In-Season Training for Football, Part II: When?

In our previous article (read here), we discussed the importance of in-season training for football programs, and what those programs should look like in general. Today we attack logistics, arguably the most difficult hurdle when it comes to working out during the season. At PLT4M, we are still active high school coaches so we understand the issues at hand. We want to preserve on-field practice time, and we worry that workouts will jeopardize energy levels and practice output. That being said, we fully believe there is a way to minimize the cost while getting all of the benefits of a full commitment to in-season training. Of course there are any number of ways to go about training during the season, and it all depends on your athletes/schedule/etc, but here is the way we like to attack it with our own teams.
Post-Competition Recovery
On Saturday mornings, post Friday Night Lights, we like to run a brief team recovery workout. This serves a couple of purposes. Firstly, it jumpstarts the physical recovery process. We utilize a low-intensity, low-impact metabolic conditioning workout – much like our off-season Pillars. Compound bodyweight movements and cardio work elevates blood flow to all joints and areas of the body. Increased blood flow begins the process of recovery and regeneration in the muscle and tissue damaged by the efforts of last night. Secondly, the early morning requirement works to keep athletes from celebrating too strongly after a win, or making poor choices after a loss. It also keeps them engaged with the football program 6 days a week without overtaxing them physically or mentally.
Weighted Workout 1
On Mondays, we opt for a workout and film session over field time.  We firmly believe that in football, mental aptitude and preparation is just as important as physicality. If our kids know what they’re doing, and what to expect on the other side, we will be in a better position to succeed. Because of this we spend real time digging into and grading previous game film as well as introducing and breaking down the new opponent. By focusing on the mental during Monday’s time together, we are totally free to sell-out on our first weighted workout of the week beforehand. This way we avoid any issues of motivation and energy at practice that day, as well as increasing the post-game recovery. Since our game, we’ve now had 2 workouts to spur recovery and put us back into optimal playing shape, and an intense mental prep and learning practice. We achieve all of this over 4 full days without contact – meaning we will be as healthy as possible for our dynamic, full padded practices in preparation for our next opponent.
Weighted Workout 2
To round out the week, we insert our 2nd weighted workout on Wednesday before practice. We don’t want to lift any less than 48 hours prior to a game. This provides ample time to recover – no chance for residual soreness or fatigue of any kind. Since there is a 45 minute gap between the final school bell and the official start of practice, we urge our guys to get into the weight room asap and get their workout done quickly and efficiently. Technically this is their own time, but they know the importance of keeping strength and health throughout the season so they are motivated to spend the extra time before practice and hurry to still be out on the field on time. We also make them very aware that a 25 minute lift is no excuse for a poor practice and that both are necessary if they want to win on Friday night. Of course there are exceptions to every generality, and differences within every school and program – and no system is perfect. Plenty of coaches have other philosophies that work very well. If you have a personal approach to in-season training that you like, we’d love to hear it!

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