Mike Winkler

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MIKE WINKLER

  • Archbishop Hoban High School (OH) Director of Strength and Conditioning
  • NHSSCA Ohio State Director
  • NHSSCA Regional Strength Coach Of The Year (2019)
  • Featured on PLT4M’s Chalk Talk Podcast

When Football Season Ends – Rest! Don’t Rush

Your high school football players are put through a gauntlet of challenges. They go from tough summer lifts, right to ‘in-season’ training, and highly competitive games. At some point, the season ends, and win or lose, your athletes have been through a lot. 

As the rigorous football season ends, high school coaches need to remember that their athletes need to rest and recover. 

Whether the high school football player is jumping right into a winter sport or looking to get into off-season training, the weight room can wait. 

Yes, you read that correctly…the weight room can wait. 

Winter Sports

At the high school level, we love multi-sport athletes. And in many cases, the best football player might be the best basketball player or wrestler. So as coaches, we want them ready to go right into the next season. 

And while the seasons might stack right on top of each other and winter try-outs come right after football season ends, your athletes do not have to be right back into the weight room. 

For football players transitioning to winter sports, I require a minimum of 2 weeks off from the weight room. Even if they are going right into practices or try-outs, we are still giving their bodies the needed rest from resistance training. 

As the athletes do come back into the weight room after two weeks, I am taking them through bodyweight exercises so that they can get back on track and lock back in on the basics. 

So while a full month off from full-blown resistance training might sound crazy to some, it is in the hopes of doing best by the high school athlete.

When they are ready for resistance training after the rest and recovery, they will be better suited to give it their best. 

The basketball, wrestling, or any other winter team will only benefit from a healthy and happy athlete that has had a chance to recover from the wear and tear of football season.  

Off-Season Athletes 

This may not apply to every school, but some may have one sport football athletes. When the football season ends, we are not maxing out or jumping back in. 

If we throw these athletes right back in when the season ends, they will never have a chance to get right and are going to be working below their best. Because we have a full year with these kids to get them to where they need to be physically & mentally, there is no rush. 

The football-only athlete will take 4 weeks off, and 4 weeks of a ‘GPP’ (general physical preparedness) phase. 

In the 4 weeks off, some will come and look for something to do. We will give them different light cardio or core workouts to keep them engaged. 

In the 4 weeks of GPP, we are doing tons of bodyweight exercises, core, and getting them back to basics. 

Once we hit mid to late January, we are ready to start our ‘off-season resistance training,’ and from there, they have around 25 weeks before they hit the start of the season. By setting athletes up for success through recovery and that initial prep phase, the return in gains will be much higher throughout the off-season. 

Find The Fit For Your Athletes 

Whether you are considering multi or one sport athlete, it is essential to remember that we are working with high school athletes. What is most important to remember is that ‘strength and conditioning’ does not have to be slamming the weights right when the season ends. 

The role of a good strength coach is to look at all total parts of how the season went. Did you have an extended season with playoffs? How your athletes are feeling? Where are the different athletes at in their development?

Some football players might not have gotten a ton of playing time. They are not as banged up as the 2-way starter, and we can afford to change the timeline of rest and GPP work. 

Other athletes may have had lingering or nagging injuries and can benefit from extended blocks of bodyweight work and recovery. 

Once you have determined the different needs of your groups, you can set your athletes up for success coming out of the football season. And as we said earlier, success is not a new set of max numbers the day after the season ends. 

Long term success is developing athletes over their entire career. So when it comes to hitting the weight room right as the season ends, think about how rest and recovery can set your next athletes up for long-term results.