Other People's Athletes

Jun 22, 2022


This article was originally posted on the site in 2013, but we are posting it again as a StrengthCoach Classic to serve as a refresher and so newer members can see it.


As I often say, the best ideas frequently come in the form of questions. Whether it is the StrengthCoach.com forum, Facebook, or a personal email, I find myself inspired to write articles instead of answers.

One question that seems to come up at the beginning of every summer is how to deal with athletes that train with you at a private facility but play for another team or school. More specifically, how do we deal with an athlete that brings us a program we perceive to be poorly written and says “I need to do this for school”.

The honest answer is that I don't allow athletes to do anything but our programs in our facility. Usually I will begin the process by showing the athlete the similarities of the programs and by highlighting the things contained in both. I will often say things like “the big difference is in how it's organized” which may or may not be entirely true. I will try to not say anything negative about the coach or the program although I must admit I sometimes fail when I see the programs.

However, to get around this dilemma our first question when dealing with another coaches athlete is “what is the testing?'. We always want our athletes to perform well on tests, whether we agree with the tests and associated programming or not. It almost becomes like Combine training.

We simultaneously train to get better ( using our program) while training for any specific tests that the athlete will encounter at school or with a new team. The two most common tests we need to train for are a back squat and a power clean from the floor. If the athlete has to perform either or both of these tests we train for these “events” at the end of the week.

For a power clean test from the floor we will add sets of floor cleans to learn technique while working to develop power through our regular program of hang clean and hang snatches. For back squats we will do some supplementary sets ( either singles or reps) depending on the tests.

For running we do the same. We use our running program but, prepare for their tests. We will also teach any exercises that are included in their program even if they are not included in ours. The bottom line is that we believe in our program. We also know that allowing any athlete to deviate from our program in our facility opens the door for all athletes to deviate.

This is a slippery slope. However, we also realize that athletes in college or on junior teams have obligations they must meet. The key for us is to compromise around testing and not training.  We must instill confidence in the athletes that our program will properly prepare them to play while training the athlete to be evaluated by their new team or coach.

It is a fine line. My good friend Bob AlejoSenior Associate Athletics Director for Performance and Student-Athlete Welfare at Cal State Northridge, has a good guideline. When working with someone else's athlete, have the courtesy to call the school, introduce yourself and ask about the program and testing. This is professionalism. I have to admit to failing to do this and, making enemies in the process. Follow Bob's advice and contact the coach. At least, you will have done your part.

On the flip side, don't compromise what you believe in. If an athlete comes to you for an off season program do what you feel is best based on your philosophy and your facility. It's a thin line but a little communication and some mutual respect can help you walk it.