Working with a group of teen athletes can be a frustrating experience—but it doesn’t have to be. Justin Russ, CSCS, a strength and conditioning coach at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, offers his top insights on successful team training:

Set the tone. Establish expectations and procedures early. Be sure the teens are aware that you are the coach and they are the athletes, and their job is to listen to what you say.

Take time for thorough explanations. It’s much easier to explain things thoroughly the first time than to go back and repeat yourself. Explain each detail of a lift/drill/conditioning session and then ask the athletes if they understand. Take a minute to answer questions or clarify your instructions, if necessary.

Get athlete buy-in. Athletes buy in when they know the “why” behind what you are having them do. Explain the rationale for strength training programming, speed drills and conditioning sessions, and how they help teens to improve as athletes.

Know your athletes as individuals. Different athletes respond to coaching techniques in different ways. You have to read personality types. Some athletes respond to yelling in a positive way; others do not. Some athletes prefer you to look them in the eye and speak to them calmly.

Show them you care. Listen to their concerns and give them genuine, honest answers. Show your passion for what you do. Watch their games.

Want to learn more about how Russ successfully manages team training? Check out the Client Success column in this issue.

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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