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Building Relationships, Building Muscles

July 18, 2018 / CoachingFootballStrength & Conditioning
{Sponsored} Coaches are unique among other teachers. Coaches get to influence players’ skills on and off the football field. They teach life lessons other faculty may not have the opportunity to teach. Coaches forge their student-athletes with a sense of purpose, a positive view of continued physical fitness for life and build relationships that last past the students’ final seasons on the team.

On the other side of the coin, athletes also are unique among the general populace. They have set times when they are required to work out. Teams bond through shared suffering: practices aren’t easy. Sometimes, they hurt. Head football coach Bob Wager of Martin High School (Arlington, Texas) believes coaches need to share in this suffering alongside their players. He knows that when his players graduate and stop working out every day, they don’t feel that great — so he gives his team a positive example of physical fitness by continuing to be on the top of his own game.

“I want our practices to be up-tempo and our players to hustle. The only way to create that atmosphere is to have the coaches work out every day so we can coach hard and coach fast,” Wager said. “When teams see their coaches in the rack next to them, it goes beyond asking them to do something. It is leadership by example.”

Coach Bob Wager
Coach Wager’s energy is pervasive on the field as well as in the weight room

Coaches have the happy burden of being ambassadors of lifetime fitness as well as teaching lessons that apply to both sports and life. Wager’s goal is to provide his team with the building blocks they need to be successful in everything they do in the future. Things like time management, being able to depend upon your team (even if they don’t have the same background as you), practicing working towards a common goal and maintaining a balance between players’ spirits, minds and bodies are the things Wager instills into his players.

“We are judged by wins and losses, but at the same time, athletes learn important lessons in high school that they will use the rest of their lives,” Wager said.

Part of dependability goes back to showing the team that coaches are going to be with them at every step — even during harder workouts, when Wager and his staff are actively participating.

Wager’s example has fostered the same attitude in his players. His staff currently has seven former Martin players, all of whom were captains or other leaders on the team. His coaches start out by learning to coach as recent graduates during spring football or by coming back on college breaks to help out.

“We start talking about this career when they are in high school. For the players that are truly passionate about it, we are allowing them to participate as student coaches. We have a number of kids who come straight to the fieldhouse when they come home from college. It’s really special that they want to come home and be involved in practices and games. They are inspired by our coaching styles,” Wager said.

He has been able to have a player-coach relationship and now works with them on a coach-to-coach level. Wager’s staff is very tightly knit as a result.

Since Martin is on block scheduling, often the first time players get to coach is when they have an off period at the beginning or end of the day — when they already have enough credits to graduate as seniors — and they use that free time to help coach freshman or be mentors to new players.

As a head coach, Wager continues to be humble. He strives to always surround himself with the best people he can. Egos need to be put aside for a coaching staff to thrive, and therefore for a team to be the best possible. “One thing I have done well in my career is to always surround myself with tremendous humans,” said Wager. These people have shaped who he is as a human and as a coach. “Our profession is relationship-driven. You always have to be yourself and learn from everyone around you.”

The relationships Wager is able to forge with his athletes through these actions last long past the last touchdown. Wager still hears from former players, when things go really right or even when things go wrong.

“Those are the moments that you are proud to be part of their lives and continue to mentor them for things that happen on and off the field,” Wager said.

© 2018 Hammer Strength


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