Using a Daytime Strength & Conditioning Class to Build Powerful, Engaged Leaders
Clarke, a 2018 Coach & A.D. 40 Under 40 honoree, started pushing for more daytime strength and conditioning classes almost immediately after he began his tenure with Noblesville. With this type of training during the school day, coaches can spend more time on sport-specific skills during after school practices.This means that Clarke is responsible for ensuring kids are developing stability, mobility, flexibility and agility. “I want them to try different things safely and experience failure; together we can work on improving and moving forward,” Clarke said.
Research shows that puberty and the accompanying physical growth teenagers experience can cause anything from muscle tightness to disorientation and clumsiness to lower back immobility. By getting student-athletes moving during the day, many of the things they are trained to do with coaches after school become easier for them to accomplish.
Clarke assesses student-athletes through a screening process. He determines if they can do simple things like bend correctly. Since free-play is more limited than during Clarke’s childhood, Clarke sees more issues with basic movement and coordination now than at the beginning of his career. His daytime strength and conditioning classes are designed to work for each student and ameliorate these issues.
Injury reduction is an important side effect of a well-rounded strength and conditioning program. “We work hand-in-hand with the athletic trainers and receive injury reports every day. For fall athletes, the reports are small. We mostly see collision-based injuries such as broken bones. Strains and sprains are limited, and our concussion rates are very low compared to other schools,” Clarke said. He attributes this to their neck and diaphragm training that happens during strength and conditioning class.
The other aspect is athlete empowerment. Clarke’s work has helped coaches help students improve the things coaches can’t normally control, such as sleep and nutrition. They talk about these factors every day during warm-ups and give the student-athletes all of the information they can to empower them to make good choices regarding sleep and the fuel going into their bodies. “It’s not just a protein bar,” Clarke said.
Clarke talks about how many carbs they should be consuming and how much water they need to stay hydrated. And these discussions have paid off. In his time at Noblesville, average sleep has gone up from 7.2 hours up to a full 8.
“When student-athletes leave any solid program, they are physically and mentally better. They are more well-rounded people through the opportunities we provide. And they’re more confident,” Clarke said. “We try to build powerful, engaged student leaders.”
When Clarke started at Noblesville 11 years ago, only 100 student-athletes were taking a school-day strength and conditioning class. He believes that this type of training empowers students to become leaders. It develops them and helps create accountability. Today, over 750 future leaders are developed during the day at Noblesville via Clarke’s strength and conditioning classes.
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