Development of Division 1 Football

TAGS: martin, division one, physical, assessment, mental, flexibility, football, athlete, strength, Nutrition

We believe the initial year in our program is the most critical to an athletes’ over all development. During this period, the strength and conditioning staff must implement the foundation for development. Generally, incoming freshman can be and usually are a train wreck, both physically and mentally. Freshmen usually enter a program ill-prepared to meet the demands of a rigorous football season.

The most common problems we see in our incoming freshmen are weaknesses in core and posterior strength, inabilities to perform movements without resistance, lack of flexibility, and poor nutritional habits. These factors play a critical role in determining whether or not to red-shirt the athlete in his first year.

Assessment

The first few days on campus can be the most stressful time for freshman. They must report to the coaches, get checked into their dorms, meet with administrators and medical personnel, and above all, get acclimated to a new environment. During this period, we must also obtain an accurate account of each athlete’s preparedness levels.

We adhere to a four step process in our initial assessment for all freshman athletes (Table 1). The goal of this process is to identify weaknesses, potential for injury, and the physical needs of each athlete. The data compiled is used as one factor in determining if the athlete will be red-shirted.

Once all the data has been collected from the assessment process, it is then presented to the sport coaches. We keep on record the scores of previous classes to compare the results. This aids in forming an opinion about where the current class ranks among previous freshmen who have entered our program. All of this data is used in conjunction with the sport coaches’ evaluations of on-field performance during fall camp. At the conclusion of fall camp, the decision is made to classify the athlete as a red-shirt.

Table 1. Assessment Process
1. Medical evaluation, performed by medical staff
a. Head-to-toe screening of all joints, checking stability
b. Evaluate previous injuries
c. Identify potential for injury
2. Functional movement screen, performed by strength staff
a. Evaluate symmetry throughout the body
b. Identify weaknesses
c. Identify potential for injury
3. Nutritional screen, performed by strength staff
a. Perform body weight and body composition tests
b. Identify athletes for weight gain
c. Identify athletes for fat loss
4. Performance tests, performed by strength staff
a. 225 bench rep test
b. Vertical jump
c. Pro agility

Development, phase 1 (three weeks)
Now that the athlete has been classified as a red-shirt, the development process must be formulated. Our initial phase is a three-week training block focusing on body weight movements and techniques used in our core lifts (bench, squat, and hang clean). The primary goals are to increase work capacity, acclimate the athlete to working in the weight room, and teach proper
technique (Table 2). Extra work is individualized to target weaknesses as identified through the assessment process (see Table 1).

It must also be noted that during this period, the athlete must also follow our in-season practice schedule (Table 3). During this period, there must be a balance between developing the athlete while not taking away from his participation in practice.

Table 2. Phase 1 (three weeks, three days/week)
Day 1: Sunday
a. Dynamic warm-up/abs/front bridge
b. Three-minute stations
1) Manual resistance neck, front/back
2) Internal/external rotation
3) Reverse hypers
4) Jump rope
c. Four-minute stations (work 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds with partner)
1) Push-ups with blast straps
2) Pull-ups
3) Manual resistance contra-lateral raise
4) Rear fly with blast strap
d. Bench technique
e. Extra work (individualized)

Day 2: Monday
a. Dynamic warm-up/abs/front bridge
b. Three-minute stations
1) Manual resistance neck, lateral
2) TKE
3) Back extensions
4) Jump rope
c. Four-minute stations (work 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds with partner)
1) Vest step-up
2) Glute ham raise
3) Vest front lunge
4) Manual resistance adduction
d. Squat technique
e. Extra work (individualized

Day 3: Thursday
a. Dynamic warm-up/abs/front bridge
b. Three-minute stations
1) Manual resistance neck, four way
2) Hurdle mobility, over/under
3) Reverse hypers
4) Jump rope
c. Four-minute stations (work 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds with partner)
1) Vest reverse lunge
2) Bar push-up
3) Glute ham raise
4) Strap pull
d. Clean progression technique
e. Extra work (individualized)

Table 3. In-season practice plan for red-shirts
Sunday: Watch film, lift, and conditioning
Monday: Lift, no practice
Tuesday: Intensive practice and conditioning
Wednesday: Intensive practice and conditioning (additional lift day begins in week 4)
Thursday: Lift, light practice
Friday: Off
Saturday: Off

Development, phase 2 (four weeks)
During phase two, lifting is increased to four times per week. The program now includes traditional strength building movements while maintaining a focus on body weight movements. We are still working on increasing work capacity and stressing proper technique (Table 4). Extra work is individualized to target weaknesses as identified through the assessment process (see Table 1).

