Coaching Management VOL. XIII, NO. 10
TACKLING COMBINES College Recruiters Take A Step Back ■
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Coaching Management Football Edition Postseason 2005
Vol. XIII, No. 10
Bulletin Board . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
NCAA targets spearing … Atlanta high school starts season with a sleep over in the gym … Texas launches Internet video magazine … Strike by coaches at Pennsylvania’s state colleges avoided … Academic progress rules affect recruiting process … Summer scholarship revocations criticized.
Q&A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Ed Thomas, Head Coach at AplingtonParkersburg (Iowa) High School, has four former players in the NFL, and all four are linemen. GUIDE TO VIDEO EDITING SYSTEMS . . . . . . . . 54 UNIFORMS & APPAREL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 TEAM EQUIPMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 FOOTBALL FACILITIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 POWER RACKS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 STRENGTH TRAINING EQUIPMENT . . . . . . . . . . 66 MORE PRODUCTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 WEB NEWS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 ADVERTISERS DIRECTORY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
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Editor-in-Chief Eleanor Frankel Associate Editor Dennis Read Assistant Editors R.J. Anderson Kenny Berkowitz Abigail Funk David Hill Greg Scholand Laura Smith
College coaches love the information high school combines provide, but worry about the recruiting demands they create. Instead of just talking about the problem, coaches are joining together to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.
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Circle No. 101
LOCKER ROOM BULLETIN BOARD Taking Aim At Spearing Dale Patton, Head Coach at Pekin (Ill.) High School, calls it the most important 60 minutes of the year. It’s a meeting the night before the team’s first preseason practice, and it’s significant because he and his staff present players their first of many warnings about the dangers of spearing. “In a loud, almost demandingtype voice, we say, ‘If you do
attention during the 2005 college and high school season, which is likely to continue in 2006. To encourage officials to be more vigilant in calling spearing penalties, the NCAA removed the “intent” clause from its rule prohibiting headdown tackling, and the National Federation of State High School Associations says it will look into making the same change. Shortly after the end of the 2004 season, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and American Football Coaches
to discern intent in the heat of play. The task force met with the NCAA Football Rules Committee, which removed intent from the rule. Rule enforcement is only part of a multi-pronged approach to ending this dangerous practice. Much of the focus is on teaching proper technique. The AFCA also reiterated that allowing spearing is unethical coaching behavior. A major part of the initiative is explaining why spearing is so
between the suddenly stationary head and still-moving body in a tackle. Dangerous compressive forces can result. Laboratory tests have shown that a fracture or dislocation of the neck can occur with less than 150 foot-pounds of energy, while a college-age player can inflict 1,500 foot-pounds. According to the NCAA, defensive players are four times more likely to suffer catastrophic cervical-spine injuries than offensive players. Thus the emphasis on proper tackling— though offensive players should also be taught to avoid putting their heads down as they’re about to be tackled. First contact, on offense or defense, should be made with the shoulder while the head is up. Even at the top level of college play, coaches can’t assume that players know and practice proper technique, so it’s emphasized from day one. “When we bring freshmen in, we tell them, ‘Keep your head up,’” says Kyle Whittingham, Head Coach at the University of Utah and a veteran defensive coordinator. “We don’t assume they understand proper tackling technique and safety.”
AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS
With his players, Patton acknowledges that head-down play has been part of the game, but says it’s because coaches years ago didn’t know In an effort to reduce the number of helmet-to-helmet hits, such as one that left Georgia’s Reggie better. “We tell our players, Brown motionless on the field for several minutes in 2004, the NCAA revised its spearing rule before ‘See what you block, and see what you tackle.’ If you do the 2005 season. Officials no longer have to determine intent before calling a spearing penalty. that, you’re likely not to have any problems,” he says. “And dangerous to players on both Association (AFCA) formed a this, there’s a strong possibilwhen we get kids who, whethsides of the ball. The task task force to examine headity that you will die,’” Patton er by accident or by design, force and NCAA sent a locker says. “We don’t hedge around down contact and found do lead with the head—even if room poster to all member spearing penalties are rarely it. The freshmen’s eyes get the referees in a game don’t football teams reminding playdoled out. Game officials told really wide when their head catch it—we call the kids in ers to keep their heads up. coach puts it in those terms. It the task force that the rule and tell them they’re going to The NCAA developed a Powdefining spearing as the really hits home.” be suspended if they do it erPoint presentation outlining “intentional use of the helmet again. We talk to their parents, the mechanism behind serious (including the face mask) in an Spearing—and the related and we point it out on film. neck injuries: When the head attempt to punish the oppotechniques of butt blocking I’ve got a young man this year is pointed down, the neck is nent” made the call difficult to and taking a hit with the helwho did it last year, and if he make because it required them straightened and caught met down—received special does it again, he’s going to be disThe NCAA’s presentation on head-down tackling and blocking and proper technique can be downloaded missed from the from the NCAA Web site at: www1.ncaa.org/membership/ed_outreach/health-safety/index.html. team.”
Circle No. 102
LOCKER ROOM BULLETIN BOARD Camping Out In The Gym By the time the 5 a.m. wakeup call made its way around the Therrell High School gym in Atlanta, first-year Head Coach Terry Davis had already been up for 30 minutes. After all, he had to let in the parent and community volunteers who cooked breakfast before he could rouse his team from its school-bound slumber. The early rising team went on a two-mile jog to the local mall and back, showered, had a hot breakfast, and was out on the practice field by 7 a.m. The morning session was followed by another volunteerprepared meal at lunchtime. Depending on the day, team meetings and weightlifting sessions, or maybe a quick nap, filled the early afternoons. A second practice took place in late afternoon, followed by dinner and a team meeting. There was some free time throughout the day, but lights were out by 11 p.m. The Therrell football team followed this routine for one week, turning a regular preseason camp into sleepover camp. With the exception of their early-morning jogs, the team never left school property, sleeping on mattresses brought from home and set up on the gym floor. Davis and his assistant coaches slept in the gym as well—Davis either in the middle of the floor or in the doorway. “That way I could keep watch, and if anybody wanted in or out, they had to step over me,” he says. During Davis’ first coaching job in 1983 as an assistant at Adel (Ga.) High School, he participated in a sleepover camp put together by the head coach. Davis has done the same thing at every school he’s coached at since. “Anywhere I work, until I coach at the college level, we’ll do this in the school gym,” says Davis. “It gives the team a
real sense of community and discipline. Plus we were able to get in 24 sessions in one week.
Longhorns Vmag Provides Inside Look For Fans
“We did double and triple sessions, and had meetings in between and at night,” he continues. “The guys get into a routine—then team-building happens faster, and a whole lot of important information is conveyed quicker.”
Would you allow video cameras at all of your practices, in the weightroom during strength training sessions, and even into the locker room before games and during halftime?
through Texas’ football Web site. In five hour-long issues of the video magazine (the first of which is free), subscribers can watch the Texas football program from an insider’s point of view. Features include a day with quarterback Vince Young, tours of Brown’s office and summer retreat, and training sessions with Strength
Going into Davis’ first year at Therrell, he knew things had to change for the team to be successful. “We were coming off a 2-8 season, and I knew I had to do something,” he says. “And the players really bought into it, since they knew they weren’t going home. Because they knew they were going to be here all night, there was no need to hurry up, no ‘five more minutes to get this done.’” Before holding the camp, Davis was required to submit management and emergency plans to the principal. “Luckily, the fire station is only about 200 yards away,” Davis says. “I’m sure that helped to have the plan approved. But every school has a gym, and every school can do this. I don’t see why any principal wouldn’t allow camp—just get your emergency plan in order ahead of time.” Davis has only heard good things about his newborn tradition at Therrell. Any parent who had time available volunteered, and while some players were skeptical at first, all were fully on board Davis’ program by the end of the week. “We had one player who had a bad attitude, and he knew it,” he says. “He came up to us during the last night and said he was sorry for the way he’d been acting and that he would have a better attitude and be a better person. It was completely out of the blue. I turned to another coach and said, ‘See? Attitudes are changing.’”
