Training New Athletes

by Coach Travis Mash

Yesterday I had the honor and privilege of assisting with my hometown high school football strength and conditioning program.  Ashe County High School in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina was the scene of me going back to my roots.  I have wanted to influence my hometown team for years.  Yesterday was the beginning of what I hope evolves into something awesome.  I want my guys in the mountains to learn that reality is what they make of it.  The seed is plated, and now it is time to nurture it.

I had a complex squat every day plan all ready for the athletes.  It has been a long time since I have worked with athletes that weren’t five star football recruits or World Team Members.  It was a refreshing change going back to the basics.  I left that weight room smiling ear to ear.

Here are the keys to training new athletes:

1. Stick to the Basics!  Pick 2 or 3 exercises that are beneficial to the athletes that you are training and practice those exercises every session.  We are going to focus on squats, bench press, and cleans.  I was going to include overhead squats, but I have decided to introduce those after the athletes have mastered these three first. 

15-year-old Hannah

The cleans will develop power production, posterior chain strength, kinesthetic awareness, balance, speed, and movement.  The squats will develop absolute strength, muscle mass, and mobility.  The bench press will develop upper body absolute strength and muscle mass.  These three exercises alone will make these athletes better than ever. 

More is not better!  You are much better off to perfect three movements rather than to introduce a bunch of exercises that the athlete will only get half right.  When your body becomes more efficient at performing the exercises, it will recruit more fibers, get stronger, and become more powerful.

Plus whether you are working in the high school or in a private gym, normally time is a part of the equation. If you have one hour or less to get your workout completed, I recommend focusing on the movements that get the most bang for your buck. I suggest movements that are: 1. multi-joint requiring maximal muscle recruitment, 2. range of motion focused encouraging mobility, and 3. triple joint in nature demonstrating maximal power production.

2.  Technique trumps weight especially in the beginning!  I refuse to have my athletes go heavier until their technique is at least proficient.  I watch strength coaches make huge mistakes with adding a load before their athletes have learned the movement. Here’s the thing. If big lifts are your goal, perfect technique is the way to get there. It might require a little extra time and effort, but you will find that safe technique will always render maximal loads. All you have to do is watch the weightlifting world championships, and you will see massive amounts of weight lifter overhead with beautiful technique.

3.  Motivate them!  I love coaching.  I love motivating athletes to be better than they ever thought they could.   If you can’t motivate, you can’t coach.  I don’t care who you are.  I watch tons of brilliant strength coaches crying because no one will take them seriously.  It’s because they can’t motivate.   Therefore no one will take them seriously.

15-year-old Morgan

Coaches have to motivate, educate, and create buy in. Athletes have to trust their coaches to give their buy in. They have to know that you are always honest and forthcoming. Over time your actions will either let them know that you have their best interests or not. If your reason for coaching is because you want to see young people reach their goals and to grow as humans, then all of this will come naturally. If you desire to make yourself look smart or important, you are in the wrong business. If you are not succeeding in this business, I recommend looking at your own motivation first.

At L.E.A.N Fitness we aim to meet all three of these key requirements each and every day. We aim to grow our athletes both athletically and as future adults. Strength and Conditioning is a great way to teach athletes about:

  • Goal Setting
  • Perseverance
  • Hard Work
  • Commitment
  • Team Work

We are hosting a Free Athletic Performance Clinic next Saturday January 12, 2019 from 10am until 1pm. This clinic is for coaches, athletes, and parents. You can check it out below:

“Jump Higher and Sprint Faster from Work in the Weight Room”

Link for more information: =>

For a Free Two Weeks Trial to L.E.A.N. Fitness, email us at and mention this article.