Conditioning for football is really dictated by the head coach, pretty much at every level. Even though in the collegiate and professional levels you have a specific coach that is responsible for the strength and conditioning, the head man is the one calling the shots ultimately. At each level I have had the chance to play at, the conditioning has been different at least to some extent, each coach and program have their own philosophy. In this post I am going to point out that running and training are great, but when you are training for a specific purpose, all of your runing and training must meet the needs of that particular purpose.
- In high school, it was gassers. Running 212 total yards or 4x the width of a football field for 1 rep, for skill guys roughly around 38-40 seconds if I remember correctly.
- In college, I was introduced to the 300 yard shuttle.....ouchy. Booty Lock to say the least. This would be set up to be 6x 50 yards in a continuous ladder fashion and as a conditioning test we had to run two of them with a specific rest length in between and make a dictated time for each shuttle. Which again was in the 45-55 second region I believe.
- My ladder years in college it was the "oh so awesome" 110 conditioning test. Where we were asked to run 110 yards 24 times with roughly 30-45 seconds between each bout. While skill guys had to make each one in around 16-18 seconds. (I still Love you coach Mac)
The majority of you reading this have most likely been reliving some of your "conditioning" experiences at some point in your career and found that you probably did most of the same stuff I just mentioned......why? Because most football coaches are just that, football coaches. And while they are great at coaching football, when it comes to strength and conditioning they typically do with their players what they did when they played! (Tradition:not always the best thing)
So how long is a typical football play anyways?5 to 6 seconds
How long is the rest? (Depends on what kind of offense you play in to be specific, I hope your conditioning also reflects this but....) Typical rest is 30-35 seconds.
Typical rest between series?? 6-9 minutes (unless your a real stud and play both ways)
Typical Half time length? Something just shy of 20 minutes (unless they are doing something lame to elongate it, like homecomming)
(The last thing I want my big boys thinking about is how fast they need to run 212 yards, or 110m. sprint. I need them to have 5-6 second mentality of, "I can and will track and kill anything that moves in a 12 yard radius, rest 30 seconds, then do it again......until we score" so I want their conditioning to reflect that as well as it can)
So....with these facts, do you see much relationship between the type of conditioning that is typically taking place for these athletes and what it should be preparing them for? Because I see no relationship at all. Football is a sport that demands the athlete to exert 100% of potential energy each play, depending on their particular task. Every single one of the these drills listed above is asking the athlete to find a partiuclar pace or speed that is sustainable for entirely too long! To save you the hastle of reading about partuiclar energy systems and their type and what sets them a part, it is easy just to realize that if you are training for a sport where the plays last 5 seconds, then why would your sprints last 55 seconds? Do you think you can move at the same speed at 55 seconds that you can for 5 seconds? Why are all of the conditioning drills typicall done in a straight line, with a turn every 25 or 50 yards? Football is a non linear based sport (as are most).
Any football players out there ever wonder why you did all the off season work and felt like you were in great shape? Then the first day of practice hits and you feel like death was just layed upon your legs? Well it says more about your off season program and no so much about your work ethic. All off season you pretty much trained at 60-80% of your full speed effort in order to make those run times for your conditioning test, so when you went out to practice and started moving in ALL different directions at a full speed pace it was foreign to you. It was training you to move slow. (You can prepare as hard as you want to, if you aren't being led in the right direction by your program....your most likely training for the 100 m. sprint by running 2 miles every day.)
This post was really made just to create some perspective and awareness hopefully for parents, athletes and also coaches. The post to follow will be the way I approach conditioning for my athletes, and ways and tips that may be beneficial to high school and even collegiate coaches out there training atheletes in high volume that want to make it more "game" or "sport specific". If you need an absolute answer now, or an immediate fix.
Then you can always come down to Apex and sign up for a program today or try a free training session.
Our athletes will be prepared for the fall, the right way.