Fitness

Running Effective Football Practices

Football season is here!  Summer has been filled with hard work, sweat and hours of scheming for offensive and defensive installations.  However, how much thought has been put into establishing effective and efficient practices?  I am a firm believer in the fact that games are won and lost Monday through Thursday!  These are the days in which we prepare our teams for the coming game.  Practice too short or waste time in practice, you will be unprepared.  Spend too long at practice and you risk being burnt out by Friday or negatively effecting moral.  It really is an art, to run a proper football practice.  The purpose of this article is to shed some light on this and provide a guide for running a “good” practice.  While I do not claim to have the perfect system here, it has proven to be effective for me and the teams that I have coached for.

SAFETY

Let’s start with the obvious and get it out of the way now.  Football, when played well, is an aggressive contact-filled game.  Because of the nature of the game there are possibilities for injuries.  Such injuries, and in particular injuries of a serious nature, can be minimized by playing with the rules, wearing proper equipment, and using the proper techniques for your position as taught by your position coach.

Special attention should be paid to the proper head, neck and body position when blocking and tackling.  The use of the head as a weapon in blocking and tackling is not only against the rules, but spearing techniques can be the cause of serious injury to yourself or your opponent.  A well-conditioned football player, using correct techniques, with his body in the correct heads-up, bull-necked football position, greatly reduces his chances of injury. In fact, FOOTBALL IS SAFER TODAY THAN IT EVER HAS BEEN IN THE HISTORY OF THE SPORT!

BASIC PRACTICE GUIDE LINES

  • Pay strict attention to time segments.
  • All segments are important, treat them as such.
  • Breed confidence and success into your team.
  • Gain respect from your players, do not demand it. You must earn it.
  • If you get tired pray for strength, because you should practice at a high tempo and you must have the same energy you ask your players to have.

You should also be very selective in the drills in which you select for your players to do.  All of your drills should do the following:

  • Cover considerable ground in a short amount of time.
  • Be well planned and administered.
  • Be known by name to the players so that they do not require re-explanation after they have been run two or three times.

Do not make drills too elaborate.  Keep them short, snappy, crisp and positive.  The coach running the drills should see to it that they are prepared in ADVANCED.  This should include any teaching aids such as balls, bags, cones and etcetera.  When establishing your football drills you need to choose from the following four types of drills:

  1. Fundamental Drills – these are to teach all the skills of tackling, blocking, stance, etc.
  2. Reaction Drills – primarily for developing quickness, balance, and agility.  These should be included briefly in almost every practice.
  3. Toughening Drills – the primary purpose here is to develop and encourage the desire and ability to utilize the physical contact aspect of the game of football.   These drills should be used only to the extent so as not to dull the desire for further contact.
  4. Fun Drills – used to lighten the practice load late in the season or as a morale booster.

Do all these things, and your practices will set your players up for success on and off the field.  As I said earlier, it is my belief that many teams lose the game on Mondays through Thursdays because they do not know how to properly practice and prepare.

THE OBJECTIVE OF PRACTICE

  1. Mental Toughness – this can be developed and is expected.
    1. Learn to deal with pain and to never except defeat. Do all the little things right all the time.
    2. Defeat all negative thoughts. “When your body says no – your heart says go!”
  2. Physical Strength and Quickness
    1. Weight Room – Benefits are well known, this is where championships are won, and champions lift IN season!
    2. Agility, Adaptability and Flexibility.
  3. Intensity – Must teach the 150% attitude
    1. Everything is done with a high level of enthusiasm and competitiveness – Push each other.
    2. Never be satisfied.
    3. All-out effort – All the time – 150% effort every minute accept nothing less.
    4. Expect more from yourself as coaches and players.
  4. Unity – Only as good as the last coach or last player with the merit role in the program.
    1. Always talk “Us” and “We”, not “I” and “Me”. Make being on the team the greatest experience of their lives.
    2. Hard work together equals Unity of Team. Encourage each other to work harder – the harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.
  5. The Difference between Them and Us.
    1. We do work harder, 150% effort all the time – Outwork the 110% opponent.
    2. Discipline – must live with it, must expect it, must do right 150% of the time.
    3. If a 150% effort equals hard work, then we can accomplish it.
    4. As a team we will sweat the small stuff. The little things we do will make us Champions.
    5. Our Success – Our Attitude – Our Work Habits are things we can control, choose to be in control of our destiny. Never allow our opponent to dictate our destiny.

CONDITIONING

A note on conditioning. It is my personal belief that drills done for the sole purpose of condition are largely, a huge waste of time.  To me, if you have to do drills just for the purpose of conditioning your players, it means you are NOT practicing hard enough.  Let me say this now, YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO PRACTICE INTO SHAPE!

