#Supporting Cast student athlete development  sports preparation

Once you’ve removed the distractions from your team, you must identify the players who embody the culture you desire and get them in prominent positions to lead your team.

As a coach, you’re only around the team so much and you can’t change an entire culture on your lonesome. You need to have players who follow your lead and advocate for your culture in order for the rest of your team to move in the right direction on its own.

That means team leaders must understand the basic principles of the culture you want to install and comprehend the plan you have in place. Empowering student-athletes goes a long way to changing a culture.

It is very common among young athletes to see weakness or imbalances in core, hamstring and lower back muscles. Too often this region is neglected only because this muscle group isn't seen as often in the mirror as other parts of the body. The lower back, hamstrings and glutes are perhaps our biggest strengths when attempting to produce power and precision through any sport-specific movement. The key to any true sports performance training is a consistent focus on balance and stability. Balance and stability are key drivers in reducing risk of injury and overall athletic development and performance. They increase center of gravity, allowing to produce greater force and strength to make more precise movements. Without them, one cannot expect to perform at an optimal level or make gains in the weight room or sport. sports preparation student athlete development 

Here are 3 Exercises the help improve strength, stability and athleticism. 

#Single Leg Russian Deadlift 

​This variation is done with a straight leg targeting the hamstrings and lower back muscles as stabilizers.  By working one leg at a time, the athlete eliminates asymmetry and also challenges balance and coordination. Lifting the back leg into the air allows for an increase in range of motion and challenges your balance. Other Single Leg RDL variations are done with a bent knee by lowering the body into an athletic position (one can jump out of). s

#Reach Back Lunge

This is essentially the previous exercise, but with a larger range of motion. This exercise requires more hamstring activation thus increasing hamstring strength in the athlete. The Reach Back Lunge is more of a sport-specific movement than a Forward Lunge and is great for developing speed and power. In contrast to a Forward Lunge, which places too much body weight on the ball of the front foot, the Reach Back Lunge movement swings the back leg forward into a standing position developing power in the front leg in the proper direction for athletic performance. 

#Bounce to Drop Lunge

This is a more dynamic version of the Reach Back Lunge, which helps groove a rhythm with the movement. It also helps teach the athlete body control, timing, coordindation, rhythm and force absorption which is vital in all sports. 

Written by Andrew Haas


​#Mental Preparation Looks Differently

Every student-athlete prepares differently for competition. It is a mistake to assume that all athletes prepare the same way or that they prepare the way you did when you were a student-athlete.  It is important to be observant and learn what your athletes like to do to prepare themselves and then create an environment where they can prepare in that manner. 

#Focus on Process

Use reminders to focus on the process of playing well. Avoid emphasizing the importance of winning by saying things like, “We need this win" or "This is a big game." Performance anxiety is real and chances are your student-athletes already know the implications of the game.  The process of playing well is much more under your athletes’ control and they will be much less stressed or anxious if they have specific aspects of the game to focus on rather than the outcome. Try using system of play and team tactic directives to build the results you desire. "We focus on our game - Move the ball. Be involved. Execute." 

#No Exit

Do not provide them with an out or a "Plan B." For example avoid saying things like "I know you are tired” or "We are banged up." Statements like these only provide your student-athletes with built-in excuses if things aren’t going well or they are tired.

Following these three keys will help you communicate more effectively before competition and give your athletes a better chance to succeed.

Written by Andrew Haas


3 Exercises that help strength, stability and athleticism 

(nov 11, 2017)

#Don’t Hide It student athlete development sports preparation

There is no need to “secretly” change a culture. In fact, you should wear that culture change like a badge of honor. Be the change you wish to see. You are the leader, their role model, you must be everything it is you want to see in your players. Bring the bad habits and poor culture that has developed to light and claim that you’re ready to throw it away. Changing an ingrained culture requires a strong leader; no one is going to do it willingly, you must show them the way and be the focal point of the change.

Blog        student athlete development 

​One thing I've learned rather quickly in 10+ years of coaching is that the profession is ever-changing and coaches at each level of competition need to know more than just the X's and O's in order to be successful. Eventhough athletic performance (i.e.,wins and losses) can become a focal point for coaches to build programs, attention to detail, accountability, urgency, skills mastery etc. are primary responsibilities when attempting to increase the development of a team.  sports preparation student athlete development 

Developing a healthy team culture is as important in the sports world as it is in the business world. In applying these concepts to a sports team, it's important to first understand what a team culture is and why it is of essential value. A "culture" is the expression of a team’s values, attitudes, and beliefs about sports and competition. It determines whether the team’s focus is on fun, mastery, or winning or whether it promotes individual accomplishment or team success. The culture is grounded in an identified sense of mission and shared goals.

Team culture is a very meaningful and important idea in the overall body of a team. Culture is essentially the heart of what motivates your body to keep moving forward. A team with a strong heart beat; a deeply-rooted connection to past and present teammates, coaching staff, family etc. have a greater sense of "togetherness" and are typically a contender at the end of the season, while teams on the opposite end of the spectrum are usually bogged down in mediocrity and dysfunction. That’s why, at nearly every Major League Sports press conference when introducing a team’s new coach, someone mentions that the team is in need of a “culture change.” 

Of course, changing a collective culture is much easier said than done. Culture is like a habit; it’s a way of being, a way of doing things, a way of life that becomes the norm of acceptable behavior on a team. These norms can dictate how players behave, communicate, cooperate and deal with adversity. It literally defines everything about the team. 

If your team or program is in desperate need of a culture change, here are a few steps you can take to spark that change.

#Bad Eggs

Your first act should be to take a page out of Chip Kelly's book and cut your DeSean Jackson. In other words, allow those individuals who perpetuate a negative culture to "weed themselves out" or take action and remove those individuals yourself.

Unfortunately, this is not always the easiest task. Just look at what cutting Desean Jackson did to the Philadelphia Eagles, as losing their most dynamic weapon stunted the rest of their offense. But Coach Kelly set out to change the culture of the organization by removing a “me-first” guy for team players and not star powered players.

Whether they’re a starter or a third-stringer, cutting the negative players loose sends a strong message to everyone else.

3 Keys to communicating with athletes before competition

(DEC 5. 2017)

#Be Available student athlete development sports preparation 

Players need to feel that their coach cares about them as a person; not just as an athlete who can help them win games and establish a successful program. Relationships are a two-way street; it requires listening as well as talking because it involves both inputs and outputs. Players are people first and great coaches make time for the person as well as the player. 

Communicating effectively allows coaches to teach players leadership and the necessary skills to produce peak performance and increase the possibility of having a successful program. 

#Don’t Falter  student athlete development sports preparation

If you want your players to buy-in to your culture change, you must first buy-in to your own plan.

Stick to your guns and don’t give in to playing players with negative attitudes or those who refuse to get on board. If you’re going to be the hardnosed coach who plays an old-school, grind-it-out style, then be the hardnosed coach who plays an old-school, grind-it-out style. If you’re going to be a rah-rah-type player’s coach, then be a rah-rah-type player’s coach. There are no half-measures. 

Make adjustments as necessary, but do not give up on the overall direction and goal of YOUR plan.​​

Written by Andrew Haas

what is 'team culture' and how do i build it?

(Oct. 26, 2017)

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