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By David Hopper, Strength & Conditioning Coach, Washington High School (SD)

Why train for nine months if you will not continue it during the time that truly matters? Athletes shouldn’t peak during training camp, they should peak during the season.

By David Hopper
Strength & Conditioning Coach
Washington High School (SD)
Twitter: @SFWStrength



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Imagine working for something for nine straight months. You spend hours on end in a room that is like a freezer in the winter and a sauna during the summer. Instead of sleeping like most people you must wake up early to go to this room and pick up heavy things to earn this special something. Not only do you pick up heavy things in this room, but you must go outside and sprint like your life depends on it.  On top of doing all these things yourself you must constantly encourage your friends to do the same thing every day. Now imagine you finally have this special something in the palm of your hands and you decide to let it go!

I believe this is what exactly happens when athletes train to develop speed, strength and power before the start of the season, but do not continue training during the in-season. Why train for nine months if you will not continue it during the time that truly matters? Athletes shouldn’t peak during training camp, they should try to peak during the championship game!


Key Points for an In-Season Model

It’s important to continue to develop strength & power in the weight room as the athlete continues to improve game speed on the field.  We want to develop these things while limiting energy expenditure, muscle soreness & decreasing time spent in the weight room.


No new stimulus

It’s important in this phase to not use any new exercises. Instead, we use the basics and not try to overcomplicate things. There is no need to introduce a brand-new exercise that you found on social media during the season. Instead of wasting energy trying to have the athlete learn a new movement just keep it simple and use the big money exercises (bench, squat, deadlift, pull variations etc.) These movements got you where you are now there is no reason to abandon them now. 


Limit or Cut Tempo

In-season we try to limit soreness by not using crazy long isometrics. We will use a lot of different tempo variations. These include eccentrics (where the athlete over emphasizes the yielding phase; the lowering of the bench, deadlift, squat etc.) and isometrics (where an athlete pauses at a certain point at the movement and statically holds the weight) I love modifying our big movements with different tempos during the off-season, but we will pretty much eliminate all of these during the in-season to limit any possible soreness that comes from these.


Simplify movements

Throughout most of the year our athletes will be performing some variation of a clean, but when we arrive to the season we will limit the actual catch from the movement and just focus on the pull. We may use the catch for 3-6 weeks during the season, but overall the majority of the time we will be performing simpler movements to ensure the safety of our athletes.


Sprinkle mobility/prep/reset work in

During the actual lift we will sprinkle certain movements into the work out that have nothing to do with strength or power.



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Instead of avoiding strength training during the season focus on simplifying it for your athletes. By keeping things simple and consistent you will reduce the time they spend in the weight room, but also continue to develop their strength & power when it matters most.


Meet Coach Hopper: Coach Hopper is employed through Avera Sports in Sioux Falls. He spends the majority of his time at Washington High School while spending some time at the University of Sioux Falls. He is CSCS (Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist) and USAW Level 1.




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