By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor
Since taking over as the Rio Rancho (N.M.) head coach in 2009, David Howes has turned the Rams into a perennial state championship contender. Last fall, Rio Rancho won its second state championship in a span of three seasons.
Howes has designed varying offensive systems over the years at Rio Rancho – some relying more on the pass while others have catered to a running quarterback’s strengths. The one consistent aspect of his offensive philosophy is an up-tempo style. He shared his tips for conditioning in-season.
Lift three times a week. Howes wants his players to make their strength gains in the spring and summer, and stick to a three-day-a-week lifting schedule in-season. “That’s part of conditioning,” Howes said. “We lift Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. We tend to have a schedule for everything.”
Practice like you play. Rio Rancho runs an up-tempo offense in games, so Howes requires that the Rams do the same in practice. “We’re a no-huddle, high-tempo offense, so we do everything high-tempo during the practice phase. We go nonstop.”
Eliminate down time. Some teams lose the conditioning aspect of practice by taking too much time during transitions. Move the players to the next drill quickly, and make sure they are aware of the entire practice schedule. No surprises.
Keep a running clock. The players have to get used to performing mentally and physically against a running clock during games, so make them do it in practice too. “Everything is timed during our practices,” Howes said. “We do a really good job of staying on the clock with time segments. We push them to the limits so that everyone is gassed by the end of practice.”
Set one day for post-practice conditioning. Howes doesn’t include post-practice conditioning often, but will when the rest of the practice was particularly light in terms of conditioning. “We have learning Mondays and script or situational Wednesdays. So we might do it on those days when we’re not operating at a fast tempo.”
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