Pen vs. Pencil Programming

When it comes to programming, it's important to be firm with your values but flexible with your approach. Programming is obviously very dependent on the time of season, so knowing and understanding the athlete's training intensities on their respective field of play will be very important in creating a sound program. The pen vs. pencil approach refers to off-season programming being written in pen and in-season programming being written in pencil. Pen programming is structured and less subject to change, whereas pencil programming can be erased and altered each day.

Now, just because an off-season program is written in "pen" does not mean it can't change, what I mean is that since the focus for the athlete's has shifted to their training in the weight room, they can be challenged and progressively overloaded week after week because their goal is to increase their physical strength, explosiveness, power, etc., so rep and set schemes are set up in a certain way to reflect the progression. In-season programming is in pencil because it's important to compliment the athlete's competitive phase of practices and games. This means having a base plan, but having modifications/ adaptations to use in case the athlete's needs change after a game or competition.

A tool I just recently started using thanks to my big bro Dante, is a daily ratings survey. With the track & field team here at OU, I meet with them every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon during season. Because they are competing each and every weekend this semester (between indoor season and outdoor season), it is VERY important for me to tailor the workouts to their abilities. Our focus is to maintain the strength we built in the off-season and keep them healthy and injury-free during competition. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, they are sent a google form with a series of questions for them to fill out. Every athlete has to fill out each question before 12pm, so I can go through and evaluate how each of them are feeling that day. From there, I can assess who may need modifications or adjustments to the existing program, which is composed of simple, foundational movements.

This has been incredibly beneficial for me as a coach to track how my athletes are feeling during season and has allowed me to tailor things more specifically to their needs. I care a lot about my athletes and want them to realize that I have their best interest and well-being in mind during each and every workout.

If you're a coach and use any another tracking systems and/ or evaluation tools, comment below!