When I write programs for high school and college athletes for the summer, I make sure it revolves around sprinting, jumping, and throwing.
There's a reason that the NFL Combine puts so much emphasis on the 40 yard dash, 3 cone drill, vertical and broad jump; they are the greatest indicator of one's power output (how explosive one is).
An athlete is defined by how explosive he or she is.
I don't care how many times you can bench 225. That's completely irrelevant when you need to:
- Cover a WR on a deep route
- Chase down a fast QB
- React quickly at the net in volleyball
- Guard their best shooter in basketball
- Track down a ball in softball/baseball
- Anything in Track & Field
- Secure a single-leg takedown in wrestling
- Score a fast break in hockey or soccer
Ok ok... so if I don't have my athletes bench press, then what do I do?
We follow these guidelines:
- Test throughout the entire year.
- Stay competitive.
- Contrast Training: Sprint/Jump/Throw
Test Throughout the Entire Year
Whether it's pre-season, in-season or off-season, we are constantly competing and making sure that they continue to improve as an athlete. In order to do so, we need to constantly assess their progress year-round.
Just like how fat-loss clients might step on a scale every week or take measurements of their waist. Or how powerlifters might max out in bench or deadlift once a month. As a competitor, you need to constantly assess yourself!
In order to compete, we have to track and record results.
Find a way to test speed and explosion. Get creative with this as a coach.
As long as the athletes stay competitive and know what their marks are, there are plenty of options to test explosion. Just make sure that they strive to beat their previous mark the next time you test their maxes.
Here are the four tests that I do:
- Max Speed
- Broad Jump
- Overhead Ball Throw
Other options you might do could be 3 cone, L drill, jammer press, side ball throw, shin jump distance, glute bridge max weight, etc.
Once every two weeks, we max out and record their results in an excel spreadsheet. The athletes know what their previous best was and their goal that day is to break a PR (personal record) in at least one event.
"Curse or Cheer"
Just like a lot of the other stuff that I implement, I also learned this from Tony Holler.
Going into max-day, each athlete knows what their numbers are. After they max out and I say their result out loud, they should either curse or cheer.
This means that if they just recorded a new PR, they should be pretty pumped, as should all of their teammates. As a group, we should all cheer their success with a ton of positive-energy. However, they should also be well-aware if they didn't PR. Now I'm not condoning "F-bombs", but they better be pissed off that they didn't succeed.
If this isn't the case, then you don't have a competitive-minded team and therefore, you probably won't be competitive on the field/court. Before we break down the "X's and O's", watch film, practice plays or hit the weight room, we HAVE to get our team to buy-in and become a competitive-minded group.
If you're trying to build a successful program, you need to establish a "Buy-In" from the team and a competitive atmosphere first and foremost before we even get into the training program.
Since summers are busy, we plan to meet two or three days a week as a team. The athletes are expected to workout on their own one day a week as well. It's important to get better in the summer, however, it's also important to HAVE A SUMMER.
These athletes have 3 months of freedom before school starts again, let them enjoy some of it! In order to make it a win-win, encourage them to stay competitive and active in their free time.
Before the summer starts, we discuss the best times that would work for everyone's schedules. Once we find a few common times, we set a consistent schedule that aims for the middle of the week.
For example, I'll do workout #1 with them on Monday evening, workout #2 on Wednesday morning, workout #3 on Thursday morning, and then ask them to do workout four on their own (if they have time) either Friday or Saturday.
Sundays are meant for recovery.
Now that we have a buy-in from the athletes and we've created a competitive atmosphere, we can move on to the fun part; the weight room.
When we meet in the summer, we'll do a quick dynamic warmup together before we start our workout. This will take around 6-8 minutes and it will consist of:
-Activating the glutes.
-Engaging the core.
-Ankle, hip & shoulder mobility
-"Waking up" the fast twitch fibers
Once we are warm and activated, we'll break into partners or groups of 3 and we'll discuss the workout. Once everyone feels comfortable with what they're doing, I'll crank up Jock Jams 4 and let them go to work.
Contrast Training: Sprint/Jump/Throw
The quickest way to explain Contrast Training is this:
Performing a strength exercise immediately followed by an explosive exercise.
For example, you could do 5 reps of heavy squat and then immediately perform 5 weighted jumps following the squats.
In turn, this tells your body, "the reason I'm squatting this heavy weight, is so I can jump higher and run faster. I'm not just squatting to squat with no ulterior motive".
This sounds like common sense, but how often do we see people in the weight room lifting extremely heavy weights without any sprinting or jumping to go along with it?
If you don't sprint or jump during your workout, then how do you expect to sprint faster and jump higher during your game?
And remember, if you aren't fast or explosive, then odds are you won't make it as a top-tier athlete. Even though 127 people liked that video of you deadlifting 300 pounds on Instagram, it's completely irrelevant if you aren't quick enough to play defense in basketball. Yes I know, everyone loved that tiktok of you bench pressing, but that doesn't matter when you play linebacker and you aren't fast enough to cover their RB on a wheel route.
So, unless it's a recovery workout, we include sprinting/jumping/throwing in every workout we do.
This is what a summer week would look like for us:
Each workout is around 45-60 minutes, in a complex-setting where partners are at each station. This means that there's two athletes at each station and they complete three rounds before rotating to the next station.
*There are always optional auxiliary lifts provided for the football players and whoever else wants to stay after*
Day One & Day Four:
1a) Sprint max x 7-10 seconds
1b) Rest x 45 seconds
2a) Banded Broad Jump x 5
2b) Single Leg Ball Slam x 5
3a) Depth Drop - Side to vertical jump x 5 each
3b) Heavy RFESS x 5
4a) Trap Bar Deadlift x 10
4b) Weighted Jump x 5
5a) Jammer Press/Landmine Press (w/ rotation) x 5
5b) Face Pull x 10
5c) Side/180 Ball Throw x 5
6a) Single Leg Glute Bridge x 5
6b) Single Leg Side-To-Side Jump x 10
1a) Sprint max x 7-10 seconds
1b) Rest x 45 seconds
2a) Single Leg Eccentric RDL w/ Knee Drive x 5
2b) Depth Jump x 5
3a) Eccentric Pull Ups x 5
3b) Overhead Ball Throw x 5
4a) Nordic Eccentric Hamstring Curls x 5
4b) Shin Jump w/ Side Jump x 3 each way
5a) Heavy 3-way lunge x 3
5b) Step Up Jumps x 8 total
6a) Eccentric Pistol Squat x 5
6b) Plate Swings x 15
1a) Assault Bike max x 10 seconds
1b) Rest x 45 seconds
2a) Banded Side Step x 20
2b) Sit Thru x 10
3a) Palloff Rotation x 10 each way
3b) Halo x 10 each way
4a) Side Plank Rotation x 5 each
4b) Dead Bug x 10 each
5a) Banded Pull Over x 10
5b) Walk Outs x 5
6a) Banded Wall March x 10 total
6b) Banded Shuffle x 10 total
Key Points to Remember:
Create a buy-in and competitive atmosphere
Assess their progress year-round
Incorporate rotational and side-to-side movements