Jeff Madden, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Texas, is featured in a segment of a Longhorns video magazine being distributed over the Internet. Fans who sign up for the five hour-long issues get an inside look at Texas football, including a tour of Head Coach Mack Brown’s office and a typical day with quarterback Vince Young. Mack Brown, Head Coach at the University of Texas, is doing just that. As part of the university’s “Get Hooked” campaign, the Longhorns are being showcased in an Internet-based video magazine that is updated monthly throughout the season. For an annual subscription fee of $24.95, alumni and fans can access the Longhorns Vmag
and Conditioning Coach Jeff Madden. Subscribers receive an e-mail when new editions are available for download. The fullscreen television-quality picture can be viewed on most computers. “We’re trying to stay on the cutting edge of technology,” Brown told The NCAA News. “People are interested in the inside story,
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LOCKER ROOM BULLETIN BOARD and we can start telling those stories in a controlled setting.”
stood that these things are a part of life.”
NEWgame Communications, Inc., produces Vmags, and is headed by Kathleen Hessert, also president of Sports Media Challenge, a consulting firm that has worked with Brown for years. Hessert says that while Brown has allowed exclusive access to her camera crews and production team, he hasn’t let them interfere with the way he runs the program.
Of the issues that needed to be hammered out, pay increases topped the list. Under the new contract, coaches receive a three-percent salary increase for the 2005-06 school year and again for 2006-07, with the potential for an additional performance-based raise of up to two and a half percent per year. Full- and part-time coaches with at least 10 consecutive years of experience also received a one-time cash payment of $50 for each year they have coached.
Madden has granted access to his training program and is getting some rare attention. “One of the reasons Coach Brown is allowing this inside look is because it’s a valuable way to give the right kind of exposure to assistant coaches like Jeff Madden,” Hessert says. “These coaches aren’t on the six o’clock news or the front page of the sports section every day.” Another Vmag feature is coverage of rookie orientation, an area the public is often not let in on, but is of great interest— especially to the recruits who are expected to view the video magazine. “For recruiting purposes, this is a real edge for Texas,” Hessert says. “Recruits and their parents can watch and understand more about the program. When my son was being recruited to play football, I wanted to know everything I could. This type of information is invaluable to a parent.” To view a free introductory copy of the Texas Longhorns Vmag, visit: mackbrown-texasfootball. com.
Penn. Coaches’ Strike Averted When Shippensburg University opened its 2005 season with a narrow 10-3 win on Aug. 27, it was the second close call worth celebrating that week for Head Coach Rocky Rees.
In addition to coaching the Shippensburg University football team, Rocky Rees also serves as chief negotiator for the union that represents coaches in the Pennsylvania state college system. The two roles collided this summer as a possible coaches’ strike was averted days before the opening of the 2005 football season. Just days before the game, Rees—who is also chief negotiator for the union that represents coaches in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC)—learned that a new contract agreement had been reached between the union and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The deal ended the possibility of a coaches’ strike that threatened to shut down sports in the NCAA Division II conference. About 360 PSAC coaches— those not under separate faculty contracts at their schools —are represented by the country’s only coaches’ union, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF). Working without a contract since their previous one expired in 2004 and facing unresolved issues including pay raises, health insurance, and performance evaluations, the coaches in June 2005 authorized APSCUF to call a work stoppage. The official strike date was never made public, and coaches reported to preseason prac-
tices as scheduled. But newspaper reports speculated that if a deal were not in place by late August, teams at the 14 PSAC schools would have likely found themselves, at least temporarily, without coaches. A tentative agreement was announced on Aug. 23, and Rees says players and coaches alike were relieved to learn their seasons would not be interrupted. “I was disappointed from the beginning that the student-athletes had to be put through the anxiety of a potential strike,” he says. “And as coaches, we were burdened with the thought of having to tell our players that our families had to come first.” While that burden never materialized, many PSAC coaches were encouraged to find that their athletes not only understood their situation, but also supported them. “I told them if we did go on strike, it would be because it’s the only resource we have left,” Rees explains. “My players said that while they hoped it didn’t happen, they under-
The coaches did not secure the direct link between performance evaluations and contract renewals they originally requested to protect job security. But as part of the new agreement, university presidents have to provide written justification whenever an individual coach’s contract is not renewed. The coaches also agreed to contribute 0.5 percent of their salary to offset the cost of health insurance in 2006, and one percent in 2007. While the threat of a strike made many uneasy, Rees says the coaches of the PSAC support the concept of unionization, and realize that it gives them critical leverage in collective bargaining. Before joining APSCUF, which also represents 5,500 faculty members at Pennsylvania state schools, virtually all aspects of a coach’s job were controlled by his or her university president. “Each president handled things his or her own way, but there was nothing to protect our rights,” Rees says. “We had no sick days, so if we were to have a catastrophic illness, we were at the mercy of the president to keep us on during that time. We had no guarantee of job security, either. We were basically on year-to-year contracts even after we had been at the same place for 15 or 20 years.”
Circle No. 104
LOCKER ROOM BULLETIN BOARD Many coaches’ salaries were also very low. The first contract they secured through the union, which took effect in 2002, set salary ranges for fulltime head coaches ($30,000$85,000) and assistant coaches ($25,000-$50,000), as well as minimum salaries for part-time coaches. Before they unionized, Rees knew of some coaches who were eligible for public assistance programs while working full-time for their university.
H.S. Coaches Riled By Pulled Scholarships
The South Carolina Football Coaches’ Association Board of Directors blasted Spurrier’s move in a letter signed by 90 coaches and sent to Spurrier and South Carolina Athletic Director Eric Hyman. The complaints centered on the timing of and reasoning for Spurrier’s decision. “We understand athletic scholarships are a year commitment,” the board’s letter stated. “However, we feel that unless an athlete ‘breaks rules’ or embarrasses the institution, to revoke a scholarship because you feel an athlete cannot play at the level needed to compete in the Southeastern Conference is unethical.”
University of South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier upset some high school coaches in his state when he revoked the scholarships of six players during the summer.
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Circle No. 105
AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS
Despite the buzz surrounding the University of South Carolina’s hiring of Head Coach Steve Spurrier, some high school coaches in the state are not enamored with the Gamecocks football program and
its new coach. In a nationally publicized and criticized move, Spurrier revoked the scholarships of six players recruited by his predecessor, drawing the ire of a number of the state’s high school coaches.
Spurrier defended his actions at the Southeastern Conference preseason football gathering. “We had some walk-on players who were actually contributing more,” Spurrier said. “So some of the high schoolers, they got mad about it. I don’t know what to say, but to me in life you put people on scholarship who deserve it the most and that’s what we tried to do.” The high school coaches felt that the timing of the decision would make it very difficult for those athletes to transfer and find a scholarship or roster spot at another institution. “If coming out of spring practice you make that decision, that’s one thing,” said Andy Tweito, an Assistant Coach at Daniel High School in Central, S.C., and a member of the board of the South Carolina Football Coaches Association in an interview with The Associated Press. “Now, these kids are
stranded, they have nowhere to go. He’s left the kids high and dry.” The board’s letter mentioned that the coaches might recommend that the South Carolina High School League find an alternate location for its five state championship games, which are played at South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium. However, according to SCHSL Executive Director Jerome Singleton, the SCFCA never made a formal change-ofvenue request, and the championship games will be played in Columbia as planned. But that doesn’t mean the coaches will forget Spurrier’s actions anytime soon. “Our group is sticking together and saying, ‘Look, if this is the way they’re going to treat our kids, then we don’t know that they’ll be welcome when they come recruiting kids in the
future,’” says Keith Richardson, Executive Secretary of the South Carolina Athletic Coaches Association. “Hopefully our coaches will be sure that their kids who are recruited by South Carolina are aware that if they don’t perform, they could lose their scholarship.”
Possible Sanctions Not Academic College recruiting has always been about what a prospect can contribute to a team. That’s mostly meant what he can do on the field, with academics a small part of the mix. But at the NCAA Division I level, academic potential and team contributions are linked more closely than ever now that student-athletes can directly help or hurt their teams by their classroom performance.
When the NCAA released the first batch of academic scores this past spring under its Academic Progress Rate (APR) system, 29 percent of football teams had scores that would put them in danger of scholarship losses if the penalties that could be imposed as early as this winter were already in effect. Many more schools didn’t make the cut of 925—a score that the Association says translates into a 50 percent graduation rate—but were within the margin of error being used for the system’s first few years. The threat of penalties combined with the embarrassment that would accompany failure to meet the academic standard has led to a change in recruiting. “We’re definitely taking fewer chances now,” says Troy Rothenbuhler, Tight Ends Coach and Recruiting Coordinator at Bowling Green
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Circle No. 106 COACHING MANAGEMENT
Circle No. 107
LOCKER ROOM BULLETIN BOARD State University. “In the past, you’d take chances on some kids hoping that you could keep them eligible. Now, we’re going to take fewer of those, because down the road, it’s going to catch up to you.” The numbers made public in March reflect the academic performance of Division I scholarship athletes in all NCAA championship sports during the 2003-04 academic year. When more years of data are available, scores will be based on a rolling four-year tally. Each student-athlete can earn two points per term— one by remaining in school and one by remaining academically eligible for competition. At the end of the school year, points are tallied, divided by the total points that the program could have earned, and multiplied by 1,000 to establish the APR score.
JUSTIN KASE CONDER/FRESNO STATE ATHLETICS
Since the first round of scores came out, the NCAA adjusted some scores to reflect quirks such as incorrectly reported data, incompletes in certain courses for particular athletes, and schools that use term calendars instead of semesters. When those were applied, along with the margin of error, about 26 percent of football teams would have faced penalties, a higher rate than any other sport. Then in August, the NCAA allowed for circumstances beyond a team’s control to be taken into account. These include athletes turning pro before graduating, a personal or family illness, or the student’s major academic program being canceled. The Committee on Academic Performance, however, also specified that other circumstances would not receive such consideration. Among them are an athlete dropping out because of a coaching change, loss of scholarship, lack of playing time, or academic or disciplinary suspension. The ultimate aim is to help ensure studentathletes graduate, which is the
same goal recruiters want prospects to have, Rothenbuhler says. Bowling Green’s 929 score is above the cut, but the APR system makes clear that a prospect’s academic potential has to be more closely scrutinized. “We’re evaluating transcripts better and trying to get them sooner so our academic
view school personnel and parents, looking for signs that the student-athlete will be academically motivated in college. “You have to make sure that they want a degree, and that they want to go to class, not just that they’re a great player and they want to play football,” he says. “You have to know if they’ve got a support
When Hill took the Fresno State job in 1999, he set out to improve the program’s academic performance, which two years earlier USA Today had labeled the worst in the country. Three days a week, Hill and his staff meet with all freshmen and any upperclassmen who have a GPA below 2.2 to go over assignments, grades, and upcoming tests.
The NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate system not only threatens underperforming schools with sanctions including loss of scholarships, it also provides a way for programs to highlight their academic successes. Fresno State, for example, points to its 939 score, fourth among Division I schools in the West, as evidence that its academic programs are working. Fresno State’s Kyle Young is shown above. coordinator can look at them and decide whether these guys are going be able to graduate,” Rothenbuhler says.
system at home that’s going to push them through class, and that education’s important to the kid.”
According to Rothenbuhler, Bowling Green recruiters have already eliminated some prospects who might have been considered in the past. For other prospects, coaches are looking more carefully at their junior year in high school, thinking improved grades signal that the young player will get serious about schoolwork when he realizes he could earn a scholarship. They also inter-
For some Division I programs, the new APR system serves as a way to show the world they’re paying attention to academics. “It hasn’t changed recruiting for us. It’s given us a lot of credibility, though,” says Pat Hill, Head Football Coach at Fresno State. “There aren’t many state schools that have the academic record we do when everyone’s evaluated the same way.”
When the first APR scores came out, Fresno could point to its 939 score as proof of improvement. The Bulldogs ranked second in the Mountain West Conference and fourth among Division I programs in the west, so Hill welcomes a system for showing off the turnaround. “The APR is all about what you are doing to keep kids on track to graduation,” Hill says. “It’s accurate. It’s immediate. There are a lot of people who don’t like the APR because the numbers don’t favor them.”
Circle No. 108
ED THOMAS Aplington-Parkersburg (Iowa) High School Most small high schools would be thrilled to have just one player reach the NFL. Yet in Iowa, Aplington-Parkersburg High School enrolls just 280 students and is the alma mater of four current NFL players—Casey Wiegmann of the Kansas City Chiefs, Jared DeVries of the Detroit Lions, Brad Meester of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Aaron Kampman of the Green Bay Packers. All four are linemen who played for Head Coach Ed Thomas. Thomas entered the 2005 season with a record of 257-80 in 33 years, including two state titles (1993, 2001) and four state runner-up finishes. He began his career in 1972 at Northeast Hamilton High School in Blairsburg, Iowa, and moved to Parkersburg High School in 1975. When
Parkersburg’s school system merged with neighboring Aplington’s in 1992, he was named head coach of the joint football program. Thomas has twice been named Iowa Class 1A Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the 2003 NFL High School Coach of the Year award. In 2004, he was honored as Coach of the Year for Leadership by the Iowa High School Athletic Directors Association. He has been on the Board of Directors of the Iowa Football Coaches Association (IFCA) for 26 years and served as its president in 1991. In this interview, Thomas talks about his program’s pro football alumni, developing leadership, and what he looks for in assistant coaches.
CM: What is it like to see four of your players reach the NFL? Thomas: Coming from a small high school in rural Iowa, it’s a great feeling to watch television on Sundays and see our players out there. In a close-knit, small community, everybody knows what’s going on, and it has created a real sense of pride in our school and our football program.
All four NFL players are linemen— what makes that such a strong position in your program? I’ve always thought football games start up front, both offensively and defensively, so we place a huge emphasis on line play at our school, and our kids take a lot of pride in that. In fact, I would say that three-quarters of our All-State players have been linemen.
I have one friend in town who has five TV sets in his living room and subscribes to NFL Sunday Ticket, so he can watch all four kids at once. During the football season, there are people over at his house all the time to watch them play.
We stress fundamentals from day one to the last game of the year. We run the same drills in the first week of practice as in the last week. We want our kids to get a lot of reps in, so by the time they’re juniors and seniors, they’ve gotten pretty
good at the various techniques we ask them to use. When those future pros were in your program, what did you notice that set them apart? They had athletic ability, of course— those kids were all great multi-sport athletes at our school—but they also had an inner drive and a tremendous work ethic. We’ve had other kids with tremendous work ethics, but those four combined it with a special ability to elevate their game every day. They consistently made themselves better, and even in practice, you could see them progressing to another level.
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What do you hope your athletes will take away from playing in your program? I’ve always said my job is not to prepare our kids to be college athletes. My job is to make football a learning experience, and there are so many things they can learn from being a part of our team that will help them be successful later in life as a father, member of a church, or member of the community. There are so many intangibles we can teach that they can take with them.
Success begins up front for Ed Thomas, Head Coach at Aplington-Parkersburg (Iowa) High School. The Falcons have won two state titles and produced four NFL linemen.
How do you instill character and leadership skills in your players? I don’t have captains anymore—I went to a system of senior leaders. Around the end of February, I go over our senior leadership program with all of the next year’s senior football players and ask if they want to be involved. For seven weeks, I teach a morning leadership class to those who do. They are then responsible for the other players—whether it’s behavior, succeeding in the classroom, or
working in the weightroom, they provide leadership for our program. I decided to teach leadership because I think it’s something that isn’t present in kids as often as it used to be. We have to show kids how to be leaders today. What specific lessons do athletes learn in the leadership class? I talk about leaders setting an example, the responsibility of being a leader, and
the idea of being a servant and a giver. I talk about standing up to do what is right when nobody else will, and letting other players know when they’re doing something wrong. I also explain the importance of being a role model—that leaders have to set the tone for other players to follow. I talk about the respect that they have to gain with other young people. I tell them that everyone might not always like you, but you should act in such a way that they respect you.
