2010-07-28 / Sports

Raising the Bar

Hard work, big results
By LARRY HILLIARD Ledger Sports Editor larry@gaffneyledger.com

Gaffney High offensive lineman Clay McKowen and the rest of his teammates have benefited from the demanding offseason strength and conditioning program designed by coach Tony Smith. Gaffney High offensive lineman Clay McKowen and the rest of his teammates have benefited from the demanding offseason strength and conditioning program designed by coach Tony Smith. Committed — or crazy.

No matter how demanding (and the programs can get pretty demanding), football players and coaches routinely cite their offseason conditioning program as the foundation for a successful season.

The Gaffney High football team’s offseason program was designed by the school’s strength and conditioning coach, Tony Smith. Though each player’s weight lifting routine is tailored specifically for his needs, the program consists of traditional weight training, field work and cardiovascular exercises to increase the players’ speed and turn fatty tissue into lean muscle mass.

The offseason program actually began in January with the focus on strength building. In April, the focus shifted to speed in preparation for spring practice.

Tweaked-up intensity seems to be the theme of the Indians’ summer program.

“The summer is different. We are adding more conditioning and running,” Smith said. “We have six weeks to get ready to do 2-a-days and we need to get in the best shape possible”

The game of football is played in a series of short quick bursts, so Smith designed workouts to enhance those attributes in his players.

In addition to passing leagues and evening skill development sessions, the players have daily workouts Monday through Thursday.

As Smith puts it, “We want to build powerful athletes.”

On Mondays, the emphasis is to improve the players’ speed.

After some plyometric exercises and resistance training, the players must endure up to 16 20-yard sprints.

After 45 to 50 minutes of running, it’s off to the school’s weight room where the players do a series of Olympic lifts, such as power clean and clean pulls, to increase their speed.

“It increases your speed by putting more force into the ground,” Smith said.

Some weight work to develop the back muscles and biceps concludes the 2-hour workout.

It’s back to the weight room on Tuesday with the emphasis on strength-building.

After some flexibility exercises, the players hit the squat rack for front and back squats as well as bench press. For good measure, Smith throws in some shoulder and tricep exercises as well as ab work to strengthen a player’s core.

After an hour in the weight room, the scene shifts to the field where the team is divided into small skilled players (quarterbacks, wideouts and defensive backs), combo players (running backs, tight ends and linebackers) and large skilled players (lineman).

The small skilled players must complete a 40-yard dash in five seconds, while the combo players have the same amount of time to run 35 yards. Predictably, the large skilled players have the shortest distance (30 yards) to run in the allotted five seconds.

The players have 25 seconds to rest between sprints. The rest period increases to 45 seconds after each set of five sprints.

The rest period shrinks to just 10 seconds prior to the final sprint.

With change-of-direction cone drills on the workout schedule, developing explosive speed is the focus of Wednesday’s regiment.

The players also spend time in the weight room on lifts to maximize their explosive power such as the snatch, clean pull and hang clean.

Players also do a series of back and bicep exercises.

On Thursday, the players do a series of strength movements, such as the back squat and incline bench as well as shoulder and tricep exercises. Ab work is also part of the routine before the players must complete a series of up to 18 110-yard sprints within an alloted amount of time depending on body type.

Players are required to attend at least 24 of the 28 workout sessions.

The attendance gets better each year, said Smith, who received a game ball for his efforts last season from then head coach Phil Strickland.

“It’s been great and the kids are great,” he said.

The results are obvious. Smith said some players have improved their strength by more than 100 pounds. Rising sophomore Jaylen Miller, for example, set a personal best this summer with a 475 lb. squat and a 285 lb. power clean.

Asked the satisfaction Smith gets for transforming the players into better football players, he simply says, “Winning.”

Weight and Conditioning

Program

Mondays

Field Work Sprints Plyometrics Running hills 20-yard sprints

Weight Room Power cleans Clean Pulls Back exercises Bicep exercises Abdominals

Tuesdays

Weight Room Back squat Front squat Bench press Shoulder exercises Tricep exercises Abdominals

Field Work Up to a maximum of 40 40, 35 and 30-yard sprints.

Wednesdays

Field Work Cone drills Sprint drills

Weight Room Snatch Hang clean Clean pulls Back lifts (different from Monday's exercises) Bicep exercises (different from Monday's exercises)

Thursdays

Weight Room Back squat Incline bench Shoulder exercises (different from Tuesday's exerices) Tricep exerices (different from Tuesday's exercises) Hamstring exercises Abdominals

Field Work Up to a maximum of 18,

110 yard sprints

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