The MUCH More Important Part of Programming

Coaches -

The MUCH More Important Part of Programming

We’ve all been there. Staring at the screen wondering what variation of whatever exercise we should program for that athlete. Then, perfectly pairing it up with the right core or mobility exercise that fits the best. It can be extremely frustrating because all of a sudden you just spent 20 minutes on one exercise.


In this article, I am not going to tell you the best progressions and rep/set schemes. My goal is to get you to relax and tell you that there is a more important other half to this: conducting the program.


As long as you have a basic understanding on program writing that won’t harm the athlete, you can still get them to see the results as long as the coaching is there. Currently, my interns are learning how to program, and just like many, they are overthinking every piece of it. As we go over programming for different populations and adding the right exercises based on the evaluations, I always come back to coach the f*** out of the program.


What do I mean?


I mean while that athlete is following whatever is on that piece of paper, you better make sure that not only are they giving a full effort, but you are too. I hate seeing lazy coaching because that is how athletes get hurt and not see results. 


An easy three ways to make sure you are putting in the effort are below.


Angle Coaching


Watching from one spot lends you to miss parts of the exercise. For example, let's say you have an athlete performing a goblet squat. If you are standing on one side, you may not see the hip shift or lateral torso flexion on the other side.


Move around the athlete as they are going through their exercise. Look to see if there is a drastic asymmetry of movement dysfunction that is happening. It is easy to miss if you just watch from one side of the body. 


I like to watch each rep from a different angle. This gives me a good idea how the overall movement looks. The difference between missing poor movement and not could mean the difference of that athlete getting hurt or getting stronger.


Check-In Questions


Ask them different questions to make sure they are performing properly. 


Where do you feel this exercise? Oh, in your lower back, that’s not good. Let’s fix your trunk position. 




Does this weight feel challenging, but doable? No? Ok, let’s increase to ensure you will get something out of this.


Not only does this ensure safety and results, but it shows that you care! This is how you build trust with the athletes. 


At the end of the day, the athletes needs to know that you are there watching and making sure they are doing everything properly.




This one should be the easiest. Not every athlete is self-motivated, therefore you need to figure out how to get the athlete to tick. This goes along way with getting them to see results. 


If you know an athlete doesn't mind being yelled at and pushed hard, then go for it. Maybe an athlete needs to be motivated by how others perform. Competition most of the time does the trick with athletes. 


It could be as simple as good music. This can change the vibe of the room and get everyone jiving.


Not everyday an athlete will be super excited to be working out. We all have those days. That's why keeping the energy high and understanding how to get the athlete to tick is important to their success. I never let any athlete take a workout lightly, each session is an opportunity to get better. 


Here at VSP, it is all about the culture. We ensure each athlete is always being coached with everything we got. There is no “perfect” way to program, it’s all about who’s coaching it. 

If you can make sure that the three points above are taken care of, I am confident good things will happen.


If you have any other suggestions or ways you go about coaching the f*** out of your programs, feel free to let me know below!

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