The game of football is a highly technical team sport that places stressful demands on the body. The hard, repetitive, change of direction combined with different sized bodies colliding demands immense physical preparation. Football is the one sport where ‘lifting weights’ is synonymous with getting better. The idea is if you play football you must also lift weights in pursuit to become bigger, stronger, and faster.
The most unique aspect to playing football in high school, that everyone misses, if the fact you only have one seasonal opportunity to play. August to late October or early November is football season. Baseball and softball have spring and fall seasons. Soccer goes year round. Basketball has high school season and travel AAU. The list goes on.
If you’re going to get looked at to play football, you have your high school season – that’s it. All other sports rely on performance of club or travel teams. Volleyball players get offers because of club play. For baseball it’s travel team showcases. Same with softball. If your high school is lucky enough to have ice hokey or lacrosse that’s great but opportunities come from club play.
Football provides a very limited time to enhance your technical abilities. You have two weeks of summer team camp and practices during the season. Add in maybe a two day college camp during the summer. So how do you get better?
Since there’s so much emphasis placed on the physical side of football, we have to make sure we’re getting it right. What we’re going to do is put the nuts and bolts of science and practical application into action. It’s our jobs to connect what we know increases performance and make it happen for your athletes.
We’ll get him into an athletic position. We’ll explain how to ‘push the turf away’ when running. We’ll show proper arm drive for the quickest acceleration. We’ll coach exercises to make his body powerful and explosive. We’ll teach ‘ribcage down’ for optimal core tension and strength. We’ll put him in positions to challenge balance. And, we’ll boost his confidence, keep him interested, keep him FOCUS(ed).
THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT, RIGHT?
Coaches, parents, and athletes want their players to be faster, more athletic, explosive, stronger, confident. They want to see a player with great running form who makes it look easy. Quarterbacks throwing ropes and linebackers making hits. Offensive and defensive lineman coming off the ball burying the guy across the line. Running backs who can be caught and defensive backs who can catch them.
Every athlete staying healthy not just to play, but to play a role in the team’s success. Having positions two or three deep with kids who can contribute.
What it all boils down to is providing athletes the opportunity to be their best, be successful, and have a ton of fun along the way.
There’s a lot to offering a comprehensive Player Development Program. Work you way down the page. Think, question, and learn.
WHY A PLAYER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM?
There is no shortage of ‘speed & agility classes’ or sport specific branded programs for ‘faster 40’s’. You also have add in the school’s program. What it accomplishes and where it misses.
Five years ago I had to explain what performance training entails with the goal of justifying the need to parents and coaches. Some would listen, some wouldn’t, yet others already had it all figured out.
Today it’s different. Parents, sport & skill coaches know off-field training works. The hard part now is sifting through the business hype promoting similar services.
If training for sport is a 100 chapter book, where chapter 1 is the first day you step on the field, and chapter 100 is a full collegiate scholarship, chapter 60 is sets, reps, exercises, etc. Chapter 60 is where most sports organizations want to start performance training and believe that’s where it fits.
We don’t. We start at chapter 1 because it’s the beginning chapters that make the difference.
A Player Development Program is much more than throwing down an agility ladder and running through cones. It’s more than just getting bigger and stronger. It’s goes beyond your coach telling you to work hard, hit the weights, and run faster. A developmental program assess your current skill level on a technical and tactical level, uncovers physical strengths and areas of improvements, and paints the complete picture. The difference is the ability to question why or why not, find an answer, and establish a workable plan.
THE COMMON PROTOCOL:
Parent calls FOCUS.
“We’re looking for some speed and agility training for my son. He plays linebacker and running back. He’ll be in 10th grade next year and needs to put on some size and get faster if he’s going to play. His coach told him he wants to see him put on 20 pounds by next season. I don’t even know it that’s possible. He’s a great player and really wants this so we’re trying to provide every opportunity we can. What exercises should he be doing? Are the things he’s doing at school right? Safe?”
It’s left to me to assess the player in our facility, using our methods, to find the athlete’s current strengths and areas of improvement. This is a great start and prime scenario for this athlete to sign up for our base Strength, Speed, and Conditioning Program (which is awesome in it’s own right).
But, I don’t know exactly where our main focus should be placed to enhance his on-field play. He’ll undoubtably get better, but are we maximizing the opportunity?
THE PLAYER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM DIFFERENCE:
Parent calls FOCUS.
“We’re looking for some speed and agility training for my son. He plays linebacker and running back. He’ll be in 10th grade next year and needs to put on some size and get faster if he’s going to play. His coach told him he wants to see him put on 20 pounds by next season. I don’t even know it that’s possible. He’s a great player and really wants this so we’re trying to provide every opportunity we can. Here’s the name and contact number of his coach. Coach (X) is pretty approachable but I don’t want him upset we are looking for help in addition to his program at the school. He knows you’ll be calling and sounds open to speaking with you.. plus we’re curious to see how this works.”
I call or visit the coaches and go to work. Ask tons of questions and listen. Take notes. I take great attention and detail not to step on the coach’s toes and suggest his program is ‘wrong’. I explain we’re on the same team and I’m simply looking to supplement what he does at the school. Through our detailed athlete profiling process the coaches are able to communicate exactly what we’re dealing with.
“He’s a great player with a ton of heart. I’ve known this kid since junior high. If he wants start next season at outside linebacker he needs to get bigger and stronger. We need the weight so he can meet fullbacks head on at the point of contact. He’s a pretty solid tackler but would be awesome with more strength. I like his speed but faster would be better. He’s got a couple guys fighting for the same spot so we’ll have to see. We concentrate on the basic lifts and speed drills but nothing as detailed as what you do… I have 40 guys in the weight room at the same time so we have to keep it general. I don’t want him missing our workouts but if you think you can help him specifically then I’ll all for it.”
Now, combine all the information from the coach with our methods for assessing performance, plus identifying and ranking his talent.
Which approach do you think is gonna have more impact?
Vague generalized statements never get to the heart of the underlying need, especially when coming from independent sources. The athlete needs to get faster, but what about stronger? How do you know? How is it being assessed and measured? What would happen if the athlete gets stronger? Then what? What can we expect with the added speed? How do we go about not only getting stronger, but stronger in ways that directly transfers to the area of weakness?
Training programs need to be specific to the athlete. Stage of maturity, experience, age, mental ability, and the all important drive to get better has to be factored.
A THREE PART PROCESS. THE PROOF.
None of this works without proof. Proof beyond words and opinions. Our Player Development Program is a three part process comprised of Talent Identification, Talent Management, and Player Placement. The underlying key for success is Total Program Integration.