Nov 8, 2016Changing Things Up
The Citadel’s football team credits much of its recent success to Donnell Boucher, who has been its head strength and conditioning coach for the last 10 years. He made significant changes to the team’s training program two years ago.
“Donnell’s strength is his willingness to adapt and adjust his training method,” said Head Football Coach Brent Thompson. “He came to us and said, ‘I know exactly what you need.’ And I thought last year, we were a conditioned football team the way we wanted to be, in a lot better shape and a lot leaner, and playing a lot faster.”
Over the past two seasons, the Citadel has won 17 out of 21 games. According to The Post and Courier, much of the success came down to stamina in the fourth quarter. This season, the Bulldogs’ opponents have only scored 22 points against them during that quarter.
“It’s our conditioning, and the way we play football,” Tevin Floyd, a senior linebacker, said. “We are well-conditioned and we have good endurance. Then you add the way we play, and it kind of doubles it. You can see that in the games.”
Boucher said he first realized what had to change in 2014.
“Any strength coach is a servant to the style the coach wants to play,” he said. “If he wants a bigger, stronger team, then the off-season needs to reflect that. If the coach wants a faster, better conditioned team, the off-season needs to reflect that. You can be mediocre at all things, or you can excel at one end of the spectrum.”
Another important element was getting athlete buy-in.
“Now, when we run shuttles or 100s, they understand that this is their meal ticket,” he said. “This is what will show up during the season and enable you to leave the opponent behind.”
Floyd said that Boucher’s training involves unconventional practices, such as yoga and pilates. He especially appreciates Boucher’s leadership in the weightroom.
“Coach D is always telling you that it’s all about the mind,” Floyd said. “The weights, that’s going to happen, because of how much time we spend in the weight room. But the great thing is his motivation and the advice on life, the real man-to-man talk. That’s what I love about being in the weight room.”
Boucher said that the cadets’ busy schedules requires him to train them with what he calls “the minimum effective dose” that will produce the necessary results but leave them ready for the rest of their day.
“It forces us to be efficient,” Boucher said. “We have to find the things that will give us the highest return with the minimum effective dose. We want to set them up to practice harder and longer, analyze film longer and better, have a more productive meeting.”