Table 4. Phase 2 (four weeks, four days/week)
Day 1: Sunday
a. Dynamic warm up/abs/modified front bridge
b. Manual resistance four way neck
c. Bench
d. Dumbbell row
e. Barbell shrug
f. Side/rear raise
g. Band back extensions
h. Body weight circuit
1) Push-ups
2) Pull-ups
3) Dips
4) Grippers
i. Extra work (individualized)

Day 2: Monday
a. Dynamic warm up/abs/modified front bridge
b. Box squat
c. Dumbbell single-leg Romanian deadlift
d. Manual resistance abduction/adduction
e. Manual resistance hip flexion
f. Dumbbell back extension
g. Body weight circuit
1) Vest box squat
2) Bulgarian split squat
3) Glute ham raise
4) Calf raise
h. Extra work (individualized)

Day 3: Wednesday
a. Dynamic warm up/abs/side bridge
b. Four way neck
c. Dumbbell incline
d. Narrow lat pull
e. Barbell upright row
f. Rear raise
g. Reverse hypers
h. Body weight circuit
1) Push-ups

2) Pull-ups
3) Dips
4) Grippers
i. Extra work (individualized)

Day 4: Thursday
a. Dynamic warm up/abs/front bridge
b. Hang clean
c. Barbell Romanian deadlift
d. Manual resistance abduction/adduction
e. Manual resistance hip flexion
f. Dumbbell back extension
g. Body weight circuit
1) Vest box squat
2) Bulgarian split squat
3) Glute ham raise
4) Calf raise
h. Extra work (individualized)

Development, phase 3 (six weeks)
During phase three, lifting is maintained at four times per week. The emphasis now shifts to placing a greater importance on the development of traditional strength. Body weight movements have been removed from the program, and a greater focus is placed upon improving the core lifts. We are still working on increasing work capacity and stressing proper technique (Table 5). Extra work is individualized to target weaknesses as identified through the assessment process (see Table 1).

Table 5. Phase 3 (six weeks, four days/week)
Day 1: Sunday
a. Dynamic warm up/abs/modified front bridge
b. Manual resistance four way neck
c. Bench
d. Seated row
e. Dumbbell shrug
f. Contra-lateral raise
g. Rolling dumbbell extensions
h. Barbell curl
i. Band back extensions
j. Shoulder pre-habilitation
k. Extra work (individualized)

Day 2: Monday
a. Dynamic warm up/abs/back bridge
b. Box squat
c. Dumbbell glute ham
d. Dumbbell Romanian deadlift with reverse lunge
e. Manual resistance abduction/adduction
f. Manual resistance hip flexion
g. Dumbbell back extension
h. Knee pre-habilitation
i. Extra work (individualized)

Day 3: Wednesday
a. Dynamic warm up/abs/side bridge
b. Four way neck
c. Barbell incline
d. Reverse lat pull
e. Dumbbell upright row
f. Rear raise with strap
g. Reverse hypers
h. Shoulder pre-habilitation
i. Extra work (individualized)

Day 4: Thursday
a. Dynamic warm up/abs/front bridge
b. Hang clean
c. Dumbbell step-up
d. Barbell Romanian deadlift
e. Manual resistance abduction/adduction
f. Manual resistance hip flexion
g. Dumbbell back extension
h. Ankle pre-habilitation
i. Extra work (individualized)

Transitional post-season (six weeks, 1–2 weeks off post-season)
The transitional period designates the time between the traditional season and the off-season. During this block of training we eliminate all barbell exercises and the focus returns to body weight movements (see table 2). Lifting is reduced to three times per week with two cardio session performed on non-lifting days.

We do this for three reasons:

  • to allow the athlete to recuperate from the stresses of in-season practices
  • to provide a recovery period from heavy lifting
  • to prepare for the next training phase

Off-season, winter (nine weeks)
The training to this point has prepared the athlete for our off-season program. The goal of this period is to increase traditional strength and continue to work on weaknesses. Lifting will be done four times per week, with three running sessions per week. Programming is done in three-week training blocks using linear periodization. Supplemental exercises are rotated during each block of training (Table 6).

Table 6. Winter block 1 (three weeks, four days/week)
Day 1: Monday
a. Dynamic warm up/abs/modified front bridge
b. Manual resistance four way neck
c. Football bar bench
d. Hammer row
e. Barbell shrug
f. Side/rear raise
g. Tate press with band extension
h. Dumbbell curl
i. Band back extensions
j. Shoulder pre-habilitation
k. Extra work (individualized)

Day 2: Tuesday
a. Dynamic warm up/weighted abs/back bridge
b. Hip mobility circuit
c. Box squat
d. Glute ham raise
e. Dumbbell single leg Romanian deadlift
f. Manual resistance abduction/adduction
g. Manual resistance hip flexion
h. Dumbbell back extension
i. Knee pre-habilitation
j. Extra work (individualized)

Day 3: Thursday
a. Dynamic warm up/abs/side bridge
b. Four way neck
c. Dumbbell incline
d. Pull-ups
e. Strap press
f. A frame lat pull
g. Barbell upright row
h. Reverse hypers
i. Shoulder pre-habilitation
j. Extra work (individualized)

Day 4: Friday
a. Dynamic warm up/weighted abs/front bridge
b. Hip mobility circuit
c. Hang clean
d. Barbell front lunge
e. Single leg squat
f. Romanian deadlift
g. Negative glute ham
h. Dumbbell back extension
i. Ankle pre-habilitation
j. Extra work (individualized)

Table 6. Winter block 2 (three weeks, four days/week)
Day 1: Monday
a. Dynamic warm up/abs/modified front bridge
b. Manual resistance four way neck
c. Bench
d. Seated row
e. Dumbbell shrug
f. Three way shoulder
g. Extensions
h. Band curl
i. Band back extensions
j. Shoulder pre-habilitation
k. Extra work (individualized)

Day 2: Tuesday
a. Dynamic warm up/weighted abs/back bridge
b. Hip mobility circuit
c. Box squat
d. Dumbbell glute ham raise
e. Dumbbell Romanian deadlift with front lunge
f. Manual resistance abduction/adduction
g. Manual resistance hip flexion
h. Dumbbell back extension
i. Knee pre-habilitation
j. Extra work (individualized)

Day 3: Thursday
a. Dynamic warm up/abs/side bridge
b. Four way neck
c. Swiss ball dumbbell bench
d. Wide lat pull
e. Plyo push-up
f. Face pulls
g. Dumbbell upright row
h. Reverse hypers
i. Shoulder pre-habilitation
j. Extra work (individualized)

Day 4: Friday
a. Dynamic warm up/weighted abs/front bridge
b. Hip mobility circuit
c. Squat clean
d. Speed squat
e. Dumbbell Bulgarian split squat
f. Romanian deadlift
g. Dumbbell back extension
h. Ankle pre-habilitation
i. Extra work (individualized)

Table 6. Winter block 3 (three weeks, four days/week)
Day 1: Monday
a. Dynamic warm up/abs/modified front bridge
b. Manual resistance four way neck
c. Bench
d. T-bar row
e. Barbell shrug
f. Contra-lateral raise
g. Rolling extension
h. Barbell curl
i. Band back extensions
j. Shoulder pre-habilitation
k. Extra work (individualized)

Day 2: Tuesday
a. Dynamic warm up/weighted abs/back bridge
b. Hip mobility circuit
c. Box squat
d. Dumbbell glute ham raise
e. Dumbbell Romanian deadlift with back-up lunge
f. Manual resistance abduction/adduction
g. Manual resistance hip flexion
h. Dumbbell back extension
i. Knee pre-habilitation
j. Extra work (individualized)

Day 3: Thursday
a. Dynamic warm-up/abs/side bridge
b. Four way neck
c. Barbell incline
d. Reverse lat pull
e. Strap press with bands
f. Rear raise with strap
g. Barbell upright row
h. Reverse hypers
i. Shoulder pre-habilitation
j. Extra work (individualized)

Day 4: Friday
a. Dynamic warm up/weighted abs/front bridge
b. Hip mobility circuit
c. Plyo circuit
d. Hang clean
e. Barbell reverse lunge
f. Romanian deadlift
g. Dumbbell back extension
h. Ankle pre-habilitation
i. Extra work (individualized)

Spring ball (four weeks)
During spring ball, we reduce lifting to three times per week. We follow an upper/lower/total body split due to the practice demands during the week. Practice days are Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday with lifting taking place on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. The goal during spring ball is to maintain strength gained up to this point (Table 7). This is an intensive practice period, and we must accommodate for those demands in the athletes’ training.

Table 7. Spring ball (four weeks, three days/week)
Day 1: Monday
a. Dynamic warm up/abs/front bridge
b. Manual resistance four way neck
c. Football bar bench
d. Dumbbell floor press
e. Seated row
f. Barbell shrug
g. Reverse hypers
h. Shoulder pre-habilitation
i. Extra work (individualized)

Day 2: Tuesday
a. Dynamic warm up/abs/side bridge
b. Hip mobility circuit
c. Box squat
d. Glute ham raise
e. Dumbbell Bulgarian split squat
f. Manual resistance abduction/adduction
g. Manual resistance hip flexion
h. Band back extension
i. Knee pre-habilitation
j. Extra work (individualized)

Day 3: Thursday
a. Dynamic warm up/abs/modified front bridge
b. Four way neck
c. Clean pull and hang clean
d. Romanian deadlift
e. Barbell incline
f. Pull-ups
g. Dumbbell upright row
h. Dumbbell back extension
i. Ankle pre-habilitation
j. Extra work (individualized)

The conclusion of spring ball marks the end of the training year for our red-shirts. At this point, each athlete is evaluated to determine the direction of their second year of training. This evaluation process addresses four areas:

  • proficiency of technique in our core lifts
  • strength level obtained in relation to their initial assessment
  • improved performance in identified weak areas
  • body composition

The evaluation process dictates which level of training they will enter. Level 1 (gold) is our beginner program (discussed in this article). Level 2 (blue) is a combination of Western periodization and conjugate/concurrent sequencing, and level 3 (white) is the conjugate/concurrent sequencing. Advancement into the next level of training is not set in stone but is a result of each athlete’s individual needs and progress.

As this article illustrates, our level 1 program is very basic and is focused on increasing work capacity while emphasizing proper technique. We have had good success in developing our red-shirts following this style of programming. We feel that the initial year of training is the most critical time in their development. It is during this time that proper technique and basic motor functions must be instilled for development over the next four years of training.

References

  1. Zatsiorsky VM (1995) Science and Practice of Strength Training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
  2. Cook Gray (2003) Athletic Body in Balance. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
  3. Coach X, GPP Training Manual. Elite Fitness.
  4. Simmons L (2002) General Physical Preparedness. Accessed at: http://www.westside-barbell.com.
  5. Simmons L (2001) Organization of Training, Part 1. Accessed at: http://www.westside-barbell.com.
  6. Simmons L (2001) Organization of Training, Part 2. Accessed at: http://www.westside-barbell.com.
  7. Verkoshansky V (1988) Programming and Organization of Sports Training. Livonia, MI: Sportiviny Press.
  8. Siff M (2000) Supertraining. Denver, CO: Supertraining International.

Ryan Martin is a strength and conditioning coordinator at Hofstra University. He was previously the head strength and conditioning coach at Davidson College. For more information on Ryan, please contact him at ryan.m.martin@hofstra.edu.

Elite Fitness Systems strives to be a recognized leader in the strength training industry by providing the highest quality strength training products and services while providing the highest level of customer service in the industry. For the best training equipment, information, and accessories, visit us at www.EliteFTS.com.

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