Accomplished speed and strength coach Mike Srock, from James F. Byrnes High School in Greenville, South Carolina, wants his players to have purpose in everything they do. Read on below to learn how his program has pivoted during COVID-19 and what he’s doing in preparation when in-person practices and competition to resume.
Coach Srock says that one characteristic of a great coach is being quick to adapt and adjust how they relate to their athletes. He notes that today’s coaches have received a master class in out-of-the-box thinking thanks to COVID-19. “As this global pandemic has gone on and everything has been shut down, it has really adversely affected the entire high school population so much–even beyond just sports. School has always been a support system for these kids. I mean we actually feed them, keep them engaged and teach them how to be responsible upstanding individuals. I think all that is paused now because we can’t have personal contact.”
Srock looks forward to seeing social distancing practices relax enough to get small groups from teams back together. “I think because of all the time we missed we’re going to have to go back to the very basic beginning. Obviously we sent home workout programs and even did some Facebook workouts, but a lot of the athletes didn’t have access to weights or equipment, so we dispersed resistance bands and opted for body weight exercises. Most importantly for the month of May, we sent out a real intense running program anticipating that we would hopefully return to small group training in June. The thought process was that at least if they were a little bit in shape, we wouldn’t have to start at square one with conditioning. But we won’t really know until we see them. And I can pretty much guarantee that all my football boys are doing bench press and bicep curls, probably not running one step at all. It’s going to be quite interesting when we get back in action, but we’re going to make sure we keep safety the top priority.”
Coach Srock says he’ll lean heavily on the recommendations of South Carolina’s governor and the CDC to know when the time is right and what protocols and best practices to follow. He says the biggest advice he has for coaches as they begin bringing teams back together is to take it slow, and to remind their players to do the same. “We just have to be extremely cautious–especially in the beginning, because we can’t assume that our athletes have done all the workouts each day as they would if they were in a real practice. But that will be evident from the first day we return to practice.” Srock says starting with conditioning is the best bet to get athletes back in competition shape, and stressed the importance of hydration during the hot summer months of training.
His advice to athletes as they return to their teams is to understand the purpose to their training and execution. “Once an athlete takes responsibility on herself to learn ‘Why am I doing this? What’s the purpose of doing it, and how can I do it to the best of my ability?’ That’s when the light comes on and the training becomes so much more powerful. Training now is so advanced, it would be very easy to spin your wheels in the wrong direction. What makes great athletes is the players’ understanding of the purpose of what their coaches are putting them through.”
If you’re slowly bringing your team back together this summer for practices, Coach Srock has designed a dynamic speed drill plan exclusively for Sport Fuels Life members. Sign up now to set up your free Sport Fuels Life membership and get exclusive access to this speed and conditioning workout and get your team back in competition shape! If you’re already a member, you can view Coach Srock’s workout plan here.