3 Mistakes High School Coaches Can Make in the Weight Room

Mistakes can appear without coaches knowing. Most of the time these mistakes pop up out of the air from other habits created outside of the weight room and are brought in to the weight room. We will focus on a few mistakes in the weight room that can help improve a team’s performance by leaps and bounds if coaches will apply these methods.

Weight Room Mistake Number 1- Not Enough Testing

They don’t do enough testing. No, not strength testing! High School Coaches hammer the strength test. There is no movement screen, no performance testing, and no mental or emotional testing.  Coaches do an awesome job analyzing video from practice and games. They grade athletes and the team and design their future practices based on the video. So why don’t coaches do the same thing in the weight room?

After testing. Then what? Put the records up and move on? Hope not…The main objective of testing is to give insight into what to do for the future of the program.

What is the WHY behind testing? Are you testing for strength, power, speed, explosiveness? Are you testing for it or are you doing the same test as everyone else does without knowing why you are doing it?


Sometimes we test not knowing what outcome we are looking for. If we test for strength we must test for strength. Like 1RM of Back Squat or 3RM of Bench Press, not Back Squat to exhaustion or Vertical Jump.

Use more testing knowing what your overall goals are for the assessments. We always do a movement screen, strength test with 1RMs and performance assessments for speed agility and power. Then we analyze the data and see where some deficiencies are based on the numbers. Next we build programs based off those numbers and the data analysis to continue our progress.

Movement Screens can tell coaches how well athletes move or don’t move. The screens can even tell coaches who is at higher risk for injury and who isn’t. This information can be a valuable commodity when it comes to the success or lack of success for teams. I don’t know many teams that can afford to lose a starter.

Weight Room Mistake Number 2-Not knowing the “WHY” behind the program

There are many questions behind a good strength and conditioning program. These questions need to be answered before implementing a program from the nearest successful university team.

  1. What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to build athletes or just make a stronger athlete?
  2. What goals would make a successful off season program?
  3. What does the end product look like? Get the 30,000 foot view first and then work your way back.


Get a 12 Month Calendar. Sit down with the coaches and ask them what they envision the team to look like in a year and how you will accomplish these goals. Do you need to keep them after school? Can you work everyone out together? What does summer workouts look like? The more details are discussed the better the program will be. Where will the breaks be? How will they be held accountable away from the school? Will the athletes be held accountable? Is there a plan for injured athletes? Or do they just sit out? Are there coaches responsible for specific jobs in the strength program or do they just wonder around and shoot the bull with the other coaches (this is one of the biggest issues I see).

Hint…After you are done there should be some changes in the program. Changes in intensity, volume, variation, and some differences in training will occur. You and your coaches will enjoy the program much better because there will be some ownership of this program. It will be yours and that will take your team a long way!


Weight Room Mistake Number 3- Doing the same thing as everyone else

If you are doing the same thing as all the other programs how much better will you be than everyone else? You wont! If you want to gain an edge on the competition you have to think outside the box. Find experts that can help. Ask their opinion. I have been in this field a long time and I seek others advice very often. And BE DIFFERENT!



I have been at many high schools in Alabama. And many coaches try to give me the excuse of “time”. “Coach, we just don’t have enough time”. My response is always, “what is your goal?”. They would say,”we need to be stronger than _____” or “faster than ____”. If you want to be stronger or faster than your opponent you have to spend more time on those characteristics. If you want to have a team that breaks the rushing record or want to be the leading passing team in your conference then you need to design your program, educate your coaches, and implement a plan that creates success in those goals. How much of the practice or workout are you spending on those characteristics? If the outcome is less than 60% start over and design a system that creates the results you are looking for.

Have something the athletes can believe in. If you don’t believe they won’t believe. Find things that can motivate athletes. New software that tracks performance. Setting goals can help. What can you do to help the athletes? Record boards? T-Shirts? Team competitions?

At the end of the day if you work harder than the opponent and spend more time than the opponent on the things that matter. You will be better than your opponent. Mistakes are made due to lack of effort, planning, and lack of support. Be great! Spend the time and effort on it and you will be rewarded.


Weight Room Mistake Bonus- Lack of efficiency

We all know that time is precious. And well all know that what we do in the weight room reflects performance on the field and how effective you will be in competition. Habits are created in the weight room and reflected on the field. Lack of efficiency in work in the weight room can kill a team.

Lets say TEAM A only has enough time to get 4 sets of 5 on an exercise. That exercise is done 1 time a week for 40 weeks. That is 800 reps.

Now lets say that TEAM B found enough time to squeeze 1 more set of 5 in that same exercise for 40 weeks. That is 1000 reps.

Result- TEAM B just got 200 reps stronger “better” than TEAM A.

If we compare TEAM A and TEAM B in a 60 minute workout averaging 8 lifts per day this equals up to.