Jan 29, 2015
Strong Praise

By Patrick Bohn

As the college football season draws to a close and the NFL playoffs begin, teams are looking back at the elements that contributed to their success. A number of recent articles have recognized the efforts of strength and conditioning coaches, including Stanford’s Shannon Turley, Auburn’s Ryan Russell, and Shaun Huls of the Philadelphia Eagles.
For the past several years, few college football teams have epitomized smash-mouth football than the Stanford Cardinal. A big reason for that has been Strength and Conditioning Coach Shannon Turley.

Originally brought to Palo Alto by former Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, Turley has stayed on board with current Head Coach David Shaw, and both he and the Cardinal have reached great heights. This year, Stanford went to its fourth straight BCS bowl, and Turley was named the top strength coach in the country by the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

In a recent article in the San Fransisco Chronicle, Shaw praised Turley as the reason the players have been able to stay on the field, saying:

“We don’t have a lot of pulled muscles or torn muscles. We don’t have a lot of issues that other places have. That’s because of Shannon Turley’s program.”

Linebacker Shayne Skov added that Turley is crucial to getting the players focused on the game.

“He’s as fundamental to our mind-set as our coaches are,” Skov said. “And that doesn’t even speak to the physical aspect of things. He’s instrumental in how we prepare.”

The Auburn University Tigers stunning turnaround from last season, when they went winless in SEC play, can be chalked up to a number of coaching staff changes. In a recent article in the Opelika-Auburn News, the Tigers’ new strength coach Ryan Russell was was named an integral part of the team’s rise.

“A war dog, that’s what he is,” said Auburn player Dee Ford when asked about Russell impact. “He came into this thing and he has contributed so much to this turnaround…There’s no sitting down, there’s no breathing, there’s no nothing but working. It’s fun, and it’s hard, but it’s exactly what we need.”

Auburn Head Coach Gus Malzahn said Russell is known for the no-excuses attitude he’s drilled into players.

“He’s a very energetic guy, and he has a high standard. There’s no gray area. He’s very consistent. I think that’s where it started from the discipline and accountability part,” Malzahn said.

When Chip Kelly was hired as the new Head Coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, he didn’t just bring a new offensive style with him. He also brought a new approach to strength and conditioning in the form of Shaun Huls, whose official title is “Sports-Science Coordinator” and who is a former performance coach for U.S. Naval Special Warfare Group 2.

While the Eagles are tight-lipped about the specifics of Huls’ program, what is known is that the organization is on the cutting-edge of using science and nutrition to help players improve, be it through personalized protein shakes, heart rate monitors, and weightlifting technology with 3D cameras.

Some of the technology is dedicated to reducing soft-tissue injuries, especially important for a Philadelphia team that has an offensive scheme based on running plays quickly.

“Everyone is saying that going at this pace, people are going to burn out,” offensive tackle Dennis Kelly told Sports Illustrated, “but they’re making sure we’re getting the rest we need to recover.”

Patrick Bohn is an Assistant Editor at Coaching Management

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