Oct 11, 2017
Special Ops Done Safely

On athletic teams at all levels, more and more coaches are interested in using military style workouts with their team. This makes sense as they are a great way to challenge athletes and help a team bond.

The problem is that they can be dangerous. As reported by The New York Times, this past August, at Sachem East (N.Y) High School, a football player was killed during a military workout. At an off-season conditioning camp, the players were carrying a 400-pound, 10-foot log above their heads when it fell and fatally struck one of the athletes in the head.

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How can you use these types of workouts to build players’ stamina, teamwork, and strength while ensuring no one gets hurt? In an article for Strength-Elite, Rusty Whitt, MEd, CSCS, Head of Football Strength and Conditioning at Texas Tech University, names some common errors that strength coaches make when implementing military-style drills and offers some advice on creating a safe and successful training culture.

First, Whitt explains that each individual section of the military has time- and resource-intensive training protocols to ready their members for the grueling tasks they endure. And while this training teaches many qualities that coaches desire, there is a stark difference between these Special Operators and high school or even college athletes.

“Through the mass media explosion of the last twenty years, along with social media, video games, books, movies, TV shows and documentaries, the public has become acutely interested in elite level military training,” writes Whitt. “However if you mimic their training you could get your players hurt, or maybe something far worse could happen.”

When considering adding some of these elite training methods, Whitt describes multiple factors that coaches need to consider. First is to conduct a risk assessment by asking yourself six questions:

  • What is the worst thing that could happen if we implement this drill/exercise?””
  • “Do we have time to properly instruct the execution of this drill?””
  • “Have the athletes ever been exposed to this stressor before?””
  • “Does this drill have any carry over to our sport?””
  • “Is there a way this drill/exercise can be introduced over a period of time?””
  • “Has our sports medicine staff been notified of what we are doing

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