By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor
The offseason is a great time for a player to make gains in the weight room and on the field. Without the proper rest, a player’s hard work might not pay off as much as it should.
Steve Wilmot spent 19 years as the strength and conditioning coach at Neshaminy High (Pa.) before becoming the head coach in 2005. With a focus on nutrition and recovery since his hire, Wilmot has led the team to three consecutive winning seasons, including an 11-1 mark last fall.
Wilmot, who is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, offers 10 keys to rest and recovery for players.
- Put down the phone at night. Players are losing sleep these days because they are staying up late surfing the internet and using social media on their phones. The LED light makes it difficult to go to sleep even after the phone is powered down for the night. Players should set a phone curfew of 8 p.m.
- Track progress in the weight room. If a player is spending the same amount of time in the weight room as his teammates, but he’s not seeing the gains, he may want to consider the rest factor. A teenager’s body is still growing, and needs eight to nine hours a night of sleep.
- Stick to one training plan. Wilmot understands that many athletes have access to local gyms or personal trainers. However, he encourages his players to lift at school with their teammates so he can monitor their progress and make sure they’re not overtraining.
- Take breaks in the offseason. Wilmot gave his players three weeks off to recover at the end of the season. He then started the offseason strength program, but he offers other short breaks during the offseason so players are not burnt out at the start of training camp.
- Preach the importance of rest and recovery. High school players often mistakenly feel as if more is always better. Let them know that they need to give their bodies time to recover to enjoy the benefits of their hard work.
- Build stretching periods into workouts. Wilmot’s offseason workouts include two speed days. The first 20 minutes of each speed workout includes a stretching period that helps with flexibility.
- Weigh players regularly. Wilmot weighs his players every two to three weeks to ensure that they are on track to hit their offseason goals. Each individual has a different plan, but if a player is not trending in the right direction, Wilmot will address the player’s nutrition and recovery.
- Place an assistant in charge of recovery. Wilmot has an assistant coach, Ray Jones, who offers advice to players on diet, supplements and sleep. Wilmot is adamant that the players should hear one message from the entire coaching staff, and Jones preaches the message of Wilmot.
- Research the latest trends. One habit that Wilmot has carried with him from his days as a strength coach is constantly researching fitness trends to find out if he can implement new strategies.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Reinforce the importance of hydration to recovery. Take breaks on the field and in the weight room to allow players to hydrate. They’ll perform better and learn the importance of hydration.
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