By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor
Juniata College (Pa.) head strength and conditioning coach Doug Smith, CSCS, was the 2015 National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Coach of the Year. He offers 10 tips for designing an in-season strength program.
Adjust the intensity of the workout to the practice/game schedule. Schedule the most intense lift of the week on any easier practice day, and allow at least three days to recover before game day.
Design a separate program for developmental players. Those who are not playing in the varsity game on Friday night can lift hard later in the week and on the weekend.
Stress bar speed over heavy weights. In-season strength training should emphasize the recruitment of fast-twitch muscles. That means lighter weights and faster repetitions.
Assign position-specific lifts. Linemen can be more aggressive than skill position players with lower-body lifts and punching bags, while skill players could work on hand-grip strength.
Go through various ranges of motion. Practice firing the muscles at different angles to prevent injuries in games.
Use bands for rehab. Stretch cords and bands can be used to strengthen tendons and assist in recovery, taking into account an individual’s injury history and weaknesses.
Record – but don’t emphasize – lifting stats. It’s important to track a player’s strength gains or declines in-season to track the success of the program. But don’t overemphasize the numbers so that players sacrifice recovery time.
Heavy days should be low-rep days. It’s OK to build an intense workout into a week of in-season training as long as it doesn’t beat down on the body. Quick sets with short reps will allow for maintenance.
Preach perfect technique. Poor lifting form can cause injuries, which is the last thing a coach wants to hear about in-season. Decrease weight if a player is lifting with bad technique.
Build functional strength. Incorporate exercises like chin-ups, Romanian dead lifts, shuttles, vertical jumps, broad jumps, medicine ball throws, hand-grip strength, overhead squats, sledgehammer, sand bags and ropes.
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