I had a group of high school football guys who were coming to me from February through May. They made great progress; they got stronger, faster, more explosive, their running mechanics improved, their special conditioning improved and they became all-around better athletes. Then, they had to be at organized team workouts and practices for two months and everything we had done became undone…and I’m trying to be polite by saying it that way. They heaped volume on my masterpieces in the weightroom and paid no attention to technique. They mindlessly programmed sprint training – using drills that reinforced improper mechanics, they made my guys go on cross country runs…they unmade my hard work. Thankfully, California high school football teams are required to take three consecutive weeks off during the summer from team organized practices. This gives me three weeks to fix what these coaches broke.
Three weeks isn’t a long time to improve an athlete’s strength, power and alactic aerobic work capacity, but it’s what I have to work with and this is how I’m planning on doing it. I have these guys four days per week for the next three weeks. They’re going to be juniors or seniors this fall, all of them are wide receivers, running backs and linebackers.
Our split will look like this….
- MB Throws
- Max Effort Upper Body
- Accessory Upper Body
- Positional Speed Work
- Max Effort Lower Body
- MB Throws
- Rep Effort Upper Body
- Accessory Upper Body
- Positional Speed Work
- Accessory Lower Body
During the next three weeks I have three areas in which I really hope to improve these athletes. Here are those areas and a look at the means which I plan on going about this…
Short Area Explosive Power
This is a pretty broad goal, but a very important one nonetheless. These guys must be able to deliver a powerful punch, jam receivers, get off of blocks, get off the line and push the pile. They need explosive upper bodies, lower bodies and to be able to coordinate those efforts. To achieve this we are going to…
Throw Medicine Balls
For skill guys I like to use the half squat throw and hop to throw. There isn’t a lot of magic to the volume here because of the short time frame we’re dealing with.
- Week one – 10 of each type.
- Week two – 15 of each type.
- Week three – 20 of each type.
These guys are going to jump two days per week. One day will be reserved for weighted jumping and the other for unweighted. Since we don’t have a recent box jump max recorded for them, I’m going to conservatively estimate their current one rep max and work my percents off of that.
- Week one – 20 jumps at 75 percent.
- Week two – 15 jumps at 85 percent.
- Week three – 10 jumps at 95 percent.
On their weighted jumping day, they’ll do jumps with both a weight vest and while holding dumbbells. Their weighted jumping will also be done onto foam because it will force them to develop more coordination in their landing and be easier on their joints.
After their high school coaches wrecked my last four months of work with an array of butt kickers and mile runs, I now have a group of athletes who don’t know how to drive their knees and have terrible backside mechanics. This is going to be remedied by a few things…
Wall sprints are a great drill to teach knee drive, proper body angles and also serve as a good way to light up the CNS before the meat of the training session. Add a couple of these to the end of your dynamic warmup and many mechanical errors will disappear.
You can’t back-kick and run fast with the sled, it is its own teacher. Athletes will begin their speed training for the day with a few sled sprints to reinforce their knee drive and acceleration angles. The weight on the sled will decrease from week to week.
I not only want to make sure that these athletes improve, or remember, proper running mechanics, I also want to make sure that they can accelerate and run out of real football positions. Running out of a two or three-point stance, push-up start, mountain climber, etc is all well and good for teaching purposes, but football players have to get releases off the line, make moves, get off of jams, etc. So, we’ll devote the majority of their sprint volume to sprints from their position. If you’re dealing with the training of a slot receiver, make him come off the line 3-5 yards, make a move and then perform his 10-20 yard sprint.
Specific Energy System Conditioning
Since their high school coaches have been ruining their alactic aerobic capacity with mile plus runs, 300 yard shuttles and improperly planned rest periods, I’ve been faced with the task of improving their special work capacity in only three weeks and there’s one tool over any other that’s going to help me accomplish this…The Prowler.
The simplest and most effective way that we’ll use the Prowler to develop their specific endurance is performing lightly weighted sprints with a jog between reps. They’ll perform sets of six to eight sprints of 20 yards, usually with 70 pounds loaded on the Prowler, and then jog back to the starting point while another athlete performs their rep, their rest periods are approximately 30 seconds, including the jog. We do this to simulate them jogging back to the huddle in between plays. We will work from performing two sets of six sprints, to three sets of eight in this fashion. They take three to five minutes of active rest between sets, during which they’ll perform neck harnesses or abdominal work.
Your athletes have only a short time before their seasons begin, prioritize what they need to work on, make it specific to the demands of their position and focus on quality of work over quantity and you’ll see great results.