I got a question the other day on Twitter, "Hey coach, how do you keep kids motivated during the offseason?"
I think this is a great question, and an area where a lot of programs struggle. Motivating teenagers to work for something today that they're not going to see the results of until next season can be very challenging.
I think the first key to motivating your team and teenagers in the weight room is keeping very good charts on their growth and increases. There are some apps out now that do a really good job, but I think being able to give kids immediate feedback on their growth is very important.
I've always been of the mindset, and best practices suggest, to "periodize" your weight room in the offseason. Break your offseason into quarters, just like a football game. So if you do an eight-week session or a seven-week session, have that be your first quarter and then have the second quarter. At the end of each of those quarters, max and time your kids so they can see the progression. This makes them feel their time has been well spent in the weight room. They can see that they've added 30 pounds on their squat during the first quarter or their 40 time got faster during the second quarter of their season.
So sit down with your calendar and divide the offseason from your last game, or whenever you start your offseason program, to the summer. Break that down into four digestible quarters to show your players, that will help them mentally understand and progress through your off season to help keep them motivated.
Another idea is to break your roster into small groups to compete against each other. They can collect points during the off season for different things like growth in the weight room, grade point average, being on time to class. There are 100 different ways you can organize an offseason competition. I know one school who has a community service portion and the small groups get points for participating. Be creative, there are lots of ways your kids can earn points and have them compete against each other as another way to keep them engaged and inspired.
A third way to really motivate kids in the off season is simply your relationship with them. Coaches should look for ways to pull kids, one-on-one, into your classroom to watch film and to talk about the future for this individual. This approach can go a long way in motivating your kid's in the weight room, especially that kid who's right on the cusp of becoming a starter. This player just needs to get a little faster, a little stronger. I'm a firm believer those conversations should serve as the base of motivating your kids, that one-on-one relationship they have so that they know their coach cares. This, along with holding kids accountable to being in the weight room by taking attendance, shows that it matters. Their attendance, their work matters and somebody is watching. Chris Fore is a veteran head football coach and Athletic Director from Southern California. He also consults coaches nationwide through his business Eight Laces Consulting.