5 Steps for Managing Large Groups: Part 2

In the first installment of this 5 part series, I went over my tried-and-true methods for getting buy-in from my athletes and touted it as being the most important of the 5 factors to managing large groups.


The second step in getting big time results for your teams, all while keeping your sanity involves the meticulous planning of their sessions.

Every minute of every training session should be assigned and accounted. This is critical in maintaining focus, energy, and consistency from your large groups. Give them a minute, yes, just a minute, of standing around and the system will start to crack. Side conversations are struck, people relax, eyes come off you.

Just like a practice plan, each session with the strength coach (whether for weight room or conditioning) should be planned out to the minute. If you want the team to take your session seriously, then show them first how seriously you take it.

Run the team with precision. With really large groups (so, for me that would be over the 20 person mark), I would actually run every repetition on command for our compound lifts. What a breeze it makes a lift - precise, beautiful, and most importantly: productive.

Here’s how you do it:

Click to enlarge image: When reviewing your program, make notes about time allotted at each series/station and look for problems and bottlenecks in room flow.

  1. Prior to program design, give some consideration to the nature of this particular team or group: How well do they work together? Is it a group that can lead itself or do they depend on coaches to help them stay focused.

    1. These components will impact actual exercise selection and room management factors.

  2. How many of them are there compared to your available equipment? Keep these limits in mind as you build your training plan.

    1. Try not to be that coach that makes his team of 30 use a speciality piece of equipment of which you only have 2 units. I’ve, sadly, done this more times than I care to admit.

  3. Okay, go ahead and get the program design done.

  4. As you review the program, be sure to think in terms of floor management: where will everyone be and when? How long is given to each series? How much time are you giving to everyone to get from one series to the next?

  5. Will the room need to be set up beforehand? If so, plan for that, too. Who is helping with setup and takedown? We’re trying to make this super-smooth.

  6. What else are you missing? Did you factor in time for the warm-up, cool-down and any other nuances to this particular group or coach or whatever that you already know will impact the session?

Once the planning of actual time is taken care of, you’re ready to rock that team’s session.

Part 3 is up next: Enlist Help

Sarah Walls

A little about me: I've worked in pretty much every corner of the fitness industry for about 10 years. I've had the great fortune of spending most of this time working with gifted athletes at every level. I've also had the great opportunity of designing and conducting research projects, writing occasionally for various publications and blogs, competing in powerlifting, and just generally having a killer time pursuing my passions wherever they may take me. Now I own two businesses: one is an athletic performance training company that I started in 2007 at age 26 and the other is a software company startup that was launched in 2014. Paramount to all the awesomeness of my professional career, is my family. My kids are a thrill and my husband continues to be my most critical and important supporter.