March 24, 2013

Strength and Conditioning - Big picture

The head guy at my alma mater is someone who's on a different level compared to most folks.  He's something else, he really is.  The football program there is undefeated in league the last two years, with only one league loss in the last three, three playoff appearances in a row including a run to the finals last season (which was supposed to be a rebuilding year), and is looking at winning his 6th section championship sometime in the next two years as his rising Jr class is STACKED with talent, several of whom got significant varsity playing time as sophomores.

How has he done this?  It's hard to point to any one thing, honestly.  He brought the Wing-T with him and is running for 400+ yards a game with it.  He has ~40 kids on the team at all three levels of the program.  He works his players as hard as anyone else in practice and demands accountability from them like no one else I've ever seen.  That said, in my opinion, the biggest impact on the program has been the change in the weight program.

His workout style is different from anything I've seen in a football program.  They do Upper Body on Monday, Lower on Tues, Core on Wednesday, Olympics on Thursday, Shoulders/Competitive Games on Friday.  They rotate three times through eight different exercises with minimal rest in between.  It's essentially a body building split with superset/circuit training infused with lots of stability exercises.  Explaining it doesn't do it justice, however.  It's organized chaos with hustle, energy, and lots and lots of sweat.  If an overweight kid has a half decent work ethic, the weight melts off his body and his body composition completely changes after a year of going through the weight program.

Recently on Coach Huey I asked about this program and if I was missing something compared to the traditional style workouts that I'd seen other people using.  The resounding response I got was this: the results being achieved were because of the kids committing to working their asses off, his ability to drive them to work said asses off, and teenage physiology being fantastic for building muscle/losing weight.

So if this fairly unique workout style isn't the key, then, what do we learn from this?

1-What you do isn't as important as how you do it.  Countless hours are spent debating what we should/shouldn't be doing in the weight room, but really, as long as your program is organized and safe and your kids are working hard, you'll get good results.

2-Change your lifts up, avoid settling into a routine.  One of the best things that Coach B does is he's constantly having them do new and different exercises, which helps keep things fresh and therefore keeps the energy/enthusiasm good because the kids never know what's coming.

2a-Corollary: Don't necessarily do new/weird stuff just for the sake of doing it.  One way to incorporate point #2 is to have a PROGRESSION of exercises to develop their abilities, as well as keep things fresh.

3-Get bodies in the weight room.  You don't know who you're helping when they start coming in and you don't know how you're helping them.  Some kids need football more than football needs them and some kids look like Jane but lift like Tarzan (and vice versa).  Football teams need depth and they need to have second tier players (not your stars, but not your scrubs) who are strong, healthy, and mobile athletes.  I truly believe that the team with the better second tier players will usually come out triumphant.

4-Incorporate competitive games/drills during the off season.  You'll learn about your players by putting them in new/different settings.  You'll see who you can count on, who you can't, who your winners are, and who is a competitor.  Just make something up, it doesn't nearly matter as much as having them get after each other.


Bottom line: get them in the weight room, push them hard in an organized program, keep things fresh, keep it fun.

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