Jan 29, 2015
Coming In From The Cold

ryanjohnson-head.jpgBy Ryan Johnson

The holidays are over, winter sports are in full swing, and athletes preparing for spring sports are chomping at the bit to begin preseason practices. Ryan Johnson, CSCS, Coach Practitioner and Strength and Conditioning Coach at Wayzata High School in Plymouth, Minn., checks in with T&C and brings us up to speed on what’s going in his program this winter.

The holiday break has come and gone and it is back to work in the land of 10,000 frozen lakes. We endured one of the coldest stretches ever for the month of December here in Minnesota, and it was a good time to hunker down and catch up on some much needed rest.

Our athletes were given time off over break, but that doesn’t mean any dust collected on the weights and exercise machines in our facility. Every year, winter break signals the return of our alumni who are now in college. They start to trickle in a few at a time, and then all of a sudden the day before we go on break, I find myself catching up with two dozen former student-athletes. This is always fun, but sometimes I feel a little guilty because all I want to do is get the heck out of here for the day and see my family–but I love spending time with my weightroom family just the same.

I am lucky to be surrounded by many quality people here at Wayzata–we have built a great program because of great people. I have an excellent physical education staff and administrative team to work with, and I have two great strength coaches that work with us in voluntary roles. But I have another staff I work with, and they may be the most important staff members that I have. This support staff is comprised of a handful of individuals that train and use our facility every day. These people are our school’s teachers, counselors, culinary staff, and custodians.

This support staff has become an integral part of our weightroom family. A great example of this is our head custodian Kirk, who has become a vital ingredient to our program. He stays late to train every single day, and without him I would have to kick out a couple dozen athletes each day at my scheduled closing time. Kirk also works during the winter break and unlocks the weightroom so our alumni have a place to train. He is a great people person and the kids enjoy their interaction with him. Kirk is just one example of the many contributors to our program who give without ever asking for anything in return. (I do try to slide Trojan Power Gear to him whenever I can as a small token of our appreciation.)

Speaking of success, our boys’ hockey team and boys’ basketball team each took home a Holiday Tournament Championship and our other winter programs are doing well also. Our winter sports are in the midst of in-season workouts, and the combination of our off-season sports really has the weightroom busy.

The football team began their official off-season program–we will spend the month of January doing some General Physical Preparedness (GPP) with a heavy dose of adaptability workouts. A lot of high volume, low intensity workouts allow us to teach various lifts to our athletes.

Our spring sport athletes will soon be transferring from their speed strength workouts into the power phase of conditioning. All of these athletes are also doing quite a bit of prehab training as well: series of exercises that focus on shoulder, ankle, knee, hip, and groin development that will hopefully keep our athletes as injury free as possible.

I mentioned how cold it has been earlier, and thought I would also share how we manage to deal with the freezing conditions winter brings us. All of our athletic programs share two spaces to combat the elements. The first is our main gymnasium, and the second is an inflatable structure located at one of our middle schools. The inflatable structure or “The Bubble” as we call it, has three areas we utilize: a 60-yard field, a batting cage, and a smaller 25×25-yard field.

We are able to schedule time in the gymnasium in the mornings during the week and the Bubble for after school by sport. We organize a rotating schedule that allows various programs to use the facilities. Often, these schedules are interactive and involve shared time at each facility. For example, the football team can be out playing seven-on-seven while the baseball and softball players are in the batting cages taking cuts. We might even have track athletes working hurdle technique in the auxiliary area. The large field at the Bubble is scheduled daily by sport, but we always share the auxiliary areas–once again just one big happy family.

I must point out, however, that our boys’ cross country team does not surrender to the elements as they continue to run outside on a daily basis. It was -20 degrees the other morning and I saw a couple of the guys coming in from a run. Their heads were covered in layers that reminded me of Luke Sykwalker in the “Empire Strikes Back.” In fact, our entire outdoor landscape resembles the planet Hoth right now.

As a member of our National Strength and Conditioning Association advisory board for the state of Minnesota, I am preparing for our winter clinic as well as our regional convention, which is slated for around mid-April. I have been asked by my peers to speak at this clinic on the topic of high school strength and conditioning. This is quite an honor and one that I welcome.

I have also been invited to coach in the Texas vs. The Nation college all-star football game in El Paso, Texas, held the last week in January. This is another amazing opportunity, and our school has agreed to give me the week off so I can coach in the game. I will be working with the legendary Gene Stallings, among others.

I have been amazed at the amount of e-mails generated by these blogs. I appreciate the comments and welcome any questions that can help you. Thanks for taking the time to check in on the Wayzata Trojans, and here’s to a great 2009!

To read more about Wayzata’s strength and conditioning program, go to: www.wayzata.k12.mn.us. You can reach Ryan Johnson with questions or blog ideas at: [email protected]. .

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