Peak Conditioning = Elite Performance
Recently I have heard some of my athletes tell me that their HS strength and conditioning coaches barely ran them over the summer months. I was a little startled because the summer months are the key period when these athletes build the foundation that will catapult them into the season. If you can’t run on the football field, you probably won’t have a successful season. Instead of having the guys run, they had them concentrating on weight training and making sure that they didn’t push themselves to failure. If they did, they were told to lessen the weight. If you have ever been on a successful football team, the pillar of success was based off of pushing yourself to the max because you always wanted to be the best conditioned team on the field.
This weekend I saw exactly how our summer workouts paid off against cross town rival Liberty High School. Being an alumni of Liberty, it was bitter sweet because I have always loved seeing the team have success. It is also tough because every year, I work with some of the top athletes on their team. I have worked with the Bethlehem Catholic football team the past five years and have seen first hand how our summer program has helped them compete at a high level. During this period they have made the playoffs four times and have won two District XI Championships. This year we are off to a 4-1 start and are looking to build off our momentum as we move into the second half of the season.
If anyone knows my program they know that it is based off of sound strength and conditioning principals coupled with sports specific speed and agility training. If we can’t transfer what we are doing in the gym to the field/court, we aren’t doing it. Strength and power output are vital in power sports such as football. If you don’t have the physical size and strength relative to your position, it will be tough to withstand the rigorous physical stresses you will encounter throughout the season. Along with this, you need the stamina to repeat pass patterns, pass sets, and finish runs consistently without losing speed and quickness. This is why our workouts are so intense and vigorous. If you have ever been in our facility during the summer months you know it isn’t for the weak minded.
We structure 8 week programs over the summer months that incrementally increase in intensity. Our goal is to help our athletes mentally and physically prepare for the rigorous demands of a 16 week season. Many coaches want their athletes to train at a percentage of their maximum and teach their athletes to hold back. Often, these coaches tell them it’s for safety reasons. Our philosophy is contrary to this. We teach our guys that the only easy day was yesterday. Even though we may not have the same training loads every session, the mind set is always maximum intensity. If you train athletes to take it easy or let up, you are increasing their risk of injury as well as setting them up for failure. The game is won in the 4th quarter and we train for the championships. Anything less is unacceptable and this has been our recipe for success since I began my program in 2001. Below are a few pillars of my program that have helped our teams win 5 Sectional State Championships in football, multiple individual state champions in individual sports, and countless state, region, and league players of the year in multiple sports.
- Progressive Overload– The athlete needs to be pushed daily and the way you push your athlete is constantly changing depending on the training cycle. Even though the reps, sets, and load may vary throughout this period, the intensity level is always high. If you train athletes to hold back you can’t expect them to dig deep when their back are against the wall during competition.
- Run, run, and run some more– We incorporate speed and agility in every workout. If you are involved in a sport that requires you to run and change direction, you should do it everyday. Unless you are a power lifter or Olympic lifter, why wouldn’t you? You aren’t doing squats and bench presses during a football game so if that is your main focus of only increasing your strength, maybe you should change sports.
- Hand Eye Coordination– If you can’t catch or handle a ball, you can’t score any points. Hand eye coordination is integral to most sports and the better you are at catching, the likelihood of you being on the field is increased. I would rather have a wide receiver who has unbelievable hands than can bench or squat a house. This is also important for athletes who don’t catch a ball. Hand placement is vital for lineman and wrestlers. If you have great hand quickness and can target specific areas on your opponent, you will be able to better utilize the strength you built throughout the off-season.
- Mental Toughness– If you are ever around me during a workout, you know that I am constantly giving my athletes mental anchors for them to hang onto. Giving them feedback regarding situations that we are training for. We are never doing exercises just to do them. We only do what’s necessary and do it at a high level. I expect my athletes to execute in their sport at a high level consistently and that’s what I expect on every rep, set, sprint, or catch during our workouts.
These are some of the areas that are critical for the success of my program. I don’t take my training lightly because I know what my athletes and teams are sacrificing weekly. If they don’t have a strong foundation, I can’t expect them to stand on the podium come championship season. You can checkout some clips of our summer workouts at Bethlehem Catholic and see some of the sport specific movements and conditioning methods we utilize. To get your team or child involved in our program, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.