We asked these 10 coaches to share their favorite drill.

 

Every coach has an offseason strength and conditioning drill that he feels will give him a sense of his team’s respective fitness level. We asked these 10 coaches to share their favorite drill.

Craig Koehler, Concord High (Ind.)

OVERHEAD SQUATS

“My big thing is overhead squats as a functional test. Can they keep their spine stiff? Can they hinge their hip behind their heels with their heels on the ground? Can they maintain good core posture? It’s a red flag if they can’t keep the bar above their traps with their elbows locked.”

Brian Ortiz, Holy Cross (Texas)

BACK SQUATS

“The back squat is the biggest for us. We squat 4 x 5 reps for warmup. The fourth set is close to 80 percent of their max. The main set is 3 x 5 reps. I won’t let you move until you do all 15 reps, even if you have to take weight off.”

JD Williams, Katy (Texas)

SHUTTLE RUN

“It’s the old shuttle run with five cones shaped like an ‘X’. We test that and find out about their strength and quickness. Everyone does the 40 now, but we do the five-cone shuttle. We’ll test in March before spring football, at the end of April, and then we’ll get a benchmark at the end of the summer.”

Hal Wasson, Southlake Carroll (Texas)

3 x 200 METERS

“We test in 200s and then separate them in groups according to speed. Every kid has to make a specific time. We do 3 x 200s on a specific time, and we never leave that phase of the offseason until 100 percent of the kids pass. It might last seven days or it could last 21 days.”

Dan Pippin, Greenwood (S.C.)

QUARTER-MILES

“It takes a mental toughness that translates to practices and games. I think maybe the only track event harder than the 400 is the 800 – one of those two. I want my guys to believe they’re in the best shape of anybody in the Southeast. Is that a true statement? I can’t tell you, but my guys believe it.”

Scott Meyer, Servite (Calif.)

PLYOMETRICS

“We have a lot of guys playing multiple sports, so we like to focus on strength and speed. Plyometric exercises work the upper body, lower body and core. We also do the power cleans, dead lifts, squats and other heavy exercises. But for my money, I like to see how they respond to plyometric exercises in the offseason.”

Garrett Gray, Mission Viejo (Calif.)

SHOULDER EXERCISES

“We had a really bad rash of shoulder injuries. We decided we needed to strengthen all shoulder capsules. All of the kids are on a rotator cuff program. Some kids might have tight hips, and they’ll have yoga. Or we might try to strengthen weak wrists and elbows for a particular player.”

James Eidson, San Pasqual (Calif.)

THE FROG BY FROG FITNESS, INC.

“One thing I’ve definitely seen is that kids today have a large amount of hip issues. When you put them on a horizontal plane and ask them to push back with their legs, you can see which hip has the issue. In the old days, you’d make them squat and try to teach them form. This is a game-changer.”

Caleb Ross, McGill-Toolen (Ala.)

MEDICINE BALL RELAYS

“We built weight lifting into our culture when I got here three years ago. We did tire flips and medicine ball relays to create as much competition as possible. We changed the entire offseason workout program. We had to get them to believe they could be winners again, so we encouraged competition every day.”

Joe Willis, Colleyville Heritage (Texas)

Hurdles

“We want to see our players run with strength. Flexibility is very much overlooked. Between football and track, you can build a football player to avoid injuries. If you’re a skill player who carries the ball, go work on hurdles every day. There’s a tie between flexibility and speed. We want our guys to get out and sprint.”

About the author

Dan Guttenplan