FNF Coaches Talk — Podcast with a Strength and Conditioning Expert, Using Grading Systems, Don’t Abuse Officials

Happy Thursday, Coaches. We’re almost to our favorite day of the week. Here’s three stories for you.

1. FNF Coaches Podcast: Listen to Southside High (Ark.) Coach Dee Smith Break Down the ‘Feed the Cats’ Method and the Tribe Test (FNF Coaches)

Southside High (Ark.) strength coach Dee Smith used to make his athletes do standard football conditioning drills – 110- and 300-yard shuttles and gassers.

Those standard fare football intervals gave him a sense of which athletes were in shape. But they never really helped build team chemistry. If anything, the bigger linemen grew to resent the skill position players who could finish the repeats much faster.

Smith sought out a conditioning test that leveled the playing field for all players. He wanted them all to run for the same amount of time while maxing effort.

He shared the drill that levels the playing field on our podcast and also explained Tony Holler’s “Feed the Cats” training method, which keeps players happy and healthy in the weight room.

Final note: I also dropped a few hints at the end of the podcast to EASY ways in which coaches can win free gear like drones and sideline replay systems. If you can hang in there until the end, the reward is there for you.


2. Using Performance Grading in the High School Strength Program (TeamBuildr)

We just did a story on Tony Holler’s “Feed the Cats” philosophy and this coach shares the same approach to strength training.

Lee Weber is the head football coach and strength coach at Rose Hill High School in Kansas. He is an original member and Kansas State Director of the National High School Strength Coaches Association (NHSSCA).

He grades his athletes on their attitude as well as their performance.

While participation and readiness for class comprise the bulk of a student’s grade in my class, I realized very quickly that performance has to play a factor in a grade in physical education or strength training classes. Performance on assessments is something that we have in mathematics, language arts, and science classes, but for some reason, even the best of the physical education and strength world avoid grading on performance as if it were taboo. I do not. People who are athletes and great at physical skills should not have to apologize for being good at physical activity nor should we lower the bar completely for students by basing our assessments in a physical activity based class purely on participation and the ability to pull on gym shorts, a t-shirt, and tennis shoes every day.
The first way in which Weber grades does not favor the stronger or more athletic players. It tips the scales to balance in favor of the most motivated players.
First, let’s explain the framework of grading in my class. Each student receives 4 points daily. For years, I was a proponent of a 10 point daily grading system, but I was convinced to move to a 4 point scale as it is a more fair grading philosophy. My four criteria for the 4 points are as follows:
  • 1 point = Readiness
  • 1 point = Effort
  • 1 point = Attitude
  • 1 point = Load

However, Weber does also account for max lifts, like most other strength coaches.

Our summative assessment or final is what most people would commonly call “maxing out.” We have a battery of tests that we perform because I have identified these as measures that we think best evaluates our program and our athletes. Our tests are as follows:
Vertical Leap
Pro Agility Test
Flying 10M Dash
20M Dash
Just Jump 4 Jump Test or Broad Jump
Bench Press 1 Rep Max
Squat 1 Rep Max
Power Clean 1 Rep Max


What is the benefit of recording and posting your players’ results in the weight room?

3. The NFHS Voice: Recognition and Thanks – Not Abuse – Needed for High School Officials (National Federation of State High School Associations)

This one struck a cord for us because we published an entire edition on addressing this issue in high school football. Officials in every sport — particularly high school football — are leaving the profession due to the abuse they take from parents and coaches.

The NFHS President weighs in on this issue in this column with some good news from the 2019 season.

Last fall, we reported on a growing shortage of officials nationwide – even reaching a crisis stage in some areas as games were being cancelled. Through a nationwide recruitment effort, progress is being made in attracting more people to the high school officiating avocation.
Thanks to the NFHS’ #BecomeAnOfficial campaign that was launched in the spring of 2017, more than 4,000 men and women across the country have registered and become certified officials.

Unfortunately, the number of officials leaving the profession makes it difficult to sustain growth in the officiating ranks.

If efforts by the NFHS at the national level – and others at state and local levels – to attract more people to officiating are to be successful, unsportsmanlike behavior on the part of parents and other fans must cease or we will lose some of these new officials within two years.
While we recognize the task of improving the culture at high school events is challenging and is one more item on the busy plates of school administrators, it is essential if we are to retain officials.


What are you doing to try to improve the relationship between coaches, parents and officials?