High school strength coaches put a heavy emphasis on basic lifts and fundamentals for a reason.

Not only are athletes’ bodies not fully developed, but their weight training experience is usually limited coming into high school, if they have any at all.

At Center Grove, they’re trying to get the basics down as early as possible. Head football and track coach Eric Moore runs the Center Grove Power Club, which he set up to help students in grades 1 through 8 on basic exercise movements.

“We started with hand-held kettlebell weights and broomsticks and bands and boxes and sleds and ropes and med balls and jump ropes,” Center Grove strength and conditioning coordinator Marty Mills explained, “and we just did big athletic movements to teach them — it taught them the high school weightlifting program, because it’s just movements. When I talk to them, I hardly talk about lifts.”

Whiteland’s strength and conditioning coordinator Luke Harris started a similar program when he took the job at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year. He doesn’t start kids quite as young as Center Grove does just yet; Harris’ program is currently limited to future Warriors in grades 6 to 8. But the premise is similar — an introduction to the basic movements involved in speed and strength training.

“It’s very simple, because most of them have never been exposed to stuff like that,” Harris said. “Usually, my first time working with them is their first time doing anything like that.”

Those movements include proper running technique — something that Moore, who also is the Trojans’ track and field coach, loves working with kids on.

“I don’t know very many high school football coaches like Coach Moore who like to work out second-graders,” Mills said, smiling. “He loves it.”

“That’s actually the funnest part of my year, if you want to know the truth,” Moore added. “They all want to be there; they listen intently.”

Not every strength coach might subscribe to the idea of starting kids off in the weight room at that young of an age, but the end goal at Center Grove or Whiteland is the same as it is at Edinburgh or Indian Creek or anywhere else.

The idea everywhere is to maximize potential. Any differences are in the details.

“We’re teaching them that mentality that this is what you do,” Mills said. “You get better every day.”

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Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at roleary@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.