking. The AFCA and Hammer Strength have teamed up to provide insights into the coaching profession, elite athletic programs, and more.

Coach John Garrish The weight room at North Broward Preparatory School in Coconut Creek, Fla., is a busy place. John Garrish, the school’s director of athletic development and performance, sticks to a strict schedule to cycle the various athletes from the many offered sports through the facility.

Garrish estimates he sees 100-150 students on a given day, including the 40 or so athletes on the football roster. While these may seem like standard numbers, Garrish says the strength program is 100 percent voluntary. Of course, as he adds, “football is football and those are the guys who understand the importance of training and their coaches do as well, so they know the expectation is to attend.”

But, North Broward Prep is a private school that doesn’t cut any athletes. So, there is a line between “voluntary” and “mandatory.”

When he started at the school in the summer of 2014, he was scheduling every sports team with their own training times, including hockey, lacrosse, football, soccer, basketball, and several girls groups. He quickly figured out it wasn’t what his students wanted.

“I’d see these groups, and with the exception of football, they’d be tiny and the atmosphere wasn’t as exciting or passionate as I wanted. And, I would run myself into the ground,” Garrish said, adding that by the late afternoon of those summer days, he’d be exhausted. Plus, athletes asked why they couldn’t train with their friends who were in different sports. So, he condensed the groups into: football and basketball; rotational (a combination of boys sports such as baseball, lacrosse, soccer and hockey); and a girls group.

It made a lot of sense to him, and Garrish decided to go the conventional route of having the largest, most intense group (football/basketball) as his first of the day, followed by the other male athletes then finishing with the females. Once again, he learned a lesson, which caused a shift in his thinking.

“I was drained after the first group, I could power my way through the next boys group and then when the girls came in, I felt like my energy wasn’t there,” Garrish remembers. “And, I wanted to make sure our ladies know they are a priority for our program. So, I wanted to be available to them when I was in my best coaching and teaching mindset.”

Now in the summers, he has the female athletes arrive first (7:30 a.m.) followed by the football/basketball group (9 a.m.) and finally the rotational athletes (11 a.m.). He says this works well for him because the female students bring a positive vibe to every workout, which rubs off on him and allows the day to start on the right foot.

During the football offseason, he keeps the same schedule with the girls getting first crack at training immediately after school. This allows the girls to get that sense of priority again and, “I know the football guys will stick around for an hour after school (for a chance) to lift, even in the offseason.”

Garrish says this scheduling system has worked, and he has seen a dramatic increase in numbers across the board during the last couple years, which is impressive for a voluntary program.

“That’s where I measure our success. Are those kids seeing enough value and enjoying their time enough to attend not just one time, but continue and return throughout their four years at our school.”