Your practices need to be run at a high tempo.  Once your players are familiar with your drills, they should be rapid fire and you need to coach on the fly.  Save the slowed down teaching for pre and post practice, or in those situations in which immediate correction is non-negotiable.  When it comes to conditioning, there are certain drills that will allow you to do this AND have your players get meaningful reps at the same time!  Here are some such drills:

Edge Period– This will be the starting offense minus the wide outs against the starting defense minus the secondary.  The offense will choose one formation and attack the edge to the left and then to the right as fast as possible with the same play over and over.  This conditions both sides of the ball, and forces the players to communicate with each other quickly under pressure.  Yes the defense will know the play and inevitably start cheating…. It will make you tougher, get over it.  The ball carriers will be on a quick whistle, no tackling to the ground.  Do this drill on Mondays.

Inside Run– Everybody knows what inside run is.  Increase the tempo, tackle to the ground, get after it!  Do this drill on Tuesdays.  “Tuesday is Bruise Day!”

Man Drill– This drill is where the wide outs and defensive backs can go during edge period and inside run.  They will work on man coverage.  This needs to be high tempo.  No ball needs to be thrown here.  Work four wide receivers at a time against four defensive backs.  They will work normal routs for three to four second goes.  If the wide out gets separation, then he wins.  If the defensive back stays manned up, then he wins.  Work about ten reps in a row before switching.  Communicate the routes with the wide outs in the fastest manner your system has, I find the best is to have all the wide outs run the same route.

Pursuit Drill– Ah, pursuit drill.  The most overly complicated drill in existence.  No other drill seems to have so many complicated ass ways of doing it.  It’s really not necessary.  Here is a highly effective pursuit drill that is also super simple.  I call it “Fire Ant” because you want your defense swarming the football like a bunch of fire ants.  Here is out it works:  you will have six cones, three on each side line.  One on the goal line, one on the ten, and one on the twenty on each side of the field.  The defense will be on the goal line in the middle of the field.  A coach will snap a ball as a faux center and the defense will step to their run fits or pass drops based off the second defensive coach’s action and start chopping their feet.  The second defensive coach will then point to a sideline and yell out the number one, two or three.  The defense will then turn sprint to that cone, break it down on that cone as a unit, and then run back and get set for the next rep.   Repeat as much desired before switching to next group.  Simple stuff.  Do this drill daily.  Put them on a timer to get there and back and set by!

Screens and PA Period– This drill is an offensive drill done while the defense does pursuit drill.  The starting offense will be on the ball on the thirty yard line going in and the entire back up core will be lined up about ten yards behind them.  The OC will call a screen or a play action pass.  (have bags set up for land marks for your screens)  The offense will then execute the call and every single person, starters and backups will sprint to the goal line and back once the ball has been caught.  On screens make sure the OL and other blockers run to the land mark before running to the goal line.  Do this drill daily.

PRACTICE SCHEDULE (with explanations)

Let’s assume that you start practice at 3:00 PM for the following example of a practice schedule:

2:45 – Pre Practice: This is where install should be as well as stance work or lineman, ball security, extra snaps, chute work, technique teachings and etcetera. 

3:00 – Team Stretch: Another thing that people tend to really over complicate.  It shouldn’t be a production.  If it takes you more than ten minutes, you’re doing it wrong.  They should be loosened up from pre practice anyways.

3:05 – Special Teams: Work Punt and PAT first at same time, every day!  Every day means every day!

3:20 – Individual Period: Get after it.  Use a high tempo

3:40 – Skelly: Ten minutes for both offense and defense

4:00 – Edge Period:  As described earlier in article.   Tuesday will be inside run. Wednesday blitz pick up.

4:10- Team D

4:30 – Team O

4:50 – SPP: Screens, PA, Pursuit

5:00 – DONE

NOTE:  If you can, have a trainer with a blow horn, use the horn to mark the start of every new period based on the schedule above.  This will help keep all groups on schedule and prevent from losing track of time!

NOTE:  For the sake of productivity, have water placed with each position group.  This way they can grab a quick swig at natural transition periods without having to leave group.  Each position coach can also control when they send their unit for water.  Also, the water they drink during practice doesn’t really help, its more of a mental and physical break than a need for water.  Coaches need to constantly push the need to drink as much as possible between practices.

This is a two hour and fifteen minute practice when you count the pre practice period.  This is probably the perfect amount of practice time.  Long enough to done what is needed, but short enough to keep tempo at a high pace and keep moral high. Below I will provide an example of a practice template:

practice template

This is a generic template anyone can find online. I’m simply providing it to you so all your coaches can be on the same page.  Obviously you can label the sections as you see fit.  The purpose here is simply to provide a template.  You can put this on a document such as google share and have all your coaches fill in what they will be doing then print it out each day and every coach will know what every coach is doing and when!

