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Old 12-13-2011, 04:31 AM   #1
Jason Ashman
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Default Coaching Question

Forgive me if this is in the wrong forum, but I'm looking for an answer from the coaching community here.

I have an athlete that I spent almost a full year training for Canadian University football. Excelled at two sports (soccer and football) in highschool, and was built as a scrambling quarterback, the type that is a threat to run or pass on the larger Canadian field. He's deadly accurate inside of 30 yards, and was chased by some D2 and D3 NCAA schools before deciding to stay up North.

Now, when he came to me, he was fast and agile, but not strong or powerful; No hip drive, no knowledge of serious lifting, etc.- in other words, your basic Canadian highschool football player. He came to me with a 5.5 40, 16" vertical, negligible squat and dead, and an agility test time that I can't remember, but that I know was 90th percentile+ for the region. By the time I was done, he was a 4.8 40, 24" vert., 285 squat and 280 dead at 175lbs, and was even quicker on the agility testing. All of this, and he blew out his ham halfway through training at a combine, and suffered from shoulder issues throughout because of an overzealous highschool football coach who believed that throwing a LOT, everyday makes for a better quarterback. I work with a competent team- massage and physio- anyway, so we worked him through that, and still ended up with serious gains.

I'm willing to take public credit for the improvements, but most of what I did was simply take a talented kid and introduce him to real strength & conditioning, and give him the programming he needed to get things done.

So, I sent him off to school in the best shape of his life, where he was promptly red-shirted and sent to the practice squad behind two 4th year quarterbacks. He was put on the program's "football training" regimen, and, while I've kept in touch, I haven't had him back for training, until now.

He's at 185lbs, and thicker through the shoulders, traps and upper back. But, here's my problem: EVERYTHING is gone- the hip drive, the mobility, the quickness and agility, even the squat mechanics. He's bigger, but seriously weaker, and he can't even run a simple box drill without breathing hard. I spent HOURS working the sleds (Prowler-type and drag) with this kid, and I'm not even sure he'll see the sleds over the holidays, because I'm worried I'll hurt him- he's THAT tight.

He's a driven kid, but I wondered if he'd been slacking, so I asked to see his logs; he's done everything they've asked, and he swears up and down he's been watching the diet as much as University living will allow, and has kept the liquor to minimal amounts. However, here's the issues:

1) It's NOT a position-specific program: everyone- from lineman to quarterbacks- does the same thing.

2) Its built around bodybuilding. The logs included the programming, and its pure garbage- something a decent globogym PT would throw at their advanced client, but nothing even remotely resembling solid football strength & conditioning, for lineman or quarterback.

3) Its unsupervised, with little to no coaching involved.

4) Although there's ladder work involved, the program lacks sprinting, box drills, or anything that could legitimately be considered as conditioning work.

5) Its so bad that a basic intense box drill- 10 yd. