This article is a very brief guide to setting up your weight room for velocity-based training (VBT) or barbell tracking. Coaches who use FLEX, GymAware, or VBT SF should be excited to know that CoachMePlus has dedicated a lot of resources to making things run smoother.
If you are in favor of maximizing workflow and data quality, this blog post tackles the key areas to get started, and even if you don’t have either the software or hardware listed, this article is still useful. Unlike other blog pieces that cover the art and science of training with strength training technology and methodology, this is just an overview of what you need to do to both budget for and set up the weight room with SimpliFaster products.
A Strength and Conditioning Technology Plan
Coaches need to read this section over and over again. The main reason I wrote this article is because technology is evolving faster than coaches can keep up. Nearly every coach wants to have the best resources for athletes, but even having a tablet in the weight room can be daunting to those who simply want just clipboards or whiteboards. Add in leaderboards, camera systems, and flat screens, and technology can seem like a big burden. The good news is that we at SimpliFaster are experts with weight room design and support, and I have had 10 years of experience using tablet-driven weight rooms.
If you don’t do your homework, and you buy based on budgets and expectations without being informed, you are likely missing out on many of the benefits of technology—especially automation. Click To Tweet
When you use technology correctly, you should be able to remove much of the monkey work that is time-consuming and not very enjoyable. The usual cycle of having fewer headaches by investing more rings true with correct setups. Conversely, the more complexity, the more it can be crippling if the setup is done haphazardly.
Therefore, if you don’t do your homework, and you buy based on budgets and expectations without being informed, it’s likely you are missing out on many of the benefits of technology—especially automation. When leveraging technology, the true power of a smart weight room is that it allows you to coach better with less administrative burden. Do it wrong and you will hate the experience, and athletes will likely experience the same frustration.
Here is a checklist you will want to review before investing:
- Do I have a strong, stable, and fast Wi-Fi access point in the weight room?
- Where are the power outlets in relation to tablets and other devices that must be charged or powered?
- Do I have an IT department or staff that is engaged and supportive of technology in sport?
- How are my hardware devices tracked and supported remotely or locally for both security and warranty?
- What is my sustainability and replacement plan for the long run?
- How does the coaching staff support the weight room daily, and how are they trained?
- What are the expectations of the athletes using technology, and does a policy exist?
If this sounds like it’s turning a molehill into a mountain, don’t fret—these questions can simply be answered in a single sentence and don’t need to be perfect. Just something written down can make it easier, so nobody feels surprised later.
If you are by yourself, sometimes the results are even better because you can control your own destiny a bit. I could get into AMS (athlete management systems) or iOS app configurations, or outline details for tablet mounting options, but that is more preference than foundational needs. Without a good Wi-Fi access point and a plan for replacing or supporting current hardware, you are running into a fire without protection. Trust me.The good news is that if you spend a few hours setting up a weight room properly, you will love your job more than ever. When technology works great, teams train on all cylinders. Click To Tweet
The good news is that if you spend a few hours setting up a weight room properly, you will love your job more than ever. When technology works great, teams train on all cylinders and everyone involved sees the value of what we do in amazing detail. Following my recommendations shared here will achieve what I promise, provided that you don’t go rogue and attempt to do something the technology is not designed for.
Connecting Software, Hardware, and Equipment
It’s possible that coaches can apply VBT without any online strength and conditioning software and simply use a whiteboard if they are old school. I don’t recommend starting with hardware. Instead, you should start with an online package that uses tools that help design better training programs. Track coaches have a different environment and often start with timing and expand later, but I personally believe both professions would benefit from a software platform first.
The ability to write workouts, push workouts, and analyze the training afterward is the heart and soul of CoachMePlus. They currently have the only software system that is device-agnostic, meaning they work with everyone. Having a wider range of options is more demanding, but this is convenient to the coach as it gives them freedom to use what they want.
