All things considered equal, strength and conditioning regimens can be a game-changer for a football team.
Football programs in the region implement physical preparation strategies to varying degrees. Their endgame is a better season and changed players.
“Our primary goal in the weight room is to create the best athlete possible,” Madison head football and track coach Alex McMillian said via email. “We try to focus on power, strength and speed and we have focused on mobility this summer.”
Call it athletic performance, athletic performance, physical preparation, or strength and conditioning. This means mentally preparing players and physically honing their athletic skills. There is no dropping the ball in these programs. No efficiency, no interest.
“At the end of the day, I do my best to find what our kids respond to best and puts us in the best position to be the best athlete we can be,” McMillian said.
University of Kansas football coach Matt Gildersleeve said joining KU goes beyond physical enhancement. This is the cultural platform on which the program is based.
“We put our guys in tough spots and let them grow,” he said. “But we also do a lot of education in the classroom…we call it cultural development here.”
Of course, there are differences between high school and Division I. Gildersleeve likens it to a tube of toothpaste. With high school athletes, you push the tube down and a voluminous amount of dough comes out. Division I players need a lot of scrunching and squeezing to produce a useful amount of dough.
The whole concept, or at least the facilitation, of athletic performance training began with the Soviets. Sports scientist Leonid Matveyev is the author of a system focusing on a specific segment of training during a block of time. The program manipulated the intensity, volume, and recovery aspects of the particular type of training.
In the 1980s, controversial Canadian track and field coach Charlie Francis introduced a vertical integration platform that emphasized one specific element of training while addressing other aspects to a lesser extent at the during the same training block. Many of today’s programs are apparently derived from the principles and methodology of Matveyev and Francis.
Madison uses a triumvirate of programs to address the totality of physical preparation. The Bulldogs use the Triphasic Method in the weight room, a strength training program consisting of two-week training blocks that focus on the body’s three muscle actions in the program’s core lifts. For speed, McMillian incorporated the “Feed the Cats” speed program, which uses maximum speed and maximum intensity work. For flexibility, they adopted a series of exercises that would reduce unnecessary pain and discomfort and alleviate problems limiting flexibility. McMillan players call it “voodoo magic”.
Chase County High football uses self-regulating progressive resistance exercise training comprising three programs dictated by the physiological adaptations required for player performance – muscle gain, strength gains, or strength endurance (or a combination thereof) . Chase County completes the program with additional lifts and plyometrics (explosiveness).
“We’re lucky to have an amazing strength coach/teacher (Alex Weiss) who does summer and school weights,” Chase County head football coach Brody VanDegrift said. , by email.
At KU, it’s principles versus methods. Lawrence’s fundamental principle is inductive reasoning.
“Our first principle that we train from is that we work backwards from the game,” Gildersleeve said. “So no matter what sports you train and coach, we’ll always study the game first and see the demands of the sport. Now there are a lot of training methods. There’s West Side Barbell, there’s 5 /3/1, there are all these different methods that can get you there. But these methods are interchangeable. Your principles cannot be.
Although a physical preparation program is always required to some degree, its importance to the athlete’s overall training can vary from coach to coach.
In “Game Changer: The Art of Sports Science”, Dr. Fergus Connolly states that an amplified physique is beneficial, but game tactics and intelligence, positional technique and psychological preparation are more vital .
“Power is nothing without control,” Connolly wrote. “The All Blacks (New Zealand’s famous national rugby team) focus on the game and recognize that it is not won indoors. Other national teams spend exorbitant amounts of money on exotic foreign training camps that focus on developing strength and power at the expense of skill and sense of play.”
But that exact sentiment doesn’t seem to be shared in the state of Kansas.
“The most important thing to understand, especially at the college level, is strength and conditioning, it’s one piece of the puzzle…it’s definitely a big piece,” Gildersleeve said. “But at the end of the day, our job is to prepare our athletes to play football. Nobody signs a letter of intent to come and play weightlifting.
However, the psychological piece is a commonality between Connolly and the KU program. Gildersleeve said one of the cornerstones of the program is educating players about Jayhawks football culture. It’s a three-pronged approach: defining culture, teaching culture, and demanding culture.
“Everything we do has to be geared towards improving the athlete in this sport and then obviously improving the human being,” he said.
McMillian believes an exceptional strength program is the most crucial element to being competitive. But like KU football, Madison’s program transcends the physical side of the equation.
“In addition to making you a better athlete, it teaches time management, work ethic, reliability, discipline, leadership and mutual accountability,” he said.
VanDegrift feels the same. “Our summer program builds more than strength. It gives our guys time to work together and bond that will be needed in November.
McMillian, who obviously places a very high value on physical preparation, offered a succinct view of his position in the football program.
“Once I asked a manager who had won many more games than me what was the most important thing to win football games. He replied: “I will give you four things. weight room 2. Weight room 3. Weight room 4. Weight room.