WITH THE FALL sports season here, it is time to talk football. Many high school student-athletes aspire to advance their careers to the next level of competition--whether that be collegiate or even the NFL. To achieve these goals, an athlete must have prepared properly in the offseason for the rigors of practice and game day.
The training of high school athletes not only involves football coaches and athletes, but the athletes' parents, whose role is significant. "Many high school athletes believe that physically they are further along than they really are, as that is what is always conveyed to them," says Tony Decker, head strength and conditioning coach at Coastal Carolina University. 'The kids want to train and have structure, but instead of trusting the [strength and conditioning] authorities, many parents insist on dictating the training process."
Adds David Feeley, assistant S&C coach at the University of South Carolina: "The high school athletes and their parents are to be reminded that the 'star ranking system' for each high school football athlete is specifically for the high school athlete, and has nothing to do with their football abilities at the collegiate level of play."
The college game is much faster than the high school game, a factor that both the inexperienced athlete and his parents usually forget to account for (the same may be said of the collegiate game when compared to the NFL game). So, what are the first steps the athlete and parents may take in the training process? "Most high school athletes don't have the appropriate exposure to proper training," maintains Decker. "Locating a qualified S&C coach with proven success is the first step in the training process."
"An athlete must develop a work capacity to tolerate the training process--work capacity first, then develop strength and power. Without the establishment of a good work capacity, the athlete will fatigue, resulting in less force output as well as decreased joint stability and reactive abilities. Most athletes lack overall general conditioning," explains A1 Vermeil, a member of the USA Strength and Conditioning Hall of Fame and the only S&C coach/consultant ever to earn championship rings in the NBA (Chicago Bulls) and NFL (San Francisco 49ers).
Feeley agrees: "Most high school kids lack some type of physical quality. We see a lack of overall conditioning as well as a lack of joint mobility in the ankles, hips, and shoulders."
Relates A1 Miller, another S&C...