CLOSING

As practice begins in the next few days, take some time to consider how we are practicing and purpose that it serves.  Is your practice structured in a manner that provides a clear purpose?  If you can’t easily answer yes, then you should consider changing things.  I will never claim to have all the answers, or that this is the end all be all of practice templates… but it’s a pretty good start.   Subscribe to my email list so you can be notified whenever a new article comes out!  Follow me on twitter at @thecoachvogt and also check out the following EBooks:  “Installing the Wide Zone” and “The Speed-T Offense”.

 

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The Speed-T: A Sneak Peak

The traditional Wing-T offense was developed in the early 1950’s by Coach Tubby Raymond at the University of Delaware.  Since then, the Wing-T concepts have permeated every single offense in the country from youth to the NFL. The principals of this offense are visible in zone based offenses, gap based offenses and even spread offenses.

The Wing-T is much more than a style of play, it is systematic way of attacking a defense. The very nature of the offense means that if the defense takes away one play, they are leaving themselves open for its companion play.

The Speed-T offense takes these concepts one step further.  The traditional Wing-T bases everything off of series, the Buck Sweep series, the Belly series and the Lead series.  The Speed-T takes these principles and simplifies them into basing the offense off of one singular play that will place considerable stress on the defense.  That Play is the Speed Sweep.

As I stated in my previous book “Installing the Wide Zone”, I am not here to give you a bunch of fluff.  I don’t want to tell you stories or waste your time with anecdotes and jokes.  My goal here is to provide a no frills, gimmick free, easy to read, and easy to apply system that you can install right now and start running the offense.  Everything will be straight forward, detailed in an efficient manner, and discernable for practical application.

There are a lot of offenses one can choose to run these days, and even more plays to choose from to be a part of that offense.  I a firm believer in “less is more” especially when it comes to football.  I believe every team from the peewees to the NFL can benefit from a condensed playbook.  Choose only one or two plays to base your offense from and have a companion play for each of those to bring to a total of NO MORE than four plays.  The Speed-T offense will base itself off of the Speed Sweep, let’s find out why by taking a look at Chapter One of “The Speed-T Offense”.

Part 1: Why the Speed-T

Why someone would choose the Speed-T offense for their team are many.  Utilizing the Speed sweep as a base play will take the advantages of the traditional Wing-T and amplify them.  Here is a look at how it accomplishes this feat:

  • Speed to the Edge
    • The Speed Sweep has the innate ability to get to the edge of the formation with great speed. By the time the ball is snapped the speed back is running full speed and gets the ball in stride.  Within 2 two to three steps he is on the edge, forcing the defense to react immediately or risk being out flanked.  There is no time for the defense to be cute and try and disguise what they are doing.  They most do it now.  Often they will do it pre-snap, showing their hand and exposing weakness based off your motion.
  • Numbers on the Flank
    • The formations of the Speed-T offense allow for extra run gaps to be created while still posing a vertical passing threat. This creates a natural conundrum for the defense. They can load the box and expose themselves to the Play Action game, they can defend the edges and give up the quick hitting inside game, or they can try and run down the speed sweep while defending inside gaps.  Most defenses will try the latter option as a game plan, which will allow you to chew them up four and five yards at a time, even with slow backs.  I don’t know about you, but I would do that all season.
  • Angles
    • The use of angles may be the single biggest advantage of this offense! Your blockers, OL or Skills, will never have to drive a defender backwards, they will always have an angle to their blocks. This allows you to use smaller or less athletic linemen and still be successful.  The entire system is based on taking what the defense is not defending, and getting there with as much speed and simplicity as possible.
  • Defensive Backs in Conflict
    • The extra run gaps created by the formations in the Speed-T offense will force the secondary players into run fits. You want to force the DB’s to make tackles.  When they start to play the run first, instead of the pass, now you can call the play action for a go ahead and score.
  • Companion Plays
    • Companion Plays are plays that are designed to look like the base play, but in reality are going to a different ball carrier or hitting a different spot. The companion plays to the Speed Sweep will infuriate Defensive Coordinators as they are quick hitting C gap to A gap runs that get fast easy yards into the heart of the defense.  The defense CAN NOT defend both.  They must make a choice.  The good DC’s will keep you guessing, but this can be mitigated with a check system we will talk about later.
  • Easy Rule System
    • Your Offensive Linemen will only have three possible rules in the run game. Yes, that is correct, just three.  They will have Reach, Gap, or Pull.  This allows them to play fast because they know the rule system in and out.  The rule system is also designed to place the blockers in positions that set them up for success so they gain confidence in the offense and their role.
  • 3 Ball Carriers
    • You have three possible ball carriers on any given play that the defense has to defend. If you incorporate the QB as a runner then the defense has to account for four ball carriers.  This forces the defense to spread itself thin by allocating defenders for each possible ball carrier.  Add in the fact that backs not getting the ball will be carrying out fakes, and you have a nightmare situation for the defense.
  • Sustained Success
    • History is on the side of the T based offenses. Most other offense produce “flash in the pan” success.  They will be good for a year, two years, and then back to obscurity.  While the teams that run a T based offense are consistently good, regardless of talent levels.  I don’t need to convince you of this, simply think of the successful teams in your state, or district.  Good chance the ones with sustained success are ones basing out of T concepts
  • Win with Lack of Talent
    • This goes back to the sustained success. Why does this happen?  It is in the way that the system works.  Blockers have numbers and angles.  The ball carries all carry out fakes taking defenders with them.  Companion plays work off each other to keep each play viable.
  • Easy to Call Plays
    • The Speed-T is an extremely easy system to call plays in. Implementing count systems and identifying who makes the tackle tells you what play to call.  It is an If/Then offense.  If the defense does this, then I do that.  It is very simple and keeps the defense from focusing on one portion of your attack.
  • It’s New Again
    • As a Speed-T guy, you will be the new kid on the block. You will be different.  People will not know how to line up one you or be sure how to defend you.  Your offense will be different than any other team, and those teams will be used to lining up on spread, four wide receiver sets all year long.  They will only have three days to prepare for you the week that they play you.

The Speed-T offense will allow you to take advantage of several factors.  You will be able to stress the defense with an edge attack that rapidly stretches the defense out.  You can use the edge attack to set up a punishing and quick hitting inside run game.  Then you can attack the defense with a complete passing series to take advantage of the defense when it sells out on the run game.  All of these things work together to make a complete offensive system.

CLOSING

Keep an eye out for the release, it will be happening very soon!  Give me a follow on twitter here @thecoachvogt and subscribe to my email list to be updated any time I release a new article!

The Lost Art of the 4 Minute Offense

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It is one of the saddest things I see happen to football teams, and I see it happen just about every week during football season.  I can guarantee most of you have as well.  You have a football team who has possession of the football, has the lead, and there are 3 minutes or so left on the clock. What happens next I find sad and unfortunate for the players of this team.  The offense, in its own infatuation with as many plays as possible, as many points as possible ends up getting stopped while only using up 30 to 40 seconds of clock.  The other team’s offense takes the field with 2:30 seconds and 2 to 3 time outs left, and proceeds to go down the field, score, and win the game.  Had the first team simply slowed down, even if they snap the ball fewer times, still got stopped, but used up 1:30 to 2:30 seconds of clock, it would be much more likely for their own defense to seal the win for them.  Now the other team fields their offense with 30 seconds to 1 minute left, now they have to resort to big plays and/or trick plays.

In this situation, traditional knowledge and coaching would dictate that you grind out the clock.  What I mean by that, is you take your time between snaps, you call plays that will keep the clock running, and utilize formations that allow you to call these plays regardless of defensive look. You might be a spread tempo team, and I’m not here to talk you out of your belief system and doing what you do.  Lots of teams win lots of games running spread, and going fast.  What I am here to do is make a case for the 4 minute offense!

WHY THE 4 MINUTE OFFENSE

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At some point it is going to happen.  There is no way around it. It is going to happen whether you like it or not.  YOU WILL HAVE TO LINE UP AND PLAY NASTY BALL! It may be down on the goal line, it could be 4th and short, it might be raining and spitting nasty weather, or you may have to chew up some clock to win the game. When this happens, you better be able to buckle up, get under center and do some gut punching! I am a firm believer that every team should have the ability to take snaps under center, and here is why:

  • The QB wedge and Fullback wedge. Its quick, its dirty, it gets first downs.  First downs turn to touch downs.
  • The path of the running backs are more downhill and aggressive in nature.
  • For your play actions and misdirection plays, the QB has his back to the defense

I am also a firm believer that everyone should have the ability to get into 21 and 22 personnel, and here is why:

  • It creates extra run gaps/lanes for the ball carriers.
  • It brings more bodies to the point of attack.
  • It makes it more difficult for the defense to outnumber you on the edges or in the box.
  • It is both physically and mentally tough on the defense, especially the defensive backs.
  • Easy to get into unbalanced formations

FINDING PERSONNEL

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I know, I know…. I hear some of you already.  “We just don’t have those type of guys coach.”  Well sit down, because you may not like what comes next.  That excuse is a nothing more than a cop out.  Everybody has those guys.  Be a dang coach and get them in the right spots.  The perceived lack of “guys” for a spot has nothing to do with players, and everything to do with coaches.  Period.  You have them I promise.  We are not here to cater to the desires of 14 to 18 year old kids.  We are here to build men of character, provide guidance, promote education, develop relations, and win games (yes this should be last).  Here is where you can find your tight ends and full backs:

  • Defensive lineman, use the non-starters, or use the starters if 21/22 is just going to be a special situation offense for you.
  • Linebackers, same deal as the D-Line
  • Bigger bodied wide outs
  • Back up offensive linemen
  • Bigger bodied running backs

WHAT PLAYS TO RUN

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The best part about the 4 minute offense, is you do not need to change any of your base concepts. The running game that is prevalent in the spread offense all have roots in 2 back formations.  You can call the same plays.  The rules for your offensive lineman will not change.  You are simply using personnel to create more gaps, and bring more bodies to the point of attack so you can chew up yards and eat clock.   Below I will diagram the most common spread running plays out of 22 personnel.

Inside Zone:

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Power O:

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Wide Zone:

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Counter GT:

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Isolation:

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CLOSING

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The 4 minute offense seems to be a lost art.  The ego that point averages seem to create is leading many coaches astray from basic game strategy concepts.  In the end, only one average matters.  The average amount of times you take the field and leave with a W! It is like I previously stated, every single team needs to have the ability to get under center and get in 22/21 personnel.  Regardless of your base offensive scheme.  The best modern example of this is the New England Patriots.  They are 4 and 5 wide 90 to 95 percent of the time.  However, when it is time to put the game away, they are undoubtedly the best 22/21 personnel team I have ever seen.  They have no qualms about jumping into 2 back sets, getting Brady under center and gut punching the defense all the way down the field.  Subscribe to my email list so you can be updated whenever a new article posts, and follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt.

 

5×5 For Adults With Jobs

5×5 might be the most effective lifting program for all around strength and hypertrophy.  Multiple sets give you volume needed for hypertrophy and 5 reps per set allow for heavy weight to be used.  It’s the best of both worlds.  You get adequate load used, as well as adequate time under tension (how long the weight is being lifted for.)  What are the draw backs? For a busy person with a job, especially if it’s a job that requires travel, or long hours like coaching, 5×5 can simply take too much time.  Throw having kids into the mix and it can be downright impossible to spend that much time in the gym.  So, how do we mitigate the time constraints of being an adult, and still be responsible for our own health and well being?  That is the question that I am going to answer for you in this article.

This program will divide your work outs into 2, 3 day rotations with 1 day off between rotations.  Example schedule will look like this: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, off. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, off. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, off, and so forth.

Each workday should take no more than 30 minutes.  If it takes any longer than that, as I have said before in previous articles, your doing it wrong.  Time between sets should be no more than 2 minutes; but try for 90 seconds or less if you can.   Each day is going to focus on just 1 main lift, and 1 supplemental lift that will be incorporated into your conditioning circuit after the main lift is done.

THE BIG LIFTS AND STARTING WEIGHTS

Barbell

You will have 6 BIG LIFTS to focus on for this work out program.

Rotation 1 Lifts are: Push Press, Front Squat and Dead Lift.  The coinciding supplemental lifts are Pull ups, Sit Ups and Barbell Curls.

Rotation 2 lifts are: Bench Press or Weighted Dip, Back Squat and Power Cleans.  The supplemental lifts for rotation 2 are: Barbell Rows, Ab Wheel or Variant and Chin Ups.

For each of the Big Lifts you will choose one of the following starting weights: 115, 135, 185, 225, 275, 315, 365, 385, 405.  Always choose lighter than you think you will need to begin this program.  So, if you are pretty certain you could get 5 sets of 5 at 225 pounds, you should start at 185 to give you room for steady progression.

SETS AND REPS

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As the title fore tells you will be doing 5 sets of 5 reps.  You will keep the same weight across all sets. On your last set you will try for as many reps as possible while maintaining good form.  Some days you will feel great and get 6-10 reps, other days you will struggle to get 5 and that’s OK.  If you get ALL 5 reps on ALL 5 sets then you will increase the weight by 10 pounds.  If you miss just 1 single rep, you will keep the same weight and try again next rotation.

SUPPLEMENTAL LIFTS AND CONDITIONING

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To save time you will combine your supplemental lifts with conditioning into a circuit consisting of 3 to 10 rounds or in an “as many rounds as possible” in 10 to 15 minute time windows.  These circuits are NOT cardio, they are metabolic conditioning. Your supplemental lifts should aim for 30-50 total reps by the end of the circuit. There are several ways to go about doing this.  An easy way is to look at something like CrossFit’s website for the WOD and just add your supplemental lift to the WOD or replace an exercise with yours.  I like to get creative.  Here is an example for Push Press day:

10 rounds of: 5 pull ups, 10 kettlebell swings, 10 kettlebell thrusters.  Personally I like to make my conditioning circuit a full body circuit. So, even though my main lift will be either upper, leg, or hip focused, the MetCon can hit the entire body.  This is good for strength, fat burn and overall muscular development.

