This article is from Buddy Morris' presentation at the 2015 elitefts Sports Performance Training Summit. 

Here's our mission statement at the Arizona Cardinals for our athletes: It is our job as physical preparation coaches to help our athletes achieve a higher level of physical performance using methods and means. When I say means, I’m referring to exercises that yield the highest possible results at the lowest cost. High reward, low cost is win/win every time, is it not?

I am famous for not Olympic lifting. Disagree? Shoot me. If you want to Olympic lift, Olympic lift. That is your decision as a coach. Don't let me influence it. I'm just telling you what I've done and what has worked for me. I don't feel comfortable teaching Olympic lifts, because everywhere I go, all I see from an athlete trying to clean is a back extension with a reverse curl. And then everyone puts straps around it and makes it even look worse.

Charlie Francis told me a long time ago, “if it don't look right, it don't fly right.” There are many ways to achieve triple extension. James Smith said it best: “many roads lead to Rome.” I add one more thing to that: nothing is set in stone. Even the stuff that is set in stone, the 10 commandments, we break them everyday. The problem is that this dogma made it in your brain because people say it is the only way to achieve an end result. No, it's not. There are many ways to achieve an end result. Can you think outside the box or are you that lemming that follows everybody else off of the cliff because you don't want to get out of the status quo? You don't want to question the status quo?

I'm not here to tell you how to train. I'm just here to show you a system I've evolved over 35 years of doing this that has worked for me. Don't get me wrong, I've made mistakes. I'll be the first to tell you I have made mistakes. When I first learned Westside method, I made the mistake of trying to max out my guys for three weeks in a row. It killed them. Finally my brain realized, “Gee, that third week we're getting fucking crushed. Do you think it's a good idea to cut the third week out and only go two weeks?”

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Then I figured out that not every position on the team has to do max effort work. As you get closer to the ball, you are more strength-dominant by default. The further away you get form the ball, the less strength dominant and more speed dominant. Does that mean my speed guys and guys furthest away from the ball don't lift? I didn't say that. Does that mean my guys up front just lift weights and never run? I didn't say that either. The volume of work in each specific area is relative to the position that they play.


I never could understand why someone would choose to train a defensive back like an offensive lineman. That's a cookie cutter program. It doesn't take a genius to run a cookie cutter program. It doesn't take a genius to say, “I'm old school.” You know what old school is? It’s an excuse for being lazy and not wanting to learn. As a staff, we spend a considerable amount of time reading and researching the most productive way to train our athletes. I make my entire staff spend one day every week away from our athletes doing research

That's all we do: research and read. That's a requirement if you are going to work for me. You must research. You must present something to all of us as a staff. Every time I have interviewed with a head coach I have been asked about my philosophy. What’s my philosophy? I don’t have one.

Philosophies are for philosophers. I have a system that has evolved over 35 years and that system is constantly evolving and constantly expanding and constantly ongoing the more I learn. Every day, someone might tell me something I don’t know that I can apply. I have a system, not a philosophy.

Here are the goals of training in that system.

Number one: increase the biological output of the organism. To improve the working ability of all the body systems as a whole. No system in the human body works independently of the other systems. In fact, one thing you will learn from reading Hans Selye's The Stress of Life is that we really don't die from natural causes. We die from other systems not being able to compensate for the system that has shut down and not continue to work.

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The second goal of the system is to increase the force and power output of the competitive exercises, activity, or movement. How you choose to do that is specific for you as a coach, but in my system I prefer throwing medicine balls and doing jumps. If you look at a motor involvement or activation chart that shows plyometric jumps and maximal effort sprints, you’ll see that they are no different than Olympic lifts. What’s easier to teach? What am I going to get the most bang for my buck out of, especially for guys who are beat up?

Football is a game of repeated accelerations. We run a true speed program at the Arizona Cardinals. There is no 300-yard shuttle in football. Charlie Francis once said that zero to seven seconds is all free energy. You could even expand that envelope, as David Patterson says, up to nine seconds. Why would you do 300-yard shuttles? This is not foundation word. It isn’t a bio-energetic demand of the sport.

But this is in my system. We all have our own systems. We all have our own ways of doing things. What you need to understand is that between all of us, there are common denominators. Look for the common denominators of what people do. Great coaches don’t always mimic each other. The greatest athletes in the world have achieved those levels by doing different things but always sharing common denominators. There are bio-mechanical and physiological truths that we all adhere to.

WATCH: Buddy Morris's Physical Preparation for Football

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