Cabot High (Ark.) coach Mike Malham has spent the last 38 years stressing the importance of physical preparation heading into the fall season. That philosophy has led to the second-most wins in Arkansas state history.
Since becoming the Cabot High head coach in 1981, Malham has spent summers pushing his athletes to prepare themselves on the track. He has pushed his teams to a record of 297-133-4 throughout his career and won two state championships (1983, 2000) and 15 conference championships.
Malham plans to retire after this – his 38th – season.
“My wife is ready for me to spend time with her,” Malham said. “I’m ready to do something else. Football has been my entire life for 65 years. I feel like a senior fixing to graduate and see what comes.”
Malham began his college career at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro playing tight end in 1972, but was later moved to linebacker for the 1973, 1974 and 1975 seasons. Malham is the fourth leading tackler in ASU’s football history and a two-time All-Southland linebacker. Malham was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 17th round in 1976.
On the brink of retirement, Malham shared his secret track workout that keeps his players conditioned throughout the season.
40-Minute Track Workout
“We do these for quick feet,” Malham said. “They want to get used to their feet moving quickly before we get onto the track.”
6 x 200-Meter Sprints.
Running backs and defensive backs must finish around 30 seconds. Other slower positions (linebackers, quarterbacks) must finish in 35 seconds. Offensive and defensive linemen must finish in 40 seconds. Each player is given 3 minutes of recovery time between repeats. “That’s a pretty good workout,” Malham said.
This is more of a jog to ensure players can still move at a decent pace when tired. Running backs get four minutes to complete the 400. Linemen get 5 ½ minutes. “I’ll give them a couple of minutes and have them run this when they’re still tired.”
Malham’s Weight Program
Malham’s weight program has four core lifts and a series of auxiliary exercises. The bulk of the strengthening phase of the program takes place between January and May. In-season weight training is meant to help players maintain that strength while staying fresh for the games.
“I have the kids come in twice a week for weights,” Malham said. “I want them to stay in shape, try not to lose anything. I don’t keep them for too long – maybe 40 minutes in the weight room.”
The four core lifts are the bench press, squat, power clean and incline. Auxiliary exercises might include bicep curls, triceps extensions, core strengthening and/or pull-ups.
“When I first got the job, I cut the grass and fertilized the field, and I’d leave the weight room open for the kids,” Malham said. “We’ve had turf since 2005, so now I don’t do anything there. We do strength and conditioning three days before putting the pads on. That makes a difference.”