TRAINING

Podcast alert! The Man Behind the ‘Feed the Cats’ Philosophy: Tony Holler

FNF Coaches Report

More and more football coaches are taking their cues from a high school track coach in Plainfield, Ill. 

Tony Holler invented a revolutionary new method of training sprinters at Plainfield North High (Ill.) called “Feed the Cats.” It’s a minimalist approach to training which discourages putting sprinters through long workouts that make them feel crushed by the end.

“Football coaches want to take football players past failure because they think it helps their teams in the fourth quarter,” Holler said. “If you value high performance, the fourth quarter might not even matter because the game is already over. The reason teams lose in the fourth quarter is fumbled snaps, turnovers, dropped balls. That stems from overworking kids during practice and them being tired.”

The “Feed the Cats” training method teaches sprinters to run fast using micro-segments of work. Holler also coached high school football for more than 25 years, although never as a head coach.

“Most football coaches have to join conventional thought to move up the ladder, and I’ve never done that very well,” Holler said.

Listen to Coach Holler on the FNF Coaches Podcast.

10 Commandments of “Feed the Cats”

In order to adhere completely to the “Feed the Cats” program, Coach Holler states that you must follow its 10 essential commandments, which include:

  • Do high-quality work with maximum focus over the least amount of time possible.
  • Prioritize rest, recovery, and growth; never underestimate the power of being happy and healthy.
  • Never forget – people naturally are good at what they like and are OBSESSED with what they love.
  • Promote your program with unrestrained enthusiasm.
  • “Record, Rank, and Publish” to feed the competitive nature of your fast-twitch athletes.
  • Never force-feed.
  • Never grind.
  • Never crush the physical or emotional soul of your athletes.
  • Never inflict physical punishment – punish only by taking away the opportunity to do the work.
  • Never forget, “Light a fire, don’t fill a pail.”

What Is Micro-Dose Training?

Coach Holler explains how training in micro-dose amounts is the best way for athletes to get faster. All speed coaches must make max-speed a priority, and the goal of micro-dose training is specifically to train with a minimum effective dose.

Sprinting fast is the foundation behind the athlete. The faster the top-end speed, the faster the sub-max speed. Remember: to run fast, the athlete must train fast!

Points of Emphasis

Coach Holler states that if you want to increase speed, you must emphasize sprint mechanics, max-speed sprinting, and jumping. Holler offers more than 30 drills that he uses to focus on stiffness, posture, and balance. The end result is better stabilization of the body, which causes stiffness and therefore faster speed.

Holler emphasizes that drills have to have a positive effect on speed without burning out the athlete. You’ll see how to workout without sprinting maximally every day, giving your athletes the option to prioritize rest, which will keep them fresh throughout the 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