Sep 16, 2016
In-Season Strength
Rich Zawack

We are now entering the first few weeks of the regular fall sports season. Games have started, two-a-days are over. The focus is currently on skills and strategy.

All the work done pre-season on strength, speed, and power take a back seat to playing. But should they?

Physiologically, an athlete will begin to loose strength and power in about three weeks if these aspects of training are neglected.

Sports like soccer, football, and volleyball have long seasons. You really can’t train for a peak performance as you do in track, swimming, or cross-country.

What usually happens is speed, strength, and power get neglected or ignored. In six to eight weeks, all of the pre-season work is lost.

It shouldn’t be this way, but this is typically what happens.

I was asked many times why my guys looked so fast in our first playoff game. We seemed to have really quick teams even after 10 games. This made a difference in our playoff performance.

Many people thought we got faster as the season progressed. The truth is, we just didn’t get slower.

We ran an in-season maintenance program that paid off for us late in the year. We always thought in terms of high aspirations and we planned appropriately.

That meant we lifted two days a week — we chose two core lifts and two supplemental lifts. We rotated them and did them religiously.

Early regular season lifting days emphasized longer, lighter sets and reps. As the season progressed we worked toward a peak — going through a strength, then a power phase.

It was basic and it took 45 minutes to an hour.

We emphasized short rest intervals with lower weights. We sacrificed extremely heavy lifting for conditioning. Short rests were helpful to our conditioning process.

We did one thing that is probably different from many coaches. We did our lifts before practice because the efficacy is much higher.

Coaches concerns are strategic and skill centered but the truth is the better athlete wins the game. Most times, what determines whether a game is won or lost has to do with who gets there first with the most power. Speed and strength determine winners and losers.

Working out before practice allows the athlete to have a full gas tank. That is, his or her ATP has not been depleted. You can’t lift effectively if you are energy deficient.

Power wins games. It has been proven that spending two days a week emphasizing strength to power development is going to make the difference on many occasions.

Maintaining speed and strength could make a big difference in the outcome of your season.

Rich Zawack, BS, MA, CSCS-D, has served as president of Athletic Development Corporation for the last 10 years. Prior to that he was a high school teacher and coach for 36 years at Strongsville (Ohio) High School. He has coached 17 state champions, one NCAA champion, 18 NFL football players, and one NBA basketball player.

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