High school football coaches across the country know that the last day of the school year signifies the beginning of the summer football camp season. From the months of June to August, head coaches must figure out how to install their entire offense, defense, and special teams.
Often times, the last aspect to receive attention is the teams’ strength and conditioning program. When hours and minutes are at a premium, it can be difficult to dedicate major percentages of practice time to the weight room. Here are some simple planning tips to maximize your time in the weight room during offseason football workouts:
Have a Plan and Stick to It
As football coaches, we meticulously plan every segment of our practices down to the minute. It’s essential to create a summer strength and conditioning calendar. Decide how much time you can devote and then create your program to work within that time frame. Remember that quantity is not quality; pick the exercises that will benefit your athletes the most.
Give Each a Coach a Role
Don’t let football strength and conditioning sessions be viewed as “break time” for the assistant coaches. In order to maximize your minutes, it is vital to give each coach a role in the lifting session. This will reduce transition time and ensure higher quality and accountability with your athletes. Do your best to place your assistants in areas of strength and keep it consistent—let them become experts in that role.
Have Equipment and Exercises Set Up and Ready for Use
Exercise transition time, setting up weights, and wasted time in between sets can drain a lifting session. Take the time to set up early so there is little time wasted in transition: racks and dumbbells in order and ready, and station exercises set up with proper equipment.
Keep Exercises Consistent
It’s human nature to lean toward keeping strength sessions fresh by changing the exercises often. However, for every new exercise you install, there will be time wasted on teaching the technique. Keep your exercises consistent so that your athletes become familiar with them. Things will run smooth and your athletes will build confidence as they become more proficient in the exercise.
Develop Sequencing and Tempo
Sequencing is very similar to station work in that you can take a large group of athletes through a circuit of timed exercises. By keeping your exercises on a stopwatch, you can ensure short transition times, accurate time management, and create a high tempo climate. Strive to instill a high energy, no-nonsense atmosphere in the weight room, but take the time to recognize great sessions. Applaud your players’ efforts when they have “won” a session.
Create an Individual Profile for Each Athlete
Even if you don’t have a specialized strength and conditioning coach, it’s important to keep track of your athletes’ progress. Create individual profiles on each player so that you can monitor their lifting numbers. Have suggested weight amounts on their individualized card. By monitoring your athlete’s numbers you create a level of accountability for each athlete they must adhere to.
Robert Pomazak, MS, PES, SES, is an NASM-certified performance enhancement and speed specialist. He currently serves as strength and conditioning coordinator at Elk Grove High School (Elk Grove Village, Ill.), where he has taught physical education and coached varsity football and baseball for the past 10 years. Pomazak focuses on sport-specific program development and performance training for high school athletes.