The Strength and Conditioning Conundrum

Tired Athletes

Last night, I was reminded of a sad-fact regarding high school sports, as well as strength and conditioning in general.

We have a new kid that’s been coming into our facility, and his goals are simple:  Get bigger and stronger for football season.  Easy enough, right?

Not so fast.

He’s scheduled for an appointment at 6 pm last night, and you can tell when he walked in that he was tired.  As we asked a few questions, it became apparent why he looked tired – HE WAS TIRED!

In fact, since 2:30 that afternoon he had been to track practice, as well as an off-season football workout.  Couple this with the fact that he’d probably been up since 6 am or so that day, and the fact that we know many high school kids’ diets leave something to be desired.

Any wonder why he wasn’t setting the world on fire with his workout?

This is something we have to remember as strength and conditioning coaches, performance enhancement coaches, or whatever you want to call yourself.

When it comes to our kids, the only thing we have control over is our workout!

You can’t control the fact your baseball stud ran 5 miles for “conditioning.”

You can’t control the fact that your women’s volleyball coach decides the week of the conference tournament that they’re out of shape and need two-a-days to get prepped for this week’s games.

You can’t control when your D-III softball players’ coach decides to make them perform walking lunges around the track for a workout.

Did I mention it was TWO LAPS?

And if you even think I’m joking, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  I’ve seen some pretty stupid sh*t when it comes to training.

The only thing we have control over is what we do.  And if your athletes come to you in this kind of shape, some mobility exercises, active recovery, and possibly some low-level/non-intensive exercise is about all you’re going to get out of them.

So next time your athletes come to you totally wiped out, ask yourself this simple question:

What can I do to make them better?

Chances are a big-time workout it the last thing they need.

Stay strong



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  1. Hello Mike (and everyone else),
    and greetings from New Zealand. Your shoulder article today was excellent and this article here makes a good point as well. Here, we have far too many rugby players running 10 k to build an "aerobic base."

  2. This is important for "corporate athletes" to remember, too! If the day has been tough, sleep nonexistent, and nutrition bad, it may make more sense to stick with mobility and active recovery drills, and save the heavy weights for another day.

  3. Mike- what a great post on tired athletes. Thanks for validating my experiences. I deal with this kind of stuff every year as a sports coach AND strength coach. I'm called an "easy " sports coach by the other coaches because I disagree with making softball players run 3 miles at practice, or punishing kids with sprints AFTER they've played a game. Of course, I also have the least injuries on my team. That's the other risk you take pushing athletes who are exhausted or, in the case of female high school athletes, under fueled, high injury risk.

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