The Importance of Long Term Planning
The most common problem facing trainers and coaches today regarding developing young athletes over time is the ability to plan long-term. The personal training profession is typically based on a session-to-session consideration - clients pay per session and trainers create training programs one session at a time. The same is true in coaching sports - most coaches script out one practice plan at a time, rather than create a relative flow for an entire month or even season. The following article by Brian Grasso discusses the importance of planning for the long term.
Limited Plan… Limited Gain - The problem with this industry standard as it relates to youth and adolescent sports is it limits the potential gains made by a young athlete. It is not unlike running a business or corporation - when business owners take the time to organize their objectives and action steps for a given month or year, they almost always are successful at implementing the plan. Far too many business owners, trainers and coaches feel as though their actions during a sales drive, training session or practice will lead to positive change, when in fact it is the planning that occurs before these actions that accounts for the true gains
Become and Objective Monster - No one can learn how to create 6 or 12 month plans in a day. It takes time and diligent effort to acquire this skill, but your ability to get better over time will have a direct and positive impact on both your young athletes’ success rate as well as your businesses ability to attract new clients. Set an objective for yourself to create a system or plan that allows you to develop long-term and wide-focused agendas for your young athletes. Take several days or weeks if needed to create a system that is streamlined and easy to implement - although you are looking for a comprehensive system, the more basic you make it, the easier it will be to adhere to.
Action Steps - Start simple by taking a piece of paper to write out where you want your young athletes to be in four weeks. Create headings and then fill in each category. For instance, what skill sets are you working on now? To what degree of competency do you want an athlete or team to be able to demonstrate this skill set in one month’s time?
Create Critical Path - Once you have organized your thoughts regarding where you would like to be in four weeks, you must consider how you are going to get there. On the same or a different piece of paper, write out how many training sessions or practices you have with this athlete or team between now and the target date. Date each training session or practice on your piece of paper and then use your skills as a trainer or coach, fill in the blanks. Compare where you want to be in four weeks with the number of training sessions or practices you have remaining. In order to accomplish your 4-week goal, what action steps along a critical path must be taken? This is the essence of how to develop a long-term approach to working with young athletes.
The End Result You Need - An amazing thing happens when you create objectives and critical plans. You start seeing results in your athletes and teams beyond what you ever-dreamed possible. Failing to plan is one of the biggest concerns facing this industry. It seems everything is taken on a session-by-session basis with no vision or thought to the long-term. It could be argued that individual trainers and coaches didn’t know how to plan for the future…well, now you do! Practice the skill of objective writing and critical path creation. It will take time to design a system that flows well for you, but it is more than worth it to your young athletes and teams.
Editors Note: Thank you to Brian Grasso of Developing Athletics for this article.