Building Strength of Mind in the Weight Room

  • Athletics
  • The Teenage Years
Building Strength of Mind in the Weight Room
Dan Hill, Strength and Conditioning Coach

No matter how long the journey takes, every adventure starts with one single step. In my role as the strength and conditioning coach for Bear Creek students, I recognize the courage it takes just to walk into the weight room. Knowing that you are about to work as hard as possible, and taking that step anyway, can be the first step in developing a foundational habit that leads to resilience and fortitude. Although life can be challenging, often strength is created because of trials.

Developing this toughness, and learning how to become a mental warrior, helps every one of my students in all aspects of their lives.

Let the Weak Say, “I Am Strong”

I often tell my students, “The workout starts before the workout starts.” This means, when the bell rings and they are heading toward the fitness center, they should start thinking positive thoughts. Think, “I am going to crush this workout today. I am feeling good. I am so strong. I know I’m ready. Today is going to be a phenomenal day. I’m excited to work out!” In the weight room, I do not focus as much on the physical training as you might think. It is more about training the mind. That is to say, if you think you can do it, you probably will. If you think you can’t do it, you probably won’t. This concept even applies to your normal, everyday routines.

coach showing flex exercise

One of my students, sophomore Jonathan B. describes, “Working out not only positively impacts your physical state, but it also greatly influences your mental and emotional states…" He continues, “Working out in the fitness center with Coach Hill and several other friends [helped me] to gain more confidence in myself and achieve the physical benefits of working out.”

The Bible tells us in Romans 12:2, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Learning how to approach obstacles in life mentally will help every student jump over obstacles (or plyo boxes!).


My favorite part of coaching is seeing my students’ efforts pay off.

A rising tide lifts all boats. When we work hard physically, it can serve to empower us to achieve more in every facet of life. Some students have had a transformational experience at Bear Creek because of the strength and conditioning program. Sophomore Lucy G., a cyclist as well as a soccer and basketball player, describes, “In addition to learning the form of lifting, the fitness center taught me about confidence, hard work, and the importance of pushing past mental barriers.”

middle school girls with hand weights

Lucy explains, “Something about being able to add more weight on the squat rack or the trap bar helped me believe in myself during races on the velodrome. In the process of becoming stronger physically, I have learned a lot about discipline which has led me to apply that in other aspects of my life…I am very grateful for the Bear Creek community that has helped make the fitness center available for everyone.” Physical training is about significantly more than exercising hard or training to improve as an athlete. It sharpens the mind, strengthens self-belief and confidence, and reveals to the student-athlete that they are far more capable than they have ever believed.


When dedication, perseverance, and consistency evolve into a boost in self-confidence, it empowers the student to build up the students around them.

middle school boys working with weights

Lucy G. shares, “I had never lifted weights before, but I started going to the fitness center at the beginning of soccer season last year. I immediately loved the positive environment that allowed me to work out before practice and learn more about strength. The fitness center fosters a very encouraging environment which has helped me to become more encouraging toward others.”

There is nourishment in encouragement. Every single person in the world needs someone who believes in him or her—imagine being that person for someone else. This is the thought that serves as my central motivation behind being Bear Creek’s head strength and conditioning coach. We can all do more and achieve more than we ever dreamed when we are in an atmosphere where encouragement is a core value. Genuine encouragement does not come from a place of insecurity, but rather in the quiet confidence of knowing that you are created by God and given unique gifts to fulfill a purpose!

Work in Progress

The weight room can be a place where many of life’s lessons are learned in an invaluable way. Exercise is hard; it should be tough! But it is also full of joy, laughter, encouragement, and amazing accomplishments. Effort is the ultimate currency because the weight room is also a place that is extremely objective. What you put in is exactly what you get out of it. If you work hard and dedicate yourself to improving as an athlete, you will. If you wish it would happen but never put in the work, then you will fail to bear the fruits.

upper school student lifting weight

I like to envision that every student is learning how to become more of the person that God created him or her to be. Something as simple as the weight room can help mold someone to follow Jesus more deeply, to live life with conviction, and to love and build others up as Jesus first loved and encouraged us.


About the Author

Dan Hill

Daniel Hill started coaching at Bear Creek in 2019. Previously, he worked as a personal trainer at PRO Club and also did a stint at the University of Kansas as a strength and conditioning intern. Coach Hill loves encouraging and teaching students to live a healthy and active lifestyle, and he loves to build people up and serve others. He is excited to invest in the lives of students at Bear Creek to help them be the best version of who God created them to be.

Dan holds a B.A. in Journalism and a B.A. in English Language and Literature from Baylor University.

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