High School Football Strength and ConditioningAuthor: Andrew Williams, CSCS, Head S&C Coach at D1 Columbus
While the end of summer comes as a time of angst to many as beach days and summer strolls are over, it marks the beginning of a fresh start for football players to get back to the field bigger, faster, and stronger than the previous year.
So, what is the most efficient way for football players to come back every year better than their last? The answer is smart training and preparation. A big problem I have come across since coaching high school football players is that they waste their off-season by not dedicating it to training for the upcoming season. They then try to play catch up a month or two before their first practice.
There is no overnight solution to strength and speed. It develops gradually over time by staying consistent with resistance training, eating healthy, and resting properly. If any one of those three factors are lacking, performance will suffer. When it comes to the strength training aspect of properly preparing for the intense physical demands and high impact collisions in football, the king of exercises are the squat and deadlift. No other exercises build the muscles essential to success in sports performance like the squat and deadlift. These exercises build the hamstrings, low back, spinal muscles, quads, abs, grip, and neck like no other. Sure, exercises like curls and bench presses have their place in training for football, but the emphasis should always be towards enhancing performance and preventing injury first.
The tricky part of this solution is having young athletes perform the squat and deadlift exercises properly. I have had numerous athletes come into my gym believing they can lift way more than they actually can. Often, youth athletes lift at their high school weight room, where unfortunately ego lifting takes priority over proper technique and development.
Having an experienced coach supervising athletes, instructing them, and ingraining proper execution into their head rep after rep, can be the difference between a winning and losing season. At D1 Columbus, we coach every rep of every set, never settling for anything less than perfect. Remember, practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. Through this philosophy of perfection (whether it be in the weight room or on the field), we raise our athletes expectations of themselves, injuries are prevented, confidence improves, and performance is elevated.
Preparing for the upcoming season starts with training in-season. As the athlete trains correctly in-season, they will maintain their strength and muscle mass and even gain strength throughout the season. This allows them to play their most important games at peak strength. Getting through the season strong and healthy is the first step to a great off-season of preparation.
At D1 Columbus, we have several pathways and guidelines on in-season training and how and why you need to get it done. This should be a priority going to football practice. Performance will fall back to your preparedness. Don't let excuses dictate your preparation.
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