Creating an offseason competition to inspire players to compete amongst themselves – and past players in the program – is the best way to get rewards out of a strength and conditioning program.
In his 10 years at Northside High (Ga.), Kevin Kinsler has led the team to an overall record of 96-19, four region championships, and one state championship. He credits the program’s success in large part to an offseason strength and conditioning competition, which provides players with a competitive environment and support from fans. The competition was started by former Northside coaching legend Conrad Nix and continued by Kinsler over the last decade.
Here is the basis of the Ironman Competition.
The Events: Players compete in nine events during Ironman Week, which takes place before the start of fall practice. The events include bench press (max), bench press (endurance), cleans, squats, shuttle runs, mile, pile press, 10-yard dash, and 40-yard dash.
“We finish on a Thursday with a mile run,” Kinsler said. “We get the entire team together and map out a course around the school. That’s the only event of the day, and it’s usually a big deal around here. It’s fun to watch 100-something football players race a mile.”
The Teams: Players are split into position groups to compete against players of similar size, strength and speed. Champions of each position group are recognized at the end of the week. There’s also an overall champion.
“This year, we had a linebacker,” Kinsler said. “We’ve had a lot of linebackers over the years. We’ve had a lineman before.”
How It’s Scored: A player receives points for each pound he lifts, and the coaches keep a running total of the score. The results are posted on an Ironman Board, which also shows records from previous seasons.
“It’s a combination of strength and speed,” Kinsler said. “Whether you’re big or small, you can still score points for every lift and keep track.”
The Ironman Legacy
As much as players thrive on competing against each other, they also love competing against some of the greats in program history.
Northside posts Ironman results dating back 12 to 15 years, so players can see how they measure up against the best.
“The kids want to see their names up on the board for the whole year,” Kinsler said. “Each year, we change the names. Guys are trying to beat the record. It has become a big deal.”
Northside had 17 consecutive seasons with 10 or more wins from 1998-2014. The team also won back-to-back state championships in 2006 and 2007.
“Those are the teams that still have some records on the board,” Kinsler said. “These guys broke some of them recently. It’s a pretty good measure of how we stack up against the teams from the past.”