Sep 21, 2018Gone Viral
What works to motivate players to give their all in the weight room? How about if they knew 6 million people were going to see their effort?
According to The Spectrum, the University of Buffalo’s student newspaper, that’s the number of people who watched Buffalo sophomore Jovany Ruiz execute a tough exercise this fall, thanks to his strength and conditioning coach’s use of Twitter to inspire players. And while your players may not get 6 million hits, it’s a good bet that showcasing their efforts on social media could raise the bar on their efforts, too.
Twitter is a key part of how Lewis Caralla, Head Football Strength and Conditioning Coach at Buffalo, is fulfilling a mission he was given when he signed on to the job at the end of the 2017 season. In addition to getting the Bulls stronger and faster, Caralla was charged with getting them more enthusiastic.
Based on experiences at his previous post at Louisiana-Lafayette, where he helped the team to a bowl appearance in 2016, Carella knew that broadcasting his team’s weight room efforts to friends and fans in real time would be a powerful motivator. So he set up a team Twitter account and started snapping photos and recording videos.
In addition to posting shots of players working out, Caralla uses the page to report the results of a weekly rivalry — the “starving, hungry, or satisfied” competition. Caralla divides players into lifting groups, and assigns them to one of those categories based on how hard they’re working. The group that shows the most grit each week gets a Twitter shout-out, along with a photo or video. Players flex for the camera, showing off the results of their efforts.
“They love social media and I love doing it for them,” Caralla said. “We have one of our interns take picture of our lifts … they love being in those pictures.”
Combined with his take-no-prisoners coaching style (screaming, “We get to lift today!” into the empty Buffalo stadium is a regular part of his warm-up routine), Caralla’s use of social media is infusing new passion into the weight room, according to senior wide receiver Anthony Johnson.
“He’s helped all the team,” Johnson said. “You have to have an energy. You go to the weight room and if you’re quiet, he’ll tell you to come back in. You really have to be loud in there, you have to be ready. You can’t be in there lazy and drowned out, you have to be ready to lift.”
Head Coach Lance Leipold agrees.
“Lou has come in with enthusiasm and a great positive message and has really connected with this group at the right time,” he said. “Where we are as a program and where he came in, we found the right guy at the right time. Our guys have really embraced him.”
For Caralla, embracing social media just makes sense, since it’s something his players love and respond to.
“I’m always trying to think of different ways to reach the kids, different ways to excite them,” he said. “I know they didn’t sign their letter of intent to lift weights here. It’s my job to think of ways to make them love lifting weights. It could be a real difference maker in your program if you have that.”