By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor
Since installing a new strength and conditioning program in 2015, second-year Colleyville Heritage (Texas) coach Joe Willis has seen the offseason participation numbers increase by 70 percent and concussions drop by 50 percent.
One major focus in the Colleyville Heritage strength program is balance. By that, Willis does not mean equilibrium or the ability for a player to stay on his feet. He means balanced muscle composition so that the back of a player’s body has equal muscle development as the front.
“It’s balance in terms of the front and the back of the body,” Willis said. “If there’s any imbalance, an athlete is more likely to get injured. For every push, we have a pull exercise to balance it out.”
Willis and his staff also focus on strengthening the posterior chain, a group of muscles and tendons in the posterior of the body.
“We find that most high school athletes have stronger muscles in the front of their bodies,” Willis said. “I’m not nearly as concerned about looking at an athlete from the front as I am the side. That’s where you can see if he has underdeveloped muscles in the posterior chain.”
Willis also stresses that players should develop the muscles around their respective necks. By building up that muscle, he has found they are less susceptible for concussions. The number of concussions in his program decreased from eight in 2015 to four last season.
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