This is a guest post from a great strength coach here in California: Noel Piepgrass from Exeter, CA. Before coming to Exeter, he spent 9 years at Central Valley Christian High School where he served as Strength and Conditioning Coach and Assistant Football Coach. Noel’s specialty is in designing Strength and Conditioning programs for student-athletes. In 2015 he founded OMNISTRONG: The Complete System for Team-Based Training, which is a Digital Training System that empowers any coach with all the tools necessary to deliver an elite level training program with their team.
Maximizing Motivation in the Weight Room
One of the first things I learned when I started working with teams in a Weight Room setting was that adherence to the program was going to be the largest obstacle to my success. Even when I was a young Graduate Assistant at Boston University, I knew enough and had enough mentoring in place to create a pretty darn good program. However, despite this “pretty darn good program” it was sometimes hard to get the athletes to buy in. In particular, I remember battling some of the players on our Women’s Tennis team. My biggest issue with them was just getting them to do the program! Initially I blamed that on the cultural stigma associated with women and weight training, but when I got my first High School job with the Football team at Central Valley Christian High School, I quickly learned the problem was not just a girl problem. In fact, I can still remember kicking an Offensive Linemen out of the weight room on my very first day because he was not adhering to the program. Ten years later, I can tell you, motivation in the weight room is not just a problem associated with girls.
I don’t think I’m alone with these challenges. As I talk to coaches, the same things come up again and again. How do you get student-athletes to show up consistently and do what you want them to do? How do you get them to put in the work on a day-to-day basis?
In this article, I want to start with the premise that adherence to your training program might be the biggest obstacle to it’s success. From this point of understanding, I want to make the case for the importance of creating a culture where effort is the highest value and give you some ideas for how you can create this type of culture.
If you’d like to learn more about his Digital Training System or just stay in touch with loads of great training content, visit www.omnistrong.net.
The Importance of a Process Orientation
I’ve got a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology and even though I’ve always been an exercise guy, the area I chose to emphasize in was actually Sport Psychology/Coaching Science. In fact, I chose this emphasis because I realized right away how important motivation was going to be in achieving the success I wanted to achieve. I remember taking the Comprehensive Exam at the end of my Master’s Degree and one of the questions I had to answer was related to the idea of motivating a team. To this day, I recall describing the importance of creating a Process Oriented Culture. In a Process Oriented Culture, student-athletes recognize the importance of mastery as opposed to focusing on performance outcomes.
Student-Athletes that focus on Mastery are concerned with developing their ability, while Student-Athletes that focus on Performance tend to be more concerned with demonstrating their ability. To develop Mastery, the emphasis is on putting forth great effort and engaging in processes that will lead to further development. Conversely, student-athletes focused on demonstrating superior performance tend to believe that success comes from greater levels of ability and being better than one’s competitors.
As you can probably see, a team full of process oriented student-athletes is going to constantly focus on being their absolute best, while a team focused on performance is going to focus on being better than their opponent. I think you can see the potential pit-falls in the performance orientation. It’s not that it can’t be helpful at times, but as an overarching, culture driving mindset it is not ideal.
So, first and foremost, if you want to maximize the motivation of your team in the weight room, you have to create a culture in which your student-athletes are motivated by mastery not performance, development of ability not demonstration of ability. This is so incredibly important for student-athletes in the weight room because strength training is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. Performance oriented teams simply will not see the value in putting in this type of hard work.
This has been Part 1 in a two part series on Maximizing Motivation in the Weight Room. Come back soon for Part 2 as I get super practical with 4 Ideas for Maximizing Motivation in the Weight Room.
Coach Noel Piepgrass holds a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He is also a Certified Sports Nutritionist and USA Weightlifting Coach. Noel has experience in college weight rooms at Boston University and Fresno State and a decade’s worth of seasoning as a High School coach and teacher. He is also the Founder of OMNISTRONG: The Complete System for Team-Based Training. If you’d like to learn more about his Digital Training System or just stay in touch with loads of great training content, visit www.omnistrong.net.