You’re a member of the IFCA ethics committee. How do you define ethics as it relates to coaching? Ethics is doing what’s right. It’s following the rules, and teaching football the way it ought to be played. Ethics is teaching young people about sportsmanship and how to conduct themselves in a first-class fashion regardless of whether they win or lose. I tell our kids that we’re going to go out and play hard, and we want to win as much as anybody. But when the game
“I want [assistant coaches] who are enthusiastic, positive, and good teachers. To me, coaching is teaching. I want people who care about kids and want to help them be the very best they can, not only as football players but also as young men.“
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is over, we’re going to line up, shake hands, and be gentlemen, knowing that we did the very best we could. To me, that’s all part of ethics. What are some ethical problems you see among coaches today? I think sportsmanship is definitely one problem area. Young people should know how to conduct themselves on the field, in the community, and at school, and coaches need to set a consistent example. I think there are some programs that win but don’t know how to win in a first-class way. Some schools try to cheat during the off-season, ignoring what is not allowed by the state association to try to get an edge. Usually when people cheat, it’s going to catch up to them. And what kind of message are we sending to our young people if we bend the rules? Do coaches have a responsibility to act if they see other programs being unethical, or should each coach focus on his own program? First, you’d better make sure your own house is clean. But I think when you see things not being done ethically, you need to report that. On my football team, if we have kids doing what’s not right, that’s a reflection on our whole program. And if we have coaches doing what’s not right, that reflects on the coaching profession. I also think athletic directors don’t always take the time to go over
Q&A ethical guidelines with their coaches— especially young coaches coming out of college who might not fully understand the difference between the collegiate and high school levels. What do you look for in assistant coaches? I want people who are enthusiastic, positive, and good teachers. To me, coaching is teaching. I want people who care about kids and want to help them be the very best they can, not only as football players but also as young men. I don’t really care how much football knowledge they have—I can teach them what I want them to teach the players, so I want positive role models and great motivators.
What do you wish you had known when you started out as a coach? When I started coaching, I didn’t know anything. I have grown as a coach in the teaching aspect and understanding the importance of having a sequence to what you teach. We have a progression for things, like how we teach our offensive linemen to block, and how our defensive players should play their positions. When I started, I didn’t have a concept of that like I do today.
Another area is learning. I read books to find new ways to inject motivation into our program. If I were just starting out now, I would go look at successful coaches around the state. I would talk to those people and pick their brains about what they’re doing. Of all the things we do here, I don’t think there’s much that’s original. I’ve taken and borrowed from other programs and places. Young coaches should be out there observing and talking to winning coaches and learning why they’re successful.
Is it a bad thing that athletes are specializing in one sport at a younger age? Without question it’s a problem in high school athletics today, and it really does a disservice to young people. Parents and AAU people tell kids they’ve got to specialize if they’re going to get scholarships. But it’s not my job as a head coach to turn out scholarship athletes. If they’re good enough, that opportunity will come, but every program in a high school needs the good athletes to play. Maybe basketball is a kid’s first love, and if that’s the case, of course he’s going to
“When I started coaching, I didn’t know anything. I have grown as a coach in the teaching aspect and understanding the importance of having a sequence to what you teach. We have a progression for things, like how we teach our linemen to block.“ spend a little more time in that program, but he can still play football or run track. I want our football players to be threeor four-sport athletes, and our most successful players have been multi-sport athletes. I think sometimes young coaches can be kind of selfish, wanting the best athletes to themselves. I’ve learned over the years that it’s more important to get the kids into other programs, because competing is more important than anything else. Circle No. 110 COACHING MANAGEMENT
Every year hundreds of high school football players … with the desire and the ability to participate at the collegiate level are overlooked by college and university coaching staffs. Often athletes go unnoticed because they are members of a team which did not achieve a winning record, the athletes attend smaller, lower profile high schools and/or the athletes fail to effectively market their talents to the proper audience. Thus begins the Web site for a football combine aimed at high school players in the Midwest. With an admonition like that, it’s no wonder that such events are growing in popularity among high school football players nationwide. Student-athletes enamored with the possibility of continuing their football careers are increasingly turning to the combine as a central part of their self-promotion strategy. For college coaches, though, combines are a double-edged sword. The information they provide about high school prospects can be invaluable, but they have also added a new facet to recruiting—one with the potential to place a major strain on time and resources. As combines continue to proliferate across the country, some coaches feel they are reaching a critical mass where the costs are starting to outweigh the benefits. The NCAA is considering a proposal that would prohibit Division I coaches from attending combines and ban the events from Division I campuses. The idea is to keep coaches from feeling they have to be on the road every weekend watching one combine or another, and it has support among many coaches, who agree it’s time for the association to step in. However, these new rules won’t close down combines. Players will still run every sprint they can in hopes of getting noticed, and coaches will still want to know their times. So, why would college coaches seemingly want to bite the hand that feeds them? Should high school coaches promote specialized combine training to players? And how can high school coaches help their athletes navigate the maze of options that combines present? 18
College coaches love the information high school combines provide, but worry about the recruiting demands they create.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED/TOM DAHLIN
BY GREG SCHOLAND
COMBINES Instead of just talking about the problem, coaches are joining together to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.
Rules of Engagement In some ways the growth of combines is a chicken-and-egg scenario. Players feel the need to attend to be seen by the coaches they want to play for. Coaches feel the need to attend to be seen by the players they’re recruiting. Regardless of who started looking at whom first, some coaches believe this cycle is getting to be too much. “If some programs show up and others don’t, that can be noticed by athletes who want to know what schools are interested in them,” explains Grant Teaff, Executive Director of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA). “And certain combines will say to a coaching staff, ‘You’d better be there, because soand-so’s staff is going to be there.’ And they’ll tell players, ‘You need to come to our combine, because all these coaching staffs are going to be watching.’” Out of concern that this pressure will only get worse, the Big Ten submitted a proposal this summer that aims to take coaches out of the picture. NCAA Proposal 2005-151, which has the support of the Football Issues Committee, would prohibit Division I coaches from attending “any scholastic or nonscholastic activities devoted to agility, flexibility, speed, and strength tests for football prospective student-athletes” during the spring evaluation period. In its rationale, the Big Ten points to coaches and prospects feeling compelled “to participate/attend for the sake of impressing each other.” It also notes that by removing the pressure to attend combines, coaches can spend more time on campus with the studentathletes already in their program. Another major motivation is protecting coaches’ quality of life. “We’d like to give coaches a little breathing room from recruiting—it’s as simple as that,” says Mark Rudner, Big Ten Associate Commissioner and staff liaison to the conference’s football coaches. “The coaches feel like if they accept going to combines, then it is probably something they’ll eventually have to do every week.” Continued on page 22 Greg Scholand is an Assistant Editor at Coaching Management. He can be reached at: gs@MomentumMedia.com.
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Purdue University Head Coach Joe Tiller, chairman of the Big Ten’s football committee, says the conference’s coaches believe that any advantage they gain from attending combines is far outweighed by the toll—in time, money, and energy—that it takes on coaching staffs. “Our assistant coaches tell us it’s another reason they’re forced to be away from their families, especially because most combines are held over the weekend,” he says. “And you can still get the information from a combine even if you aren’t there.” Tiller believes that a rule barring coaches from combines could slow their expansion in general, relieving some pressure in the recruiting race for college programs and high school athletes alike. “The Big Ten coaches feel the events will be somewhat devalued if college coaches aren’t there,” he says. “We can’t tell anyone who wants to start up a combine that they can’t do it. But if we say that no coaches are ever going to be there, some of them might be more likely to think twice.” The proposal would also prohibit Division I institutions from hosting combines. There’s already an obvious promotional advantage for a school that welcomes a combine to its campus, and it would likely be heightened if no other schools were represented. It’s a benefit that
Jeff Jellison, President and Coordinator of the Indiana-based Hoosier Gridiron combine, acknowledges. “When I conduct my combine at a college, I’m bringing in a couple hundred kids to see the athletic facilities and the whole campus,” he says. “It might not even benefit the football program. Maybe a kid has never been there before, and when he attends the event and spends time on the campus he may decide he wants to go to school there.” Not surprisingly, combine operators like Jellison see potential negative impact from the new rules. “I think kids will be hurt more than college coaches if the college coaches can’t be there,” he says. “If it’s a reputable combine, the coaches are going to get the data either way. But the kids would miss out on a chance to make a really big impression on coaches who might be interested in them.” Nonetheless, the proposal has the unanimous support of Big Ten coaches and is also backed by the AFCA, which found in a poll of its members that about 90 percent favor the prohibitions. The NCAA Academics/Eligibility/ Compliance cabinet agrees with the motivation behind the proposal, but wants its scope expanded to all parts of the recruiting year. The Management Council will formally consider the measure in January, and if it successfully
passes through the NCAA legislative process, the new rules could take effect as early as Aug. 1, 2006. Being There So how much are coaches really giving up if they can’t go to combines? Or, more broadly, what is the upside of attending them? Answers vary from one coach to another. Some feel there is a strong benefit to attending combines to see prospects for themselves. This can be especially true outside of Division I-A, where recruiting is typically more regional and often based as much on potential as on existing abilities. At Division III Carthage College, Head Coach Tim Rucks says combines aren’t a central focus of his recruiting—he goes to only one or two a year—but part of the value for him is observing things that don’t show up in a letter or a stats summary. “A good recruiter, especially at the D-III level, has to look ahead, and seeing a kid in person can really tell you a lot,” Rucks says. “For one thing, you can look at the size of a player’s frame and see how he’s going to fill out. For example, when our starting right tackle was a senior in high school, he was just 200 pounds. If you just looked at the numbers, you wouldn’t say that anyone should recruit the guy. But we saw that
DRILLS AND MORE Combines serve a specific function in the evaluation of football athletes. For assessing performance in a set of basic skills, they are in essence a great equalizer—the SAT of athletics. In a sport where everyone’s success depends in part on somebody else, they offer a chance for an athlete to distinguish himself in individual tests of strength, speed, and agility. For that reason, while combines have sprung up independently throughout the country, their core activities and assessments are usually very similar. Most include the 40-yard dash as the basic speed test, and a vertical jump or broad jump is also standard. Agility and quickness are usually assessed with a timed cone drill, four-corner run, or shuttle run. For strength, athletes typically bench
press as many repetitions as possible at a given weight, with 185 pounds being the most common. Coaches viewing combine results typically see the outcomes of all these tests, along with each athlete’s age, height, and weight. Some combines also provide academic information. While most combines are built around the same core activities, that doesn’t mean they are identical. As they compete against each other for players and coaches, many have devised ways to distinguish themselves, and in so doing, offer more to their participants and interested recruiters. “We select the top 200 kids from our Junior Combine and invite them back to attend an elite combine the following month, where we put them through a number of football activities,” says Joe
Russo, President of the Maryland High School Football Coaches Association. “They’ll do passing and catching, oneon-one drills, run zone and man-to-man defenses, and other things that allow them to display their football abilities. We put it on digital video, and make it available to college programs.” The Indiana-based Hoosier Gridiron combine takes sport simulation a step further, with seven-on-seven scrimmages. “It gives the players another opportunity to demonstrate what they’ve got,” says Jeff Jellison, President and Coordinator. “Some kids can go into an event and test very well, but for some their real athleticism and skills show on the football field, not in a timed agility drill. The kids also really enjoy it—when the final whistle blows, they always ask to keep playing.”