CLOSING

This workout takes one of the most effective workout programs ever developed and makes it applicable to the everyday working man.  Everybody can take 30 minutes or less for a workout.  If you have to miss a day because of responsibilities, its no big deal.  The scheduling of the program allows you to simply pick up where ever you left off.  Give this program a try for 3 months, if you can do that consistently paired with good diet and good sleeping habits you will get stronger and in better condition.  Subscribe to my email list so you can be updated whenever a new article posts, and follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt.

”FUN”ctional Training

How do we incentivize the “grind”? Most of your players will end up enjoying the strength training process, and seeing themselves get stronger, faster, and bigger.  But, let’s face it, the “grind” can be a dang grind sometimes.  We need to remember that these are 14 to 18 year old kids, they still like to do frivolous things and have fun.  Hell, I’m 33 and I still like to do dumb things too! So, how do we incorporate FUN into strength and conditioning and still promote, competition, toughness and functional strength? This article will touch on rewards, competition, and challenges all designed to put some fun into your training programs.  If you haven’t read my article on effective strength training then you need to go check it out here (Simple But Strong). These exercises are not meant to merely push them to compete, but to breed winners through competition.  I am not seeking competition, but DOMINATION in the weight room, on the field, and in life from my players.

REWARDS

Rewards are an obvious way to incentivize your players to train hard. But there is a catch, they cant be too frequent or they become expectations instead of extra incentive.  As far as rewards go, follow these 2 rules and the kids will want them.

1-Can they eat/Drink it; Protein bars, Candy, Protein Shakes, Fast Food

2-Can they wear it?  Will others see it? Social recognition can be important to them.

Its that simple, if it falls into one of those two categories they will compete for the chance to win.  How do you determine the winner(s)? Again, keep things simple.  Here are some examples

  • Most reps on the last set attained (pick 1 of your core movements)
  • The player who completes the conditioning portion the quickest
  • The player(s) that did not miss a day that week
  • The player who is working out with the weight closest to their old max (pick 1 core movement)
  • The player you ID as taking leadership roles (explain why as a group, and use specific examples, again social recognition)

These are all easy ways to provide some incentive and extra motivation, don’t make it a daily occurrence, or even a weekly occurrence.  About every other week or so seems to be right.  Whole team rewards are great too!  Here are some great examples of whole team rewards:

  • After lifting, instead of conditioning have some of the coaches set up a giant slip and slide outside while the players continue to lift. When they come out for conditioning and see that instead you just had an easy and huge moral boost.  They will go nuts.
  • Have an ice cream/snow cone truck show up to lifting so when they finish, it arrives and they can all go get something cold to eat. (obviously something like this would be dependent on funding, you want it to be free for them…)
  • Have T-shirts made for the players that never missed a day of training all off season

COMPETITIONS

Competitions are a great way to condition and compete at the same time.  Most of the time the players will not realize how tired they are until after the event is completed.  They can be as simple as relay races (get creative). Or as complex as games.  Divide the field into 4 separate zones that way you can have 8 teams all playing at the same time.  Gatorball is a great fast paced game that will get them all breathing hard.  Flag football is an obvious choice.  There are countless games that could be played, set it up in a tournament fashion so you have a team that is declared champions, but have the losing teams still play each other so they are still moving and competing.  Tug-A-War might be the simplest one, yet gets the most heated and competitive.  The most fun to watch…. Is towel fights.  Take a towel, roll it up and tape it.  Then have to players grab it with one hand overhand grip and the other underhanded.  Have each players hands staggered with the others.  Then say go and watch you wins, gives you an instant view into who your fighters are and who will need extra motivation to keep from quitting!

CHALLENGES

I love challenges. You can literally make anything a challenge that you are already doing in the weight room.  Here is what I choose to do.  Every Friday is called “Big Friday”.  Each Friday one of the Big 3 lifts (Push Press, Front Squat, Dead Lift) is going to done for the heaviest set of five possible instead of 5 sets of 5 across.  Rotate the lifts so they are done every 3rd week.  For example, if it is the week for Front Squat, instead of doing 5 sets of 5 at 205 pounds, the lifter will start light and work up heavier each set until he cannot get 5 reps any more. The players who get the highest total get to write their names up on the boards as king of that lift until the next time that lift is done and somebody beats them.  On the boards you will have 3 groups for the lift. OL/DL, RB/LB and WR/DB. So you will have 3 kings for each lift.  The players love to write their names and totals on the boards, and they get a big kick out of erasing the name of somebody they beat.  Here are some other simple examples:

  • Who can hold 205 the longest in a locked out Dead Lift position
  • Who can Plank the longest
  • Who can do the most push ups/sit-ups/ pull ups in a given time period.

