By David Hopper
Strength & Conditioning Coach
Washington High School (SD)
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.
We use two days instead three or four days per week. We also use less volume with 2-3 sets and about 30-45 mins in the weight room instead of 3-5 sets and 45-75 mins in the weight room.
During the off-season our top priority is the weight room, but the moment the pre-season starts the weight room is secondary and they must focus on the actual game. To minimize the mental and physical drain we limit the amount of lifts throughout the week. During the summer we spend four days training, but the moment summer training ends we switch to two days a week. Not only do we limit the lift frequency, but we decrease the overall volume of the actual lift. We do this by limiting exercise number and exercise sets/reps. In total we try to trim our normal 45-75 minute work outs down to around 30-45 minutes. This is important because athletes will be spending extra time on the practice field spending energy. I always tell our athlete that the body has a certain amount of money that it can spend on physical activities. During the winter we spend most of our money on increasing strength and we see our maxes go up because of that. During the fall they are spending large chunks of money on the football field increasing game speed/technique/etc. so we must limit our spending in the weight room to counter act that.