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he had room to grow, and he’s now playing at 265 pounds for us as a junior.” Rucks says a good eye at a combine can also spot someone whose raw numbers belie greater potential. “A lot of high school kids don’t know how to do some of these tests, like a shuttle run, properly,” he says. “So their times are not always going to reflect their true abilities. You can watch them run a certain 40 time and say, well he’s really faster than that, he just has bad form.” Rucks also uses combines as an opportunity to assess intangibles—the character traits and attitude that make a great learner and a great teammate. Everything from how much an athlete hustles between stations to how he reacts after a particularly good or bad performance can offer clues. “How much
courses that help high school students look their best for admissions offices, a cottage industry of performance centers and personal trainers is helping student-athletes improve their 40 times and increase agility-drill proficiency. But is it a wise investment? “There are usually more than 100 kids at our combine who have gone to a personal trainer to improve their score,” says Joe Russo, President of the Maryland High School Football Coaches Association. The MHSFCA Junior Combine is billed as the largest high school combine in the country—more than 800 players attended last year. According to Russo, so many athletes invest in personal combine prep because they feel the event is one of their best chances to get noticed by
“When we started the Junior Combine in 1990, 11 football players in Maryland earned NCAA Division I scholarships ... Last year 132 kids received some kind of money for college, and 52 earned Division I scholarships.”
do they interact with other guys? How well do they interact with the coaches? Those things give you an idea of their personality,” Rucks explains. “Seeing their overall presence in a group situation can be really important.” At Purdue, Tiller and his staff use combines to learn more about athletes from far away, players they would otherwise have few, if any, opportunities to evaluate. “A combine can give you a chance to eyeball someone who you’re not otherwise going to be able to know as much about,” he says. “People know where the best kids are, but you’re going to know less about someone who’s far away, and combines can change that.” Training in Vain? Even if the NCAA rules are enacted, high school players will continue to invest time, money, and effort into preparation for the events. Just like the hundreds of SAT tutors and prep 24
coaches at the next level. “When we started the Junior Combine in 1990, 11 football players in Maryland earned NCAA Division I scholarships,” he says. “We have run it every year since then, and last year 132 kids received some kind of money for college, and 52 earned Division I scholarships.” Tony Soika, Owner and Operator of Sports Performance Advancement, a private training facility based in Appleton, Wis., has also noticed the trend. He estimates that 75 percent of the football players who train at his facility are looking to improve their combine numbers. As a result, a large part of his work with them focuses on the drills that have become standard combine fare. “Sometimes it’s a matter of teaching simple mechanics,” Soika explains. “In the 40-yard dash, for instance, a lot of football players aren’t used to starting
in a down position. So when they start their run, the first three or four steps feel awkward to them. Other kids won’t know the proper stance, so they will get into position with the wrong arm cocked back. It will take a split second to correct their mechanics once they begin running, but an eye blink is a quarter of a second.” Soika says it’s not uncommon for someone who does combine training to add several inches to their vertical, trim two or more tenths off their 40 time, and make dramatic bench press improvements. But, he points out, those gains don’t necessarily create better football players. And the athletes usually know it. “A lot of the players I work with see combines almost as a necessary evil—they want to train for them, and then they want their training to be completely different as soon as they’re over,” Soika says. “If I’m training someone to be a wide receiver, we work on things like mechanics, route running, core strength, and change of direction. When I have to stop that in order to improve their bench press, that does little to help them at their position.” Soika finds that in addition to being a distraction, too much focus on combines can sometimes interfere with football development. “I’ve got a serious I-AA prospect, and his dad recently asked me to train him to do better at an upcoming combine,” he says. “That means taking time out of his training as a quarterback, but it also means I’m building him up to do more reps on the bench. If a quarterback suddenly develops a bulked-up, muscular upper body, that can affect his throwing mechanics. “The more I turn him into a body builder, it’s almost like we’ll have to do damage control later on,” Soika continues. “When I’m training an athlete for a combine, I will make it clear to him and his family that my real goal is to make him a better football player. The day after the combine is over, we’ll forget all about it and train for his sport.” Combine Coaching While coaches and others may debate the value of specialized combine training, there is no doubt that many high school players boost their college football prospects through combine participation. But for a student-athlete
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who is taking a first look at the combine scene, knowing where and how to begin can be difficult. Among an athlete’s first priorities should be identifying which events are right for him, and this is an area where high school coaches should be ready to offer some guidance. Some combines welcome players from all over
the talent spectrum, while others are geared only toward elite athletes. If a player’s best shot for college football is at the Division III level, he may be best served attending several combines in his region—or the region where he would like to go to school—where Division III coaches will be. If he is a serious Division I prospect and already
has the attention of recruiters, he might only need to attend one elite combine to verify what scouts already know about his physical abilities and skills. If he’s somewhere in between, he might consider going both routes. Economics is another consideration. Teaff says that as combines continue to proliferate, some coaches are concerned
ne major reason for the growth of combines has been the demand by college coaches for objective data. To help ensure that coaches have a trustworthy, standardized profile of athletes from anywhere in the country, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) launched a set of uniform testing protocols in January called the National Athletic Testing System (NATS). Six state football coaches’ associations have partnered with NATS for their association-run combines. Combine officials are trained by NATS staff members to ensure that all tests are performed and measured according to the same standards, and all the
information from sanctioned events is fed into a nationwide database. “Our board of trustees wanted to standardize the testing of student-athletes so that a coach anywhere in the country could get credible, accurate information—whether it came from the East Coast, the Midwest, or the West Coast,” says Grant Teaff, Executive Director of the AFCA and Executive Advisor to the NATS Board of Review. “We sensed that there is an increasing number of combines out there, and not all of them are operating in a standard, reliable way that gives coaches what they really need.”
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about the potential for athletes to be exploited financially, spending a great deal of money to attend some events that offer little in return. Some combines cost less than $30 per entrant, while others charge more than twice that. There is no rule of thumb on how much is too much, so the best advice is simply to find out about a combine’s reputation and what it has to offer before signing up. “It’s a good idea to find out how long a combine has been around—whether it has established itself or whether it could be here today and gone tomorrow,” says Jellison. “Some combines don’t have an office or a number to call to reach someone who can answer questions. Just as importantly, they don’t have a number that college coaches can call to learn about the event.” Most critical is finding out how far a combine goes to make its results available to college programs. Ultimately, the ones that work hardest to put information in the hands of college recruiters are offering the most bang for a player’s buck.
