How We Plan Our Training Programs

"Start at the End"

More than several years ago, I was watching an educational program by world-renowned physical therapist and performance coach Charlie Weingroff, when he said, "Start at the end. Then work your way back to the beginning." He went on to explain more in depth how that affects the decisions we make as trainers and coaches. Those words immediately stuck with me, and they shape just about every training decision we make at Watts Performance Systems, and that philosophy is found in the training programs we create for our athletes in collaboration with the Pitching Performance Lab.

Chad and I sit down regularly to map our plan for the upcoming sessions which many times has us discussing what we see happening six months in advance. We have a bi-weekly focus which addresses individual or group performance concerns, a monthly focus where we discuss specific movements we want to incorporate the next month, a three month block which usually has one training ultimate goal (high school season preparation, in-season, etc.), and a 6 month view when to offer programs in the future, and any continuing education we're interested in.

The point is, we plan. Our Fall Training Program, which we're currently in week 9 of the 12-week block, has three distinct phases, and ends the week prior to Thanksgiving - a perfect time for athletes to rest, recover, spend time with family, and eat a lot of food! Each phase builds on the previous phase which moves us one step closer to 'the end', which is usually the beginning of the high school tryouts, college athletes leaving for school, or spring training for our pro athletes, for example. None of what we do is haphazard or by accident (unless we encounter a positive or negative effect from a training outcome that we hadn't necessarily foreseen). Our Winter Program (which at the time of this writing, you can still sign up for) begins the week after Thanksgiving, and runs 11 weeks right up to high school tryouts, and just about to the first club soccer tournaments.

2020 has been a unique year, obviously. And we've had to make different plans for our athletes. There was no HS baseball or club soccer in the spring. Travel baseball happened this summer, but with all kinds of restrictions. That lack of playing and lack of ability to prepare had an effect on our athletes. We had to take several steps back in an effort to keep athletes healthy before focusing on performance. Our #1 focus is athlete health. Athletes can't perform if they're not healthy. So, some of the training progressions have been a little slower than some athletes (or parents) may be accustomed to. But remember, in August, we're already thinking about February.

I can't speak for Chad on this, but I've had dozens of parents who have said to me, "Train 'em hard!" or "Make 'em puke!" Let me be clear on this...MAKING PEOPLE VOMIT IS NOT ONE OF OUR TRAINING GOALS. If having your athlete vomit from an intense workout is one of your goals as a parent or coach, please do not sign them up for our program. I'd rather your athlete(s) look forward to coming to training instead of dreading it. There are plenty of other "trainers" who will take your money and make you think your kid had a good workout because they threw up and their legs hurt so much they can't walk the following day. Vomiting is a response by your body that something is wrong, and your body is trying to stop you from doing that thing or to get the "toxin" our of your body. (Think about that one time you drank too much tequila in college.) If your kid isn't wiped out after their training session, it's ok. They're getting better.

Our current final phase of the fall is designed to test our athletes strength a little more than previous months. It will help us understand if what we did two months ago worked, and how we can improve in the future. The 11-week Winter Program leading up to HS baseball or club soccer will start to get your athletes moving faster and prepare them for the movements they may encounter on the field.

Do we care if your athlete(s) is the strongest athlete on the field? Not really. We want your athlete(s) to repeatedly be their best when they lace up their shoes and step on the field. We want them to feel good, feel healthy, and feel confident in the abilities they have worked hard to develop.

If they're healthy, fast, strong, resilient, and happy, then our plan worked. And that is the end goal.