Coaches must know that connecting data from sensors to a software platform is no easy task and will cost money. Both device companies mentioned in this article require additional software to make a single device act like an enterprise system (team or organizational solution). Both GymAware Cloud and Flex GymAware Bridge have worked with CoachMePlus for years. The new VmaxPro App is now able to connect as well, and every day the company focuses on getting more out of the system. Those software solutions are simply operational elements that help juggle multiple devices so coaches can get more features out of the product like reporting and leaderboards.
The single tablet per squat rack is growing as a standard, but this is now changing because coaches want workouts and feedback to be visually segregated and clearer. You can embed the workout session with the hardware output, but closed systems tend to be limited and restrictive if designed without a lot of careful thought. Flat screens for leaderboards are nice to have, and coaches should have access to a device nearby for quick management if needed. Some direct support like modifying exercises, sets, reps, and other training variables can be done now, but running around from rack to rack should be done rarely and only if unexpected.
I could get into countless setups, but the most important weight room feature is being used by the athletes before they actually come in, and that’s the messaging and monitoring tools. Who cares if you use reverse periodization or vertical integration—the ability to manage athletes before they come into the weight room and after they leave is why some programs make progress and some programs make monsters. Coaches are great leaders and tend to do a great job on the fly with groups, but most of the success comes from ensuring athletes are healthy and supported between sessions.
CoachMePlus Features and Tools That Make Life EasierAt the end of the day, the users are the athletes themselves, and if they are not engaged, the process fails, says @spikesonly. Click To Tweet
You will hear a lot of marketing buzzwords with sports technology, so ignore the noise and think about what is practical and useful. Much of what they sell to coaches is rarely used, but if companies were to market to the barebone needs that coaches rely on, boy would the marketing be dry and stale. The truth is that boring works, but now some of the infrastructure is actually very exciting and compelling for both the athlete and coach. At the end of the day, the users are the athletes themselves, and if they are not engaged, the process fails.
Leaderboards can be done with GymAware Cloud, and this is great for getting athletes fired up, but this only makes sense to use for a handful of exercises and measures. I like leaderboards and use them, but the most important tools are those that help write workouts with intelligence and automation. Using testing and training to profile athletes enables a coach to write workouts that are more impactful, so focus your energies on your planning rather than bringing more energy to the training that you’ll likely get anyway.
Reports are usually attempts to communicate our effectiveness as coaches to either other coaches who are not involved with training or administrative superiors who oversee what we do. Rarely do I see strength and conditioning reports do much for job security or promotion, but at times they are good to explain why injuries may have occurred, especially when much of the training load is out of our hands. Showing how we succeeded independently demonstrates competency on our part and conveys the need for everyone to be on one page if outcomes are to be effective. Regardless, it is proactive and responsible to make sure you report what you did, and it sends a good message to the rest of the staff.
Coaches want more than a digital filing cabinet; they want to see their data work for them. I have mentioned automation a few times, and the pipeline of CoachMePlus will surely be more integration between tools and more automation for the coach.The soul of CoachMePlus is not software based on a training process, but software that is flexible to comply with the needs of a coach and provide the right solutions to do a better job. Click To Tweet
Coaches are clever professionals. They anticipate the common needs day after day, and instead of doing things manually—a process that is tedious and prone to error—setting up your system to work for you is the sports utopia. Coaches should think about their daily operations and which activities and responses could be ameliorated with a little bit of support. Again, the soul of CoachMePlus is not software based on a training process, but software that is flexible to comply with the needs of a coach and provide the right solutions to do a better job.
Working with CoachMePlus and Further Recommendations
When SimpliFaster decided to work with CoachMePlus to solve the needs of professional coaches, the most important goal was helping teams, facilities, and schools with workflow. Technology can sometimes be difficult, and I spent years collaborating with both companies to find a working solution that could help coaches make their lives better.
The job of strength and conditioning and sports training goes beyond sets and reps of the barbell, so think about all the factors that slow you down and cause unnecessary meetings, emails, and phone calls. If you are interested in taking the weight room to the next level, invest in a comprehensive solution that manages both the technology and athletes better, and that starts with CoachMePlus SF.
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