All quick and easy to judge.  Give a reward for the winners if desired.

CLOSING

These are all simple ways to take some of the grind, out of the “grind”. As coaches, its our job to make sure we are promoting healthy competition and keeping moral high.  We want our players to want to be there.  Kids want to be successful, and they want to have fun too. There is no reason we can’t give them both. What better way to keep kids in the weight room working hard, than creating an environment in which they have fun doing it in? In doing so, you will create not competitors; but instead, you will develop Dominators! Please subscribe to my email list so you can be notified whenever I post a new article, and give me a follow on twitter at @thecoachvogt.

Staying In Shape As A Coach With A Family

They say if you have your health, you can handle anything.  For the most part that is a true statement.  This article is going to be about staying fit and being healthy for your family.  I’m not here to tell you how to be on the cover of a muscle and fitness magazine, or win the next gold medal in the clean and jerk, but to provide a guide on how to establish and then maintain healthy level of strength and body weight.  It can be a trying ordeal in this profession.  Long hours, sporadic meals, of which many are of questionable decision making for the sake of convenience.  On top of that, you have a family as well. How can you justify taking even more time from them?  It is my belief that you owe it to your family to take care of yourself. Self care is self preservation, you can only take care of someone else when you are able to take care of yourself as well. You should be able to play in the back yard with the kids and not get winded.  Or to have the general strength to take on work around the yard and house.  This article will walk you through an easy to understand plan for diet, programming, and time management; to hopefully avoid the dreaded “coach bod”

Coach Bod- the gradual accumulation of weight around the mid section as a result of high stress, low amounts of sleep and poor diet choices to make up for lack of time.
Think about how you looked when you first finished playing football. Think about the things you could do.  While returning to the level you were at when playing is not likely, we can get in pretty good shape!

DIET

food3

I am definitely no expert in nutrition, but I can tell you this.  We are adults, and we know how to eat healthy and make adult decisions.  I get it, and I’m guilty too from time to time.  Those convince stops for food save time.  We all know that stopping for fast food after practice, and/or games is not the best choice, and it usually becomes a habit.  A habit that can lead to pounds stacking up each season.  Add a few seasons together and you start to go buy bigger pants.  Its not just after practice either.  Starting your day with cereal that comes out of a box with a cartoon character on it should not be on your things to do.  Skipping breakfast can be even worse, then you get hungry and snack in the teachers lounge, buy something from the vending machine or go out and buy a big lunch.  Nothing wrong with that…. but when you’re hungry you tend to choose calorie dense, nutrient weak foods.

Here is a list of foods to avoid:

SODA (by all means, even diet…stay away!)

Wheat (any carbohydrate that comes from a box or bag. Ex: sugar, cereal, bread, bagels…you get it)

Corn (its bad, no it’s not a vegetable)

              The problem with corn and wheat is that its literally in everything!  So as a general rule, buy food from the outside perimeter of the grocery store.

Dairy (ok in small amounts)

Pork (yes its awesomely delicious, save it for special occasions)

Beans and rice (highly estrogenic, estrogen = boobs)

Here is a list of foods to eat:

WATER (the best anabolic hands down)

Vegetables (all kinds, all colors.  Eat lots. Mom was right all along)

Fruit (the more fibrous the better)

Things that used to have a face (chicken, beef, fish and so on)

Eggs

Potatoes (white, sweet, red… all OK.  Just keep them on workout days)

Nuts

Meal Planning

Planning your meals makes eating healthier very easy.  Its not hard.  Tupperware on amazon is like 5 bucks for 5 containers.  Cook 3-5 lunches for work and stick them in the fridge.  Eat eggs and other meat along with fruit and or vegetables in the morning.  For dinner have one of the pre-made meals or cook something that is on the good list I provided.   Here are some photos of some meals that could be used:

Most of you will lose weight just by cleaning up the diet, but if you want aggressive weight loss, it can be attained.  Here is my disclaimer. From my time cutting weight as a wrestler I can tell you this, the faster the weight is lost…the higher the amount of suck it will be.  It also has a greater chance of rebounding back after.  Well, here it is, get some protein powder and you only get one solid meal a day.  One shake in the morning upon waking up, one mid-morning, one for late lunch and one after work.  Protein shake is mixed with water. Your single solid meal will be meat and vegetables, no carbs.  Again, this will suck.  It will however get the weight off you.  I would not stay on this for more than 20-25 days at a time.  Take a few months of normal healthy eating before repeating.  For most of us, just following basic healthy adult eating will be fine.  As a general rule, follow the 80/20 rule.  that it, 80 percent of your diet should come from the good list.

THE PROGRAM

We are coaches, we teach all day then go coach for 2 to 3 more hours before coming home.  During the season we go back on the weekends for staff meetings and when we are home, we usually are still doing some work at some point.  This is not going to make you set any records or grace the cover of muscle and fitness…well if it does make sure you credit me!  All joking aside, this is designed to get you stronger and make you look like you could still play a snap or two if you had too. The whole thing will take between 15 and 30 minutes, and it is 5 to 6 days a week depending on rotation and how you are feeling recovery wise.

Working out more days for shorter amounts of time is the best way to go.  It develops habits, and you are in and out of the weight room, vs the other method of 3 to 4 days a week and in the weight room for an hour, sometimes more.  You will have a warm up, a strength lift, a supplemental lift, a MetCon and then you are done. MetCon stands for metabolic conditioning.  It was established by the Russian weightlifting team in the 1940s. Today, hipsters like to call it crossfit (Don’t worry, we won’t be doing any flying monkey snatches).  It is short, it is intense, it gets the heart rate up, which is what we want.

Warming up is easy, you can do old school calisthenics, a quick jog or my favorite, jump rope.  I highly recommend jumping rope, it is a great whole body warm up, primes the central nervous system and only needs to be done for 1 to 3 minutes.  It is also a good test to determine how the day is going to go.  If you blast through the jump rope you can probably really get after the weights.  Stumble and smack your shins and your back a lot…you probably should take it easier as your nervous system may need a break.

The program goes 3 days on, and 1 day rest/off

Day 1

Squat movement (back squat, front squat, over head squat, split squat) you pick.  I would pick 2 lifts to focus on and then rotate them every round. So Day One do back squats, the next Day One do front. THIS GOES FOR ALL EXERCISE SELECTIONS, pick 2 to focus on.  Switch after 3-5 months if you really want to.

Posterior chain movement (RDL, Lunges, leg curls, anything that targets back of the legs or gluteals)

MetCon

Day 2

Hinge Move (dead lift, Cleans, Kettle bell swings)

Pull Move (pull ups, chin ups, rows, barbell curls)

MetCon

Day 3

Push Move (Push press, bench, dips, strict overhead press)

Push Move (close grip bench, push ups, tricep extensions)

MetCon

Rest day, then repeat Day 1 with the other lift options you chose

You will only track the last set of each main lift.  First 1 to 4 sets will be ramping sets of 5 reps that progressively get heavier till you get to your work set.  Then for that weight you will try to get as many as possible.  Once you can get between 8 and 10, you know next time you do that lift you can move up 5 to 10 pounds.  After the work set no matter how many you get, take 10 to 20 deep breaths and do it again, you may only get 1 or 2 reps but that is OK.  The idea is that you did it again while the body was still taxed.  An example ramp might look like this,

Back squat-45×5, 135×5, 225×5 and 275×7, 20 breaths then 3 more reps.

For the second lift just do 2 to 3 sets till you are just shy of failure at a manageable weight.  Don’t worry about tracking, just put on what feels right for that day.

MetCons are simple, get moving fast with inefficient movements.  Combining 2-3 movements seams to work best.  One of my favorites is combining jump rope with push ups.  Jump rope for 30 seconds as fast as possible then do 20 push ups and go back and forth for 10-15 minutes.  No MetCon should take longer than 20 minutes.  Always cut it off at 20 minutes, 15 minutes is usually what I go for.  Another combo is burpees and sit ups. or jogging and jumping jacks. The good thing about a MetCon is, it can be different every day, a simple search of the word, or the various crossfit type websites will give you all you ever need.

TIME MANAGEMENT 

This whole work out should take no more than 30 minutes, 20 should be an attainable average.  But you are working out 5-6 days per week to make up for the short time.  You can fit 20 minutes a day anywhere.  Wake up early to get to a gym.  If your like me and have stuff in your garage, do it there in early morning.  We coach at schools, use the school weight room, get in early.  Do it on your plan period, its only 30 minutes of working out.  Do it on your lunch break.  Or right after practice before you go home.  Once your home let that be family time.  Either start your day with the workout while the family is asleep, or do it before you get home at some point.  You should let home time, be home time.  You can also use family time as a way to get extra movement in.  Play with the kids outside, or go for a family walk, walk the dog.  We live right by a wild life preserve called Turkey Creek, I love to take my son there and walk the trails.  Its bonding time and some extra movement to help maintain a healthy life style.

(My son and I checking the map in Turkey Creek):

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CLOSING

This should be more than enough to get you started and maintained for a long time.  Finding time to keep ourselves healthy is a priority if we want to be there for our family and set a good example for our children to be healthy as well.  As always please feel free to comment with any questions.  Subscribe to the email list to be updated whenever I post a new article and give me a follow on twitter @thecoachvogt