Five Simple Drills

Not Sure How to Manage Your In-Season Strength and Conditioning Program?

Here are Five Time Saving Drills that will Keep You at the top of Your Game. 

Over the last year and a half I have been writing the strength and conditioning programs for the US Revolution; during this time I have learned that there are several key aspects that are very important in developing a top quality strength and conditioning program for the footy athlete. Part of this learning process is not only from writing the programs; but also I have the unique opportunity to see them action, as well playing against of few them.  All of that a side, the main problem many strength and conditioning coaches run into are a  lack of resources, predominantly the resource of:  TIME.  Thus, there becomes a need to pare things down to absolute bear minimum number of drills that will produce the most rock solid result.  Hence my learning process has led me to develop what I call my "Five Necessities of Building a Footy Player ".


But before we get to the good stuff, we need to take a look at a few misnomers that are keeping many American footy players from becoming truly outstanding. 


1.  Don't Discount Strength - training strength is often sacrificed in the footy training hierarchy; due to the perception that other physical abilities should come first.  Although, running can get you there, in a true 50/50 contest strength will many times be the determining factor.  Don't think strength is important, almost across the board best players in the country are going to be some of the strongest also. 


2.  The Core - Want core work - pick weight up off the ground, lift it over head, squat underneath it, or carry it; and you'll have all the core work you could want and then some.


3.  Run Focused - at the risk of sounding like I am down on running; I will say this:  Footy players shouldn't be running more than 800 meters during anyone repetition.  The last time I checked in on a footy game, I didn't see any players running a steady state pace for a distance of 5, 3, 2, or even 1 mile, however I did see a boat load players making 50 to 100 meter runs repeatedly.  You want to log a lot of distance do it running 400 or 800 meter runs.


4. Better Footy Body - although I know its important to players to look good for all the adoring "honeys" after the game; performing sport specific strength training and bodybuilding are two completely different birds.  10 drop sets of preacher curls followed by a superset of bench press and pec deck, are NOT going to make you a better footy player. Players should be getting a steady dose of compound strength and power movement similar to the ones to be listed.


Now that we have all that out of the way; let's look at my Top 5 drills for helping you zero in on becoming an the best all-around footy player possible. 

1.  Overhead Squat - if there a single lifting exercise that develops nearly every athletic quality desirable this just might be it.


Description -
Start by standing with a hip-width stance and good posture while holding your implement (e.g., broomstick or barbell) overhead.
• Tense/brace the muscles of the lower trunk (abs) while also locking your arms and establishing a “proud chest” upper body posture.  This body position should be maintained throughout the entire movement.  If it cannot be maintained, discontinue the movement and seek professional guidance.
• Continue the movement by squatting down and pushing your knees “wide” as you descend.  This allows you to reach a deep and more comfortable “bottom position”.
• Note:  While moving into the “bottom position”, be sure to keep your weight on your heels and maintain your starting posture.


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2.  400's - this might be simplest drill of all.  Find a track and run around it, I mean really who hasn't done that before.  I will admit if done proper these are not very "fun" but boy do they really work.  They accumulate distance and they work energy system that is required for footy.  A good way to go is to start with a couple and gradually add as you become more fit; also set yourself a time to stay at or under for each rep, for example to keep all repetitions under 1 min and 20 seconds. 


3.  Hill Sprints - At first look hill sprint might not appear to be all that different from flat sprints; however there are three benefits that the incline provides over the flat.  1)  arm drive if you don't utilize arm drive during a hill sprint you won't be going anywhere fast  2)  Leg drive and knee lift the incline become emphasized both of which are important to sprint mechanics 3) Soft surface, although some hills may be on paved surfaces The majority will be found in parks; and although it may not seems like the dirt and grass are softer surfaces, these surfaces are much better for the athlete’s orthopedic health.

4.  Sled Pulls - If I were only left with one device to use in training athletes its very likely that this may be the one that I would pick.  The anaerobic conditioning, posterior chain (this is the entire back side of your body) strength, developed by sled pulling are second to none.  These are 2 of the most pressing needs of almost every single footy player I see.  However, sled pulling isn't limited to just lower body work; the upper body can be incorporated as well.  Don't be turned off because you think you are going to have buy a piece of equipment you can latch on to about only 'ol thing you can find and pull it around, everything homemade sleds made of plywood, tires, hunk of rusting metal, heck I have seen mom's dragging kids around in laundry baskets, the possibilities are endless.  Start by pulling a fairly light sled for 4 trips of 50yds and then gradually progress, with both sled weight and distance.  Note: it is wiser to add distance first and then to add weight.


5.  Power Clean + Push Jerk - the final drill is in the top 5 is actually a combo drill, utilizing lower body power and upper body power and strength.   Although some maybe hesitant to participate these drills; due their somewhat technical nature; it is entirely possible, especially for a young athlete to "pick-up" the drills in a relatively short time. If they can be taught to grandmothers then the can definitely be taught to footy players.   The benefit of total body strength, athleticism, and power, cannot be matched.  If the goal is to become a better athlete and hence a better footy player incorporating modified Olympic lifts will pay off big time in the long run. 

Description -

Power Clean:

• Start the clean the barbell is on the floor. The grip should be shoulder width apart or very slightly wider than shoulder width.
• Once you have grasp the bar your will in what appear to be a deadlift position, with exception that you will want to have shoulder in front of the bar.
• While still having you weight on your heels.
• Begin the lift the legs are extended and your hips and shoulders travel up at the same speed.
• Your back is arched and tensed
• Arms are held straight
• At this point your bar should be roughly around knee level, and your shoulders should still be in front of the bar.
The explosive portion of the lift
• The bar should brush your thigh as high as possible this is called the “scoop” it will assist in launching the bar upward.
• At this point the athlete needs to explode by driving the hips through, raising up on the balls of your feet and shrugging the bar simultaneously.
• the bar will travel up the body and the “catch” is made on the shoulders.
• The “catch” is a function of rapidly pointing the elbows forward and dropping slightly under the bard so that it lands upon your shoulder.

Push Jerk :
 Drop down into a roughly a half or quarter squat and without pausing drive up with your legs.
• This motion will make the bar rise off the shoulders.
• The bar should go straight from the shoulders to lockout by its momentum, without having to be pressed.
• At the end the jerk you should have the sensation that you are trying to slow the bar down to keep from flying out of you hands.  NOT struggling to press to a lockout


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At the end of day there is only so much time for training and there is only so much training you can recover from.  That's the beauty of having five simple drills, that are absolutely zeroed in on making you a better footy player.  Whether you are looking for strength, speed, anaerobic, endurance or just a little bit of everything; these five drills are more that capable of preparing the footy player for any kind of contest he/she may face on the field.  Come October, only the strongest, fastest, and most fit players will be left standing.  Don't you want to be one?

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