Posted May 17, 2012 by
Developing a program that translates to the field is a great way for you and your coaches, as well as your athletes to understand the importance of an offseason strength program.
Train Smarter Not Longer
As coaches we must evaluate our strength sessions the same way we evaluate our offensive and defensive practice. The ability to train effectively and efficiently is the ultimate goal but can be difficult if you are not organized. Try these tips to help get the most out of strength sessions:
- Determine your training goals in advance: Where does your team need to improve: strength, speed, power, competitiveness? Whatever the area is, you must design your program around the specific outcomes that are desired.
- Create your program in advance: It will be time consuming for you, however, by writing your program in advance you assure that your training goals will remain in the forefront. In addition, it will save you time during the week to focus on other aspects of the team.
- Pick position and skill-specific exercises: Choose exercises that directly translate to the field. Today’s athletes want to know why they are doing something. By picking position-specific exercises they will be able to see the correlation from weight room to field immediately.
Utilize Bang-for-Your-Buck Exercises
While your strength sessions will never recreate the physicality of football they can be structured to replicate the same strength and stamina demands. The bulk of your session should utilize multi-joint, compound exercises. Compound exercises are made up of two or more exercise being safely put into one. Compound exercises have been found to increase testosterone levels, increase lean body mass, and help burn fat due to the higher caloric output demands.
Change a (single joint) seated over head military press to a (multi-joint) dumbbell lunge curl to over head press.
Train to be Explosive
Football is an explosive, speed-dominated sport. Create your program to include explosive lifts in every session. The “Olympic Style” lifts such as clean, snatch and jerk press can help in the development of fast twitch muscle contractions and make a difference on the field. Increase in strength, speed, power as well as metabolic conditioning are all benefits of explosive power training. Explosive training has also proven to increase overall functional performance in balance, core, stability and flexibility.
Phase your Workouts to Increase Strength and Power
Periodization and phasing is the process of controlling specific training variables to help your athletes progress through a program safely and effectively. There are many schools of thought on which phasing is best for football athletes. Do your research and decide which one best fits your program goals. A properly phased program can have your athletes making extreme strength gains and peaking at the right time.
Create a Game-Like Atmosphere
Competition is a must in the weight room. Athletes will start to doubt the necessity if sessions start to drag. Instill a level of competition in the weight room that will keep your athletes looking forward to the next day. Pick an opponent each week and make them the focus in the weight room. Put their logo on the wall and tell your kids that each session is a quarter in the game. At the end of each session determine if they worked hard enough to “win” that quarter. Include daily competitions in your sessions, celebrate the winners and notice the losers. Alternate individual and group competitions. Remember to keep it fun, interactive and competitive. Develop a high-tempo atmosphere that keeps the kids accountable and taxed through the entire session. Time everything. Putting a clock on lifts will keep your athletes in game mode and give them added focus.
Robert Pomazak MS, PES, SES is a National Association of Sports Medicine certified Performance Enhancement and Speed Specialist. He currently serves as strength and conditioning coordinator at Elk Grove High School in Elk Grove Village (Ill.), where he has taught physical education and coached varsity football and baseball for the past 10 years. He focuses on sport-specific program development and performance training for the high school athlete.