By Patrick McHenry
Summer is fast approaching so it is time to start developing the fall preseason strength and conditioning programs for football, volleyball, soccer and softball (in some states softball is a fall sport, other states it is a spring sport. For our purposes we will call it a fall sport).
In this article, we will discuss the backwards planning needed to be ready for the start of a new season / school year. First, the strength coach needs to get the starting date for school, any summer camps the sport coaches will participate in, starting date for the practices and testing dates for the sport coaches. If the strength coach is going to be involved in the sport testing then you will need a list of the tests and equipment needed. Some sport coaches like to use testing as a way of making cuts for teams, others use it to see how hard their athletes worked out during the preseason and others use it as a means of motivation.
Here are the important dates for each sport, including the start date of school.
I put the dates on the calendar so I can see exactly how many weeks I have to train each sport. Next, I will set up my calendar with the start dates for summer lifting, which includes holidays. (figure. 2)
Now that the important dates are entered into the calendar, it shows how many days are available to train. We go three days a week (Mon / Wed / Fri) for eight weeks which equals out to 24 workouts for the summer. Each sport has an hour in the weight room and an hour for speed / agility.
Off season sports such as wrestling, basketball, tennis, golf, swimming, baseball and lacrosse have times set up to workout; however, that is outside the scope of this article. Generally we do not have as many of these athletes working out in the summer because their season in not until winter or spring. This allows us to use fall and winter to get their preseason training in.
Starting the first full week of June allows for eight weeks of lifting with a week off just before school starts. The eight weeks are broken into two cycles of four weeks per cycle. The first cycle will be a strength cycle (i.e. heavier weight, less reps) and the second cycle will be a power cycle (lighter weights, medium reps, faster / explosive lifts). The speed agility is set up with two cycles as well. The first cycle will have one day that emphasizes power, one day that emphasizes speed / general movement drills, and a small sided game day on Friday. The second cycle emphasizes more sport specific movements and conditioning. Working with the sports coach on the conditioning program ensures that the athlete is not over-trained and the sport coach knows where their players’ fitness levels are.
Strength cycle one will consist of 4 sets of 4- 8 repetitions depending on the day. Monday is 4 sets of 4- 6 repetition for the major lifts (i.e. bench, squat, clean, military) and 4 sets of 6 repetitions for the auxiliary lifts (i.e. lat pull down, leg curl, reverse fly, bicep curl, tricep push down). Wednesday is 4 sets of 6-8 repetitions for major lifts and 4 sets of 8 repetitions for auxiliary lifts. Friday is a light day with 4 sets of 8-10 repetitions and 4 sets of 10.
One program design question that I am frequently asked about is lifts with different groups in the weight room. Varsity soccer and volleyball will be in the room at the same time; however, they are not performing the same workout. Each sport is grouped by level (i.e. Varsity/ JV, Fresh. / Soph.) as well as gender (male / female). If there is a freshman on varsity / JV, monitor their training ability to see if they can handle the advanced card or if they need a separate workout that will fit their needs. Both groups may be at the squat rack but the soccer players will be performing one-leg squats, while the volleyball team is performing front squats. One group may work on clean high pulls while the other is working on jumps at the clean area. The only constant for both groups is the number of sets (usually 4) and time at exercise. I use a clock so the athletes know when to start each set. The time depends on the day, phase and teams in the room. Keeping everyone on a clock allows the athletes to move from one exercise to the other and keeps them on pace.