Many combines, for instance, post their results on the Internet. National Athletic Testing System combines (see “Standard Measures” on page 26), go even further, feeding their results into a searchable nationwide database that can be accessed by any college program. Other combines have mailing lists of hundreds of college coaches who receive information about the combine beforehand and a complete packet of results afterward. In Perspective While combines have clearly changed the recruiting game, many veteran coaches agree that placing too much focus on them can be detrimental to an athlete’s overall development. It’s true that a great combine performance can make an athlete stand out to a college program, but it is important to view these events, and their relative value, in perspective. “My feeling has always been that a football program wants to recruit football athletes—not sprinters or weightlifters,” says Jim Collins, Head Coach at
Circle No. 116
Capital University, a Division III school whose conference’s recruiting rules prohibit coaches from attending combines. “There are some really key skills, like body control, hand-eye coordination, and game sense, that no combine could ever really show you. “Rather than spending time with a personal trainer, lifting for two hours, and then working on speed drills for another hour, I would rather have a well-rounded, multi-sport athlete who really knows how to compete,” he continues. “As for the skills you develop getting ready for a combine, I say we can always develop those things after we’ve got them in our program.” “Combines aren’t so important that an athlete should ever give up another sport to get ready for them,” agrees Rucks. “What can really get lost if you focus on raw numbers is the importance of being able to compete and be part of a team. I like people to play other sports. I like it because they’re getting coached every day, and I don’t think you can replace that.” ■
Circle No. 117
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Circle No. 118
Coaches and players are constantly looking for ways to maximize onfield performance. Extra sets in the weightroom and extra reps on the practice field have long been standard fare for helping players perform better. Now, specialized dinner menus and breakfast plans are being used the same way. Although often overlooked by teens who would rather stuff their faces with pizza and two-liter bottles of soda pop, proper nutrition is very important for football players and can help them in numerous ways, big and small. Because of the short bursts of energy required for football, eating enough carbohydrates is critical. Players who need to put on weight must learn to take in more calories than they burn, but they must be the right calories. And with only 10 to 12 games per season, each pregame meal takes on great importance.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT GETTY IMAGES (FOOTBALL IMAGE)
BY LESLIE BONCI
Even the best practice schedule or game plan can be sabotaged when players aren’t properly fueled for the rigors of football. By making sure team members know the right foods—and amounts— to eat throughout the week, coaches can ensure players always have the energy they need.
Emphasize Performance As a dietitian who has worked with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the past 12 years, several NCAA Division I and Division III teams, and high school athletes, I have found that the best way to talk to football players about this topic is to emphasize performance benefits over nutritional requirements. Whenever I provide advice or information, I talk about the edge that eating confers—its specific impact on strength, speed, stamina, and recovery. This resonates with athletes much more than talking about calorie counting or healthy eating. I also talk about taking responsibility for optimal body fueling. A player who comes to practice without having eaten breakfast or lunch, or skimps on fluid intake during a hot summer practice, is not going to reach his full potential— which ultimately affects the team. Leslie Bonci is Director of Sports Nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and serves as a consultant to the Pittsburgh Steelers, University of Pittsburgh athletics, and several area high schools.
However, at the same time, I also stress individual needs. Each player will have differing nutrient requirements based on body size, position, and individual food preferences. What works for
And I always link the suggestions to performance. I’ll say, “If you don’t eat breakfast, you will not have the energy to make the most of practice,” or “If you forego that second helping at dinner,
Each meal should look like a peace sign, with onethird of the plate as protein (red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt, dried beans, nuts, soy products), one-third as a starch (rice, pasta, potato) and one-third as fruits and vegetables. one player may not be the best strategy for someone else. Therefore, the trick is to give players guidelines that are clear, but not overly specific. I don’t insist they eat any one food. I give them a range of possible choices to fit their likes and lifestyles. When excess body fat seems to be hindering their speed and quickness, I start with simple advice: Decrease portions, but do not skip meals. Cut back on fats, not carbohydrates.
you will soon lose that excess weight and be able to move more quickly to make a tackle.” Carbs Are Key Football is a stop-and-go sport with short bursts of intense effort followed by rest. Therefore, the primary fuel for football is carbohydrate. Yet many players don’t get nearly enough carbohydrates. I’ve found the typical football player consumes a diet that is 43 per-
cent carbohydrate, 40 percent fat, and 17 percent protein. Most recently, with the low-carb phenomenon, players are eating even fewer carbs. The biggest problem is that most football players eat too much fat. If their weight is fine, most don’t think much about what they eat as long as the food is enjoyable. The problem is that fat does not supply the fuel needed to build muscles. It can also cause stomach cramping and indigestion. An ideal diet for football players derives 55 to 60 percent of its daily caloric intake from carbohydrates, 15 percent from protein, and 30 percent from fat. The way I translate these numbers to football players is that each meal should be two-thirds carbs and onethird protein, with an eye toward moderate fat. Each meal should look like a peace sign, with one-third of the plate as protein (red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt, dried beans, nuts, soy products), one-third as a starch (rice, pasta, potato) and one-third as fruits and vegetables.
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I emphasize carbohydrate-containing foods with lower fat content: bagels over doughnuts, mashed potatoes over fries, grilled chicken over fried, frozen yogurt over ice cream. I explain that raising the amount of carbohydrate in their diet will provide them with more available energy during practices and games. And eating fewer fried foods often decreases the chance of an upset stomach that can hinder performance. In many cases, it’s the lifestyle of high school and college-age athletes that wreaks havoc on their diets. To combat this, I provide some simple suggestions for trading their empty-calorie foods for performance-enhancing ones. Replace a cupcake with a piece of fruit. Forego the chicken wings for a piece of grilled fish. Snack on nuts instead of cheese curls (but do put them in a small bowl to avoid overeating). Alcohol consumption can be another problem in football players’ diets. When I talk to athletes about this, I simply present the facts. Alcohol can slow reaction time, increase the risk of dehy-
dration, cause an upset stomach, and delay recovery if consumed prior to replenishing fluid and carbohydrates. I also talk to players about postgame snacks. Many have heard that they need to consume a protein-carbohydrate mix for best recovery, but they’re unclear on what this means. So I give them specific food choices to ensure that they are getting the right proportions—which is six grams of protein and 35 grams of carbohydrates. Suggestions include peanut butter crackers, trail mix, yogurt with cereal, a bagel with cream cheese or peanut butter, or a sports bar containing the right mix of protein and carbs. I also explain that this snack should be consumed within 30 minutes after practice or a game for optimal benefit. Two-A-Day Time The most grueling and intensive training for football players takes place during preseason two-a-day practices. At this point, calorie needs may exceed 10,000 a day per player. Getting enough carbohydrates is key for optimal perfor-
mance and recovery. Hydration is critical for both performance and warding off heat-related illness. My recommendation is that football players begin working on hydration and fueling one month prior to training camp. Just like players need to get their muscles in shape for two-a-days, they also need to get their digestive tract in shape one month before training camp. This will help the body adjust more quickly to the demands of preseason, which will minimize injuries and maximize performance. To accomplish this, athletes should schedule beverages with every meal, as well as before, during, and after exercise. They should also practice drinking larger volumes before and during exercise—gulps instead of sips. In addition, athletes should get into the habit of regular eating, by having three meals a day plus a snack pre- and post-exercise. Have them aim to dedicate two-thirds of the plate to carbohydrates, and choose foods with higher water content such as fruits and vegetables.
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Circle No. 120 COACHING MANAGEMENT
Once two-a-days start, players should consume at least three meals per day with snacks in between. Skipping breakfast is not an option, especially when a player has an early morning practice or lifting session. For the athlete who is not overly hungry in the morning, a smoothie, yogurt, cereal and fruit, or even a sports drink and sports bar can be a lighter alternative. Adequate caloric intake is very important. Supporting a large, hard-exercising body can mean consuming a lot of food. That is okay. Players should not be trying to lose weight during this time. Carbohydrates must be the main fuel source. Players will not recover in time for the next practice unless they consume enough carbohydrate and
How do you make sure fluid intake is adequate? Begin by stressing the importance of drinking. Players should start their day with 16 ounces of fluid and make it a point to drink at every meal and before, during, and after practices. Explain that drinking fluids not only prevents heat-related illnesses but also helps them sustain performance. When practice is grueling, being fully hydrated will help them get through it. Here are some specifics for them to follow: ■ Drink 16 ounces of a sports drink one hour before exercise, as it takes one hour for one liter of fluid to leave the gut. ■ Drink 20 to 40 ounces of fluid (sports drink/water) per hour of practice. ■ Drink 24 ounces of fluid (based on
PREGAME MEAL MAKEOVER How do you turn a traditional pregame meal into something to enhance your players’ game performance? Consider this meal makeover: INSTEAD OF:
Big T-bone steaks
Filet or chicken
Tater tots or French fries
Oven-baked wedges/mashed potatoes
Pasta marinara with parmesan cheese
Soft serve or parfaits
Low-fat milk/sports drinks
Whole pieces of fruit
Cut up fruit
watch their protein intake. Excess protein will be stored as fat and may dehydrate the body. Sodium intake may need to be increased, especially for athletes with abnormally salty perspiration, to prevent cramping. “Salty sweaters” typically feel gritty or have white residue on their skin or uniform after exercise. Ask these players about their sodium intake, encourage sports drink consumption in addition to water, and recommend adding salt and condiments, such as Worcestershire or soy sauce, to foods on their plate. For the training camp rookie, it is important to remind him to eat and drink, even when he would rather nap. In addition, try to push a little more food at every meal. 34
recent studies) for every pound of body weight lost during exercise, immediately post exercise. ■ During practice, coaches must implement scheduled fluid breaks and make sure every athlete stops to rehydrate. Ideally, players should weigh themselves before and after practice and drink enough fluid to replace the lost weight. That is, 150 percent of the lost water weight should be consumed. For example, a player who loses five pounds (80 ounces) during a practice would need to drink 120 ounces of fluid to replace the water weight loss. Are sports drinks better than water? During two-a-days, sports drinks most likely provide an edge over water. Sports drinks provide necessary fluid, fuel, and
electrolytes during exercise, so they provide a great package deal. Gametime Meals Pregame meals have long been a bonding tradition for many football teams, but they should also be thought of as an important fueling component before a game. The best strategy is to choose lower-fat foods. Fats take longer to digest, so high-fat meals can leave the athlete with a full, heavy stomach and not enough energy to perform at his best. For example, when planning pregame breakfast meals, minimize higher fat items such as fried meats, fried potatoes, bacon, and sausage in favor of leaner proteins and carbohydrates such as bread, cereal, and toast. For afternoon pregame meals, choose grilled, baked, or broiled meats, tomato instead of cream sauce, low-fat milk, and baked or boiled instead of fried potatoes. I always encourage my players to stick with foods familiar to them for pregame meals. Experimenting with the way certain foods sit in the body should be done during the off-season. Some examples of good pregame meals include: ■ Turkey or ham subs, fruit salad, frozen yogurt ■ Eggs, waffles, ham, fruit ■ Pasta with red meat sauce, grilled chicken, salad, and fruit ■ Smoothie, cereal, fruit ■ For those who want steak, offer 8ounce cuts with plenty of carbohydrates on the side ■ For beverages, serve sports drinks, juices, and water. Postgame meals are also an important time for some teams. However, before the team sits down for the meal, they should begin refueling with fluids and carbohydrates immediately following the contest, in the form of sports drinks, pretzels, sports bars, or fruit. The postgame meal may have a higherfat option, such as fried chicken, steak, or a cheesesteak hoagie. This is usually the hungriest time for the players, especially those who don’t eat much before games. Some good options include: ■ Steak kebabs and rice ■ Salmon, green beans, and corn ■ Roast beef, mashed potatoes, and salad ■ Hamburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, fries, and juice.
Weight Issues If players need to lose or gain weight, they should not try to do so during the season. The focus of preseason and inseason training is to get ready for upcoming games. Attempting to lose or gain weight during this time takes energy away from in-season preparation. Losing or gaining weight should be a long-term project, takeing place over six months. Meet with players looking to change body composition during the off-season to set realistic goals, and, if possible, connect those players with a sports nutritionist who can help them develop a nutrition plan. It is essential to understand a playerâ€™s on-field goals before altering his diet. If a player needs to lose weight, focus on losing weight to move more quickly. If a player needs to gain weight, focus on gaining weight to be stronger. Some tips for weight loss in football players: â– Do not restrict carbs. â– Do not skip meals, but do decrease portion size. (It is usually not the pasta
that is the problem, but the size of the portion!) A little off the top at each meal works very well. For example, eat 12 chicken wings instead of 24, drink a 12ounce glass of juice instead of 20, or eat a 12-ounce steak instead of a 24-ouncer. â– Trim calories by cutting down on condiments and snacks. â– Many find it easier to lose weight by eating smaller, more frequent meals that are more evenly divided throughout the day, instead of three meals a day. â– Decrease calories from beverages by diluting juices, choosing diet soda or iced tea, and using smaller glasses. â– Include filling foods such as protein and food that need more chewing: vegetables, baked potato, meat, fruits. â– When eating fast food, choose regular instead of super-sized meals. â– Put snacks into a bowl instead of sitting down with the whole bag. For the player desiring to gain weight, the most important point is to be consistent, eating more calories every day. Some tips: â– Start a meal with food, not liquids, so
have the sandwich first, then the shake. â– Replace low- or no-calorie beverages with juice, lemonade, milk, and replace water with sports drinks. â– Try to eat one-quarter more at every meal and snack. â– Keep snacks around to nibble on. â– Add higher calorie foods to every meal: granola instead of sugared cereal. â– Add nuts to cereal or snacks. â– Eat bagels instead of bread. â– Add more protein, but only four ounces more a day, through food, not supplements. Choose cheese, low-fat lunch meats, an extra piece of chicken or fish, milk, and yogurt. To make the most of football playersâ€™ talents, encourage them to make nutrition a priority. Explain how nutritional suggestions lead to success on the field, and they will soon be analyzing their meals as diligently as they analyze game film! â– A version of this article previously appeared in Coaching Managementâ€™s sister publication, Training & Conditioning.
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Circle No. 122 COACHING MANAGEMENT
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Circle No. 124
BY GRAY COOK, HEATH HYLTON, & DAVID LEE
STRETCHING TO SCORE JIMMY DEFLIPPO/US PRESSWIRE
heyâ€™re a staple of almost every teamâ€™s practice routine. But it can be easy to overlook the opportunities presented by warmup periods. Rather than simply being a time for players to do some calisthenics and loosen up, this chunk of precious practice time can be used as an integral part of an effective strength program.
When a matter of inches means a difference of six points, players need all the flexibility and core strength they can muster. Consider using these partner core stretches during warmup sessions to reach every goal.
Recently, we were asked to create a series of exercises for a high school football team that could be accomplished during warmup and would make the most effective use of that limited time. In response, we created a group of core training partner exercises that can be done on the field with limited supervision. The focus of the exercises is on
strengthening the core, a key area for football players. A strong core enables both mobility and stability of the body and helps prevent injuries and muscle imbalance. Because core training is so important for football players, it must be continued throughout the season. Making these exercises a consistent part of the warmup maintains core strength through the very last game of the season.
Gray Cook is Clinic Director, Heath Hylton is Clinic Coordinator, and David Lee is Exercise Physiologist at Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy, Dunn, Cook, and Associates, in Danville, Va. Cook is also the author of Athletic Body in Balance, published by Human Kinetics. A special thanks to the Pittsylvania County (Va.) high school coaches for their continual support of and feedback on our programs.
It was also critical to design exercises based on functional movement patterns, not isolated muscle training. Football players will sometimes be skeptical about exercises that don’t involve weights, so it is important to explain to them that simply becoming stronger will not yield a better movement pattern. They must develop a combination of strength, stability, joint mobility, and muscular flexibility, which happens through functional drills. Why are core training partner exercises an effective use of time? First of all, by making them part of the warmup, we accomplish two goals at once. Often, time is wasted during the warmup as players loosen up and get ready for practice in a haphazard way. But this is valuable time that can contribute to the overall development of the athlete. This program gives structure and meaning to the first 10 to 15 minutes of on-field warmup activity.
They are also time-efficient because they use a partner system, which occupies all individuals on the field. While half of the players are doing the exercise, the other half are learning more about the exercise by helping their partner. This reduces distractions and cuts down on the level of supervision needed, as coaches only need to watch half the number of athletes performing a specific move. Partnering also provides a necessary break for the individual not performing the exercise. This is not to say that the other player is completely inactive. It is an active rest period where he must watch, participate, and pay close attention to detail. It is important for the non-stretching player to take an active role by supporting his active teammate and providing full attention and effort when supplying resistance. As a partner, he essentially assumes the role of assistant coach and should always be looking for opportu-
nities to provide feedback and technique modification. You should make it clear to the players that if a bad set is observed, it is the fault of the partner as much as the exercising athlete. It is important that both individuals feel ownership of the drill even though one will be working his muscles harder. In the following text, we describe several exercises that we developed for this program—all of which can be performed at varying degrees of difficulty. They are based on what we call the Functional Movement Screen™ and focus on movement patterns like the squat, hurdle step, lunge, push-up, and active straight-leg raise. These are the movements we feel help athletes most effectively elongate muscles and activate the core. One thing to note is the importance of matching players with partners of equal size, strength, and flexibility. This creates a fair level of competition and provides more consistent feedback between partners.
A) DEEP SQUAT SHOULDER STRETCH
Purpose: To improve deep squat and shoulder mobility movement patterns. Instructions: The deep squat shoulder stretch incorporates the mobility maneuver needed in the lower extremities to execute a deep squat with the heels flat. Since athletes have varying degrees of ability with a full deep squat, the partner stands with one leg supporting the low back and buttocks region and encourages the squatting athlete to lean forward as much as possible and then to erect the spine in an upright tall spine position. This will engage the core. Once a complete deep squat has been executed, the squatting athlete is cued to press the knees outward using his elbows to create an adductor stretch. He is told to hold the knees in this position and maintain this abducted position of the hips while reaching upward, first with the right arm and then with the left. The partner gives an upward pull or traction stretch and the athlete performing the stretch is encouraged not to let the knee cave in on the side of the stretching arm. Note: The arm is not pulled backward. It is pulled upward, thus creating a safe shoulder stretch for the lats and pecs.
B) HIP LIFT WITH PLYO LEG RAISE Purpose: To improve hurdle step and active straight-leg raise movement patterns. Instructions: The first athlete lies on his back with his head between the feet of his partner and holds the lower ankle and heel on each side. The athlete on the ground performs a bridge by lifting his buttocks with the knees in a 90 degree flexed position. He then extends one leg and lifts it in a straight-leg position coming backward toward the standing partner. As soon as the leg reaches its full range of motion, the partner pushes the leg downward in a brisk, shoving motion with one arm. The athlete slows down the lower extremity, changes direction, and brings it back upward again. This is done on each side. While performing this exercise, the athlete on the ground is instructed to maintain a hip lift position and not lose hip extension during the leg cycle lift activity.
Circle No. 125
C) HALF-KNEELING ROTATION MOBILITY AND STABILITY
Purpose: To improve lunge, rotary stability, and shoulder mobility movement patterns. Instructions: Both athletes get into a half-kneeling position with the left knee up. One person puts his arms in a “T” position with shoulders abducted 90 degrees. The partner then performs a mobility assist by rotating the first person’s shoulders left and right to 90 degrees while the athlete is instructed not to allow any rotation at the hips or pelvis. They are cued to stay as tall as possible and keep the hip of the back leg extended as much as possible throughout the stretch. The sequence is reversed and the other partner then performs the same stretch. Once both athletes have stretched in a left and right direction, the knee position is reversed. Next, the athletes get into a push-hands position in the center of their bodies and execute an isometric rotation into each other while stabilizing their hip and shoulder position and keeping the spine as tall as possible. They are told to push as hard as possible without losing balance and then to perform the same movement with the opposite hands. The half-kneeling position is then switched to the opposite knee.
D) STABILITY STRIDE Purpose: To improve hurdle step and trunk stability push-up movement patterns. Instructions: The athletes assume a wheelbarrow position where one athlete is in the push-up position and the other holds the partner’s ankles at the level of his hips with a slight knee bend. The supporting athlete can take a stride position to narrow his base and allow for easy cycling action of the legs. The athlete in pushup position cycles each leg, one at a time, toward his chest and back. He must maintain a flat back and a stable core with a head-up position and tuck the right hip as the supporter releases the ankle of the right leg. The athlete is instructed to bring his hip as close to his chest as possible followed by extending it back to the start position and quickly pulling the left leg into the same position.
The goal is smooth, quick leg speed while maintaining a stable trunk. The supporter is encouraged to use quick hand action to alternate supporting each leg as the active athlete goes through this stride position. Modifications: The athlete exercising can widen or narrow his hand position to change the level of difficulty or go to a prone-on-elbows position to reduce upper-body stress.
E) PLANK POSITION CRUNCH
Purpose: To improve trunk stability and push-up shoulder mobility movement patterns. This exercise serves to demonstrate to athletes that the spine has both stabilizing and mobilizing roles. The muscles of the spine can either hold the trunk stable or create a curl or twist action. Instructions: . One athlete assumes a push-up position (plank position) with the other athlete lying across his back perpendicularly. The athlete on top is instructed to do crunches in the same fashion he would do over a stability ball (full flexion and extension). Modifications: The athlete in the support position holding his push-up position can modify his position if he becomes weak by going to a quadruped position.
F) EXTENSION PRESS Purpose: To improve rotary stability and shoulder mobility movement patterns. Instructions: One athlete sits with his arms supporting him from behind and lifts the legs so that the supporting athlete can hold both the ankles in a quarter-squat position. The athlete on the ground is instructed to press the hips upward until the spine is as straight as possible and to keep the chest up and shoulders back. Modifications: The athlete doing the press can go to an “on elbows” position to reduce arm and shoulder stress.
The Only Sled You Must Drive Before Leveraging Fit–Drive–Extension–Finish
Like Three Sleds In One
Whether on offense or defense, the player utilizing the power of leverage realizes success. Master the skill of reversing the momentum of the opponent prior to rolling the hips and lifting him. Hit the pad and overcome its resistance. Only after the spring is compressed six inches or more, does the Rogers Lev Sled unlock. Then roll the hips and lift the pad.
To practice drive and shoulder blocking, lock the top in the down position (no tools are required). You can drill both leverage blocking and drive blocking during the same practice. Call for pricing, free catalog and our latest free Training DVD. (800) 248-0270. Visit us on the web at www.rogersathletic.com
The Lev Sled drills leverage blocking better than any other sled on the market. the Lev Sled is also like having three sleds in one! The sled is completely modular so that a 7-man Lev Sled can be quickly converted into 5-man and 2-man sleds. Changes are made easily with two wrenches, simply remove the link tube that connects the stations you want to separate.
RO G E RS AT H L ET I C COM PA N Y 3760 W. Ludington Drive • Farwell, Michigan 48622 • www.rogersathletic.com phone (989) 386-2950 • toll free (800) 248-0270 • toll free fax (888) 549-9659
Circle No. 126
G) SIDE BEND SHOULDER STABILITY
Purpose: To improve rotary stability, shoulder mobility, and trunk stability push-up movement patterns. Instructions: The athlete performing the exercise assumes a side-lying position on the elbow with the forearm flat and palm down. The partner assumes a quarter-squat position holding the ankles. The athlete on the ground is instructed to elevate the hips up and through until an erect and straight spine can be observed. This move is performed both on the left and right sides. Modifications: The athlete doing the side bend can stabilize with the top arm by gripping the wrist on the ground. This will reduce the natural shoulder twist that occurs with the move.
H) TRUNK STABILITY SHOULDER PRESS Purpose: To improve stability push-up, rotary stability, shoulder mobility, and deep squat movement patterns. This also provides a double quadriceps stretch for the partner. Instructions: One athlete holds a push-up position while his partner places that athleteâ€™s ankles on his shoulders while in a tall kneeling position. The supporting athlete keeps the hips as far forward as possible, getting a slight anterior thigh stretch, and then performs a shoulder press holding the ankles of the athlete in push-up position. The athlete in push-up position is instructed to keep a straight and erect spine throughout the entire movement. â–
A version of this article previously appeared in Coaching Managementâ€™s sister publication, Training & Conditioning. For more information on the Functional Movement Screenâ„˘, go to our Web site at: www.AthleticSearch.com and type â€œweak linksâ€? in the search window.
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