Strength Coaching Philosophy: Three Core Ideas at St. Viator High School
Strength Training Insights from Alex Nadolna
Alex Nadolna is the Director of Strength and Conditioning at St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He joined the Lions in 2018 after an extensive coaching stint at New Trier High School. Before that he spent time as an intern at Loyola University Chicago, where he worked with Loyola's men's and women's NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletic programs. We reached out to him to get some insights into his coaching approach.
How would you describe your coaching philosophy?
My coaching philosophy centers around 3 core ideas: safety, consistency and teamwork.
Safety meaning not only physical safety but psychological safety as well. I make it a point to emphasize that everyone belongs in the weight room. The only prerequisite is the desire to improve.
The consistency piece is one that has been born out of my own experience with training. If you want to continue to improve throughout your career and life, then the only way to do that is by consistently showing up and giving your best effort.
Teamwork is super important to us as well because, much like consistency, there is no replacement for it. The atmosphere that’s created when an athlete and their teammates are training together, pushing each other, and supporting each other is not something you can replicate anywhere else. I know for a fact that it impacts their training and I also believe, and have seen firsthand, how it creates a bond that carries over into the sport.
Describe the evolution of weight rooms over the years and your vision for this current weight room.
In my time here I’ve always felt that we were fortunate to have the weight room that we did. Thanks to support from the administration and the community we were able to have a space that most other high schools could only dream of. When I was given the opportunity to redesign the space I did so with two ideas in mind. The first was creating a layout that reflected my coaching style and how I like sessions to run. By maximizing the layout, we can be more effective and efficient for our student-athletes. The second idea was the branding of the overall space. I wanted it to be unmistakable whose school you were at when you were standing in our weight room.
How has Hammer Strength played a role in bringing your vision to reality?
I really appreciated the input that I got from the entire hammer strength team when it came to the layout of the space. Based on the conversations we had I could immediately tell that they were there to give us the space we wanted, not just sell us their product. Also, the customizable options available really gave us the aesthetic that we desired and felt we had been lacking.
How do you measure success?
We have our Key Performance Indicators that we track over time to make sure we’re achieving what it is we set out to achieve – strength, speed, power, etc. In addition to that, I aim to equip our students with the skills and knowledge to continue training throughout their entire life. I want them to have the confidence to walk into a weight room at any age and know that they’re doing things right.
What high standards do you apply to yourself and athletes?
There are a ton of little examples like cleaning up after yourself, communicating openly, and recognizing that everything you do reflects your team and Saint Viator. I would also say a big one is to constantly strive for improvement. While that may seem vague, the general idea is that I want them to look for every opportunity that they can to get better. It’s not always something that will be reflected in the numbers either, being a better teammate or leader than you were the day before can have a huge impact on the progress of yourself and your teammates. The tradeoff there is I need to make sure that I’m constantly growing and learning as well. I always want to closely look at what we’re doing and find areas where we can improve the product we’re giving to the student-athletes.