Taylor Quick is a sports performance and football coach for Union High School in Union, Mississippi. He has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in exercise science. He is Strength and Conditioning Coach Certified through the Collegiate Strength & Conditioning Association.
Freelap USA: Small school strength and conditioning can be challenging. What are the typical challenges you see in implementing an S&C program in a small school?
Taylor Quick: One of the biggest challenges is orchestrating year-round training in a setting that is often devoid of a true off-season. With small schools, we share athletes. We don’t have a choice. In those small populations, the best football players are often the best basketball players and baseball players. The best volleyball players are often your best basketball and softball players. This creates a very peculiar dynamic that has to be navigated well in order to meet the needs of the athlete and the teams they are a part of.
Another challenge is resource allocation. Money is usually more limited in smaller schools. Being able to work within a budget while also finding ways to supplement it can be very time consuming. The last challenge I see most frequently is strength coaches also being classroom teachers. I have yet to be in a position that did not have me teaching a non-strength-related curriculum at least half of the day.
Freelap USA: As you mentioned, resources are often limited in the H.S. setting in particular. In what ways do you have to get creative to train appropriately?
Taylor Quick: We rotate multiple groups through our room simultaneously. Because of limited resources and equipment, it is virtually impossible to have every athlete following our lift for the day in the same order. We use stations to move our athletes through the lift for the day.
One of the biggest assets we have procured recently is a full set of bands for each rack in our room. This has allowed us to fill in some gaps in our accessory training that were otherwise missing due to space and equipment limitations.
Freelap USA: How do you battle training multisport athletes who are always in-season?
Taylor Quick: This is a tough nut to crack at times. With football, scheduling is pretty easy. Games are only on Fridays, and you can get into a routine pretty quickly. However, keeping in mind that you have a chunk of your football guys who will walk into the gym for basketball the Monday after they play their last football game of the season is important. We have to gear training to provide as seamless of a transition as possible. These guys go from in-season football playing only one game per week straight into in-season basketball and playing 2-3 games per week.
Freelap USA: What strategies do you use to properly teach your main lifts in a team setting?
Taylor Quick: Teaching anything in a team setting is a challenge when there is exactly one of you and anywhere from 30-50 athletes at one time. One of the ways I’ve found success with this is by going through the technical aspects of the movement in front of the group prior to the team lift beginning. During the lift, I move around from group to group and station to station as much as possible and make corrections as necessary.
Remembering that these are high school athletes and not Olympic-level weightlifters, professional powerlifters, or Olympic-level track athletes is important. Many coaches get caught up in perfection of the technical aspect of a lift and completely overcoach it. Check the important boxes and let them feel through the movement for corrections that need to be made.
Freelap USA: How do you manage volume and intensity with novice-level athletes?
Taylor Quick: One of the mistakes that I see many coaches make is treating low training age athletes as if they are made of glass. There is absolutely a need to mitigate risk by managing volume and intensity but doing so to the point of losing the stimulus is simply swinging the risk to the other end of the spectrum.
I allow my athletes to operate on feel quite a bit. In our program, if they are hurting, tight, sore, etc., they are encouraged to voice that. We talk through it and come up with a strategy to insulate them for that lift. The goal for us each day is to apply an appropriate stimulus commensurate with whatever else they have had going on that day. If we had a particularly taxing practice on schedule for that day, the lift is going to be adjusted to accommodate for that.
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