FNF Coaches Talk — How to Write a Strength Program, USA Football Partners with TackleBar, Concussion Data

Let’s get right to it. We’ve got a few stories for you!

1. How to Write a Strength and Conditioning Program (Stack)

Stack just published this article yesterday, and it falls in line with our theme for the March edition of FNF Coaches — strength and conditioning.

Writing and implementing training programs is a big piece of what high school coaches do at this time of year. Whether it’s your first attempt or 25th year of programming training plans, taking a systematic approach is of the utmost importance.

The first piece of advice might be the most helpful. Don’t be afraid to borrow and steal from other coaches.

Look for well-established coaches in the industry who are already working with the sport you are attempting to plan for and see what advice they can offer. The overarching themes of most strength and conditioning programs remain constant, but the subtle nuances are carefully curated by coaches over years of dedicated practice and knowledge.

The next piece of advice is equally important at this time of year, when you might be inviting eighth-graders or middle schoolers into your weight room. Do not treat all athletes the same. Account for each player’s experience level and injury history.

Have athletes fill out a health history questionnaire before the first day of training so you can adapt programming prior and work around any glaring issues. If you have front squats programmed for your first day of training but an athlete with a reconstructed ACL one month prior, you must adapt.

What is the best advice you’d offer someone trying to write a strength and conditioning program?

2. USA Football’s player development model adds TackleBar tool (Charlotte Observer)

USA Football is introducing another tool as part of its road map for how the sport is played, coached and taught on the youth level: TackleBar football.

As part of USA Football’s “Football Development Model” launched last year, TackleBar is included within the model’s “limited contact” category, serving as a teaching tool and stepping stone between flag football and the full tackle game. USA Football’s model offers multiple entry points and options to play the sport across three categories: non-contact, limited contact and contact.

Players using the TackleBar tool wear a harness with two bars in the back, one on each side. When a defender attempts a tackle, he or she will be able to employ the basics of tackling — head up and out of the way while wrapping up — with limited contact. Players learn to refine their technique without tackling a player to the ground. Instead, one of the bars is pulled from the opponent’s harness, ending the play.

TackleBar has been on the market since 2017 and the harness costs $55; there are shoulder pads also available. Pilot programs beginning in 2016 were a success, and now USA Football, the governing body for the sport, is adopting TackleBar for the FDM.

“This is one aspect, although an exciting one, of our Football Development Model,” says USA Football Executive Director and CEO Scott Hallenbeck. “It starts with certified coaches teaching young players in a way that’s fun and matches their age and ability. TackleBar is an effective tool to learn form tackling and fundamentals with limited contact. It’s a smart way to build skills and experience the sport.”

What practice tools are you using to help your players tackle in a safe way?

3. Windpact Provides Educational Resources on Concussions (Windpact)

We’re all becoming more familiar with the risks of head injuries in football, and Windpact is working to get the word out through its gathering of technology and material data.

We know purchasing safe equipment like helmets and mouthguards can help minimize concussions, but even more important, we’re finding that minimizing contact in practice and teaching proper tackling and blocking technique can make the game safer.

Windpact sent over this graphic and info for us to share. It certainly got our attention.


Graphic provided by https://windpact.com/.

Take two professional-level football players. In this example, we have New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, who weighs 234 lbs, running at 21.76 mph towards Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick who weighs 207 lbs and is running at 21.48 mph.
When these two athletes collide, their combined impact energy is nearly identical to a 40 lbs cinder block falling from the top of Notre Dame in Paris (226 ft in the air). This is due to how energy is calculated in terms of mass and velocity; no matter who or what is colliding, if the factors underlying the resulting energy transference are similar, then the forces at play in both scenarios are mathematically comparable.

Mitigating the risks of concussions in sports is a tremendous challenge. No helmet can completely prevent a head injury. But it is encouraging to know that the greatest leagues, promoters, researchers, sponsors, the media, professional teams, and everyone involved in the sports industry are actively working to make our favorite sports safer.

Windpact is dedicated to educating and enabling the sports industry with technology and research to make sports safer.

What have you done to limit the amount of blows to the head your players encounter over the course of a season?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk