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Preparation for HS Football, Part 2 - 12/13/2011


Dr. Ken Leistner
One of the truths for most high school strength training programs is that there is rarely “enough” time, supervision, physical space, and/or equipment to adequately train each member or prospective member of the team. There are high school weight training palaces that are equipped with a wider selection and higher quality equipment than many collegiate or NFL weight rooms. Some have a full time strength coach who might also serve as a weight training and health subject matter teacher and included on their own staff are often unpaid interns, the equivalent of college graduate assistants, in the form of interns from an area university. Closer to the norm is the high school head or assistant coach who achieved success in his own playing career because he worked hard in the weight room, enjoyed the training regimen, has a strong interest in that area of preparation, and is willing to “double up” and include the weight room instruction and supervision as part of his football related responsibilities. He may be forced to be the only on-site coach available during most or all sessions and invariably there are always choices to be made regarding which equipment can be purchased on a limited budget and what will actually fit into a room that will always be too small for the needs and wants of the coaching staff.
As noted in Part One of this LEGEND UNIVERSITY series, it is rather easy to attempt to copy a successful program. At a recent coaches’ clinic at Michigan State University, attendees had the fortunate opportunity of hearing MSU Head Strength And Conditioning Coach Ken Mannie explain the philosophy behind the Spartans program, observe a number of the fine football players there demonstrate some of the exercises and procedures that are usually done, and watch Baltimore Ravens S&C Coach Bob Rogucki take a few of the MSU players through one of the Ravens actual programs. One of the points that was repeated by both Coaches Mannie and Rogucki was that this is what they do and while the application of similar movements or the organizational aspects of the program could be valuable, any high school coach must analyze the true effectiveness of what is implemented. Few high schools have the array of equipment that MSU, the Ravens, or other “big time” programs have. Few have the staffs that consist of a head strength coach, one or more assistants, graduate assistants, and perhaps interns. Thus the high school coach, at least those coaches in the most typical of situations, has to pick and choose carefully in order to construct and then administrate the most effective program possible for their specific situation. The insight of these two coaches compelled them to reference this a number of times while instructing the clinic attendees. In a training facility with thirty power or half racks, literally 100,000 pounds of plates, at least sixty to eighty Olympic or power bars loaded and on the racks or floor ready to go, benches, inclined benches, utility benches, multiple sets of dumbbells ranging from five to two hundred pounds, and a multitude of machines, glute-ham benches, and reverse back pieces, almost any of us with a modicum of training experience could no doubt construct, orchestrate, and serve our student athletes with programs that would fulfill every rehabilitation and training need one could ever think of.
For the “typical high school strength coach,” read the above and now walk into your training area and view the one pair of squat racks, the one power rack, two Olympic bench presses, the makeshift plywood platform, and the leg extension-leg curl unit that was salvaged from the Universal Machine that was tossed out fourteen years ago. It is a different reality and the one most of us deal with, yet we have to train our young, eager players with the same seriousness of purpose and dedication that the major colleges do. Because the less mature high school body is more prone to injury, we in fact must do an even better, more comprehensive job and obviously do it with a lot less. It can be done.

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