A unique competition to consider for your pre-season conditioning for next year. You might not be able to use the exact system, but I like the idea of finding a way to make your pre-season work less monotonous for your team.
By Heather Mason
Heather Mason, SCCC, MEd, is Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the University of Tennessee women’s athletic department. She is a former Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coordinator at the University of Notre Dame.
Another example of how I communicate with coaches involves the soccer team. During the previous off-season, the coach told me her goal was to make the team more competitive and boost their level of strength and conditioning. This particular group of athletes was not very interested in weightroom work and needed extra motivation to break mental and physical barriers.
In response, I wanted to create an environment in the weightroom that would motivate them to work harder. So after conducting typical (but hard) workouts their first four weeks of training, we dubbed the fifth week, “Survivor Week.”
The idea was to mimic the popular television show and also give the athletes an intense environment. We split the soccer athletes into three teams, each with its own name and team color (orange, blue, and white), and gave each athlete an identifying bandana that they were required to have on their person at all times that week.
During Survivor Week workouts, we inserted one to three competitions every day. Whichever team won that competition would be granted immunity from the Superfinish of that competition. We tallied points for each team and the team with the most points for the day was dubbed “Queen Tribe.” The competition activities ran the gamut from tug-of-war to wall sits with 135-pound weights to George of the Jungles (flexed-arm hang from bar for maximum amount of time). The team with the most points at the end of the week were the Survivors.
To make the week as intense as possible, we made sure to add all the right nuances. We began the week with an opening ceremony—we played music from the television show, lit torches, and made the athletes walk across a fake bridge. During the week, whenever a member of the athletic department saw a soccer athlete around campus, he or she would check the athlete for her bandana.
The athletes responded very well. They showed higher levels of intensity and competitiveness within strength workouts that we hadn’t seen from them before. They called me at night to make sure I had all the scores correct and ask me questions. And so far this season, all of their hard work is showing on the field, with the team ranking sixth in the nation at the midseason mark.
Through these examples, it’s apparent how strength and conditioning plans can fulfill the varied needs of a sport coach as well as the strength and conditioning coach. When all involved are speaking the same language and committed to excellence, a consistent, intense training environment can be created.