Transition to Remote Coaching

Sports Performance | Strength & Conditioning


Josh Schillim

Josh Schillim is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Saint Mary in Kansas. Prior to USM, Josh worked as an assistant strength coach at Wayne State College in Nebraska and as a graduate assistant of sports performance at Benedictine College (Kansas) and Central Methodist University (Missouri). To further connect, reach out to Josh via email at [email protected].

// Transition to Remote Coaching as an NAIA Strength Coach

For coaches, the squat rack is sacred. Coaches plan movements around how they can do their basic foundational movements in the rack. With weight rooms closed across the country, coaches must adapt to how they will be able to train their athletes for success in their sport. For most, a rack, barbell, dumbbells, and other luxuries college programs have in the weight room are not an option. 

Adapting a program with an emphasis on squat, bench, clean, and deadlifts is a challenge that all strength and conditioning coaches are facing. Finding ways to keep athletes engaged with maintaining strength levels is essential for when they return to campus. Whether the institution has the financial means to provide training sessions to their athletes or if the staff sends a Word document to each team providing workouts, the athletes must continue to train. Coaches need to keep their primary movements at the center of the program, but simply adapt what modalities they use.

Communication is key

With a focus on athletic development, keeping a connection to coaches and teammates may be more critical. Keeping athletes engaged with each other, and their coaches will keep cohesion between everyone. In a time where social distancing is necessary, and interaction with each other is limited, maintaining a sense of team comradery is a must. Text, GroupMe, FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom are a few examples of ways to say in touch and interact with athletes. Any form of communication can help keep the athlete feel as if they are still part of the team and provide them with a support system in a new way.

Keeping athletes engaged socially is essential and doing so can be challenging. After ensuring that the athletes are still engaging with teammates and coaches, the next priority is to make sure that athletes are training correctly. Creating a training environment for athletes is a difficult task. There are a variety of ways to help student-athletes while training from home.

Ways to increase the effectiveness of an at-home, minimal equipment session include:

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Tempo Movements

Simply changing the speed at which an exercise is done will change the difficulty of the movement.

Rest Intervals

Reducing or increasing the amount of time between movements will change the energy system that is being used.


Adding additional sets and reps will change the intensity of the training system while adding to the athletes’ work capacity.

These three ways of increasing training session effectiveness will change the amount of effort the athlete will need to give. There is only so much a coach can change when the athlete does not have access to a weight room. As painful as the reality it is to accept, athletes get bored fast. Giving athletes a program with minimal equipment and a small variety of movements at a coach’s disposal, coaches need to be creative. 

Creative ways to keep athletes engaged during home training sessions:

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Find Equipment

Less traditional equipment may include cinder blocks, bungee cords, gallon jugs, backpacks, and buckets filled with books.


With athletes using social media as frequently as they do, issue challenges via Twitter and Instagram. Challenges can include who can find the largest or strangest item to squat safely or how many days in a row they can go outside and walk for 10 minutes (while maintaining proper social distancing).

Creative Lifts

Creative lifts break up the monotony of bodyweight squats, pushups, and running. For example, a deck of cards can be used to by picking the face cards to decide a movement and the number cards to determine the reps.


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