It’s Not Over When the Pads Go On
This article is authored by Colin Quay. Opinions expressed may not be that of SMARTER Team Training, STT sponsors or constituents. Coach Quay is regarded by his peers as one of the top strength and conditioning coaches in Washington, DC area. His dedication, knowledge and creativity in the gym and on the practice field ensure that his athletes and clients continually make outstanding gains. He has had the privilege of training thousands of the area’s top High School, College, and Professional athletes. Colin has also spent several years under the tutelage of many of the top strength and conditioning experts in the world. Colin expects the best from his athletes because that’s what they get from him.
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The High School Football Season is upon us. The Friday Night Lights illuminate the battle for the Grid Iron below. There is a chill in the air, and the hot steamy two-a days are a distant memory. The season is in full swing and now is the time when all those reps, sets, and drills of pre-season are paying dividends.
Every good coach realizes the important role that a productive pre-season training program can play in preparation for the fall season, but few realize the importance of a maintaining the strength, power, flexibility and conditioning of their athletes throughout the season. It is a recognized truth that a team that can stay healthy has a greater chance of success as the playoffs approach.
A properly run in-season Strength & Conditioning program goes a long way to insure a team’s health during the football season. By training in-season, the athletes can greatly decrease their chances of injury by maintaining elevated levels of strength, size, power, flexibility and conditioning.
Now, obviously football is a violent sport and there are certain injuries that are not preventable, but proper in season training will prevent the injuries associated with the weakening of the body during the long season. Since a football season has a pretty consistent weekly pattern, it is very easy to coordinate the training regimen with the practice and game schedule.
We will use a prototypical high school schedule to illustrate a sample-training schedule. At the high school level, most games are played on Friday nights, so it is important to schedule the higher intensity workouts earlier in the week in order to maximize recovery time before game night.
In addition, the period immediately following the game should be geared towards rest and recovery in preparation for the schedule to come in the following week. Let’s walk you through a sample week, so you can get an idea of how to incorporate a sound in-season training program with your team:
Saturday & Sunday:
The 2 days after the game should be focusing on the assessing and the treating of injuries from the last game. The players will be very sore and stiff, so it will be easy to see any swelling or bruising as the players go through their exercises.
Workouts should primarily consist of myofascial release techniques (Foam Rolling, trigger point therapy) and dynamic flexibility drills for all the major muscle groups. The goal is to restore flexibility, increase blood flow, and flush out toxins from the muscles built up from the previous game. Post workout athletes should ice down any injuries and focus on rest, hydration and good nutrition.
These are the best days to train because they are early in the practice week and there is ample time for the players to recover before game day. Workouts should be intense, but with lower volume and shorter duration.
They should consist of multi-joint, compound exercises and core training. Workouts can be done before practice for approximately an hour. Considering the large size of a football team and typical small size of HS weight rooms it would be wise to “split” the routine into an upper and lower body workout.
Group 1 Upper Body
Bench Press (Variations)
Lat Pull downs/Pull-ups
Incline Bench Press (Variations)
T-Bar Row/DB Row/Cable Row
Shoulder Press (Variations)
Med Ball Overhead Slam (Variations)
Cable Chop (Variations)
Group 2 Lower Body
Lunges/Step Up (Variations)
Glute Ham Raises/Hyperextensions
Lateral Lunges/Rotational Lunges
1 Leg RDL/Good Mornings
Med Ball Overhead Slam Variations
Cable Chop Variations
This day can be utilized primarily for auxiliary pre-habitation drills. These workouts will focus primarily on the areas that are most stressed throughout the football season in an effort to prevent injury. They are neck, shoulders, Ankles, wrists, hips and Core.
4 Way Neck
4 Way Band Rotator Cuff
Tibia Toe Raises
Wrist Extension and Flexion
Hip Mobility Exercises
On all three days post weight room workouts and prior to football skills coaching we would recommend the coaches take the players through an on field warm up consisting of multi directional movements and dynamic flexibility exercises. Next incorporate various change of direction drills utilizing some ladder, hurdle or bag drills as a continuation of the warm up to maintain foot work skills and agility. Post Skills training practices should conclude with a conditioning based drill with the sole purpose of maintaining the conditioning level of the team. “The team that can continue to perform at a high level and execute in a fatigued state in the 4th quarter will find a way to win!”
“Gasser” Sprints: Sprint the width of the Football field (50 yds) down and back twice in a row (200 yds total) under the goal time. Four reps or “quarters” is the minimal number of times this drill should be performed. “Overtime” or extra reps should be added if one group fails to make their goal time or execute properly. This is a great way to build mental toughness and teamwork!
Players should be divided into three to four groups
1. Receivers & DB’s (30 seconds)
2. Running Backs, Linebackers, Quarterbacks, and Tight Ends (35 seconds)
3. Linemen (40 seconds)
Training should be light mostly consisting of dynamic flexibility drills. The focus is on mental preparation and physical execution!
On game day the athletes should have had a good night sleep and be preparing their bodies for the up coming game by properly hydrating and eating clean high carbohydrate and lean protein meals throughout the day. Proper warm up should consist of multi directional movements and dynamic flexibility.
If followed these guidelines will ensure a team’s physical readiness and decrease their potential for injury as the playoffs approach. When those lights go on, will your team be ready?
Colin Quay believes that success on the athletic field is not gained over night, nor is it God given; it is earned day in and day out through dedication, discipline, and determination. With every rep pushed, drill ran and yard sprinted one approaches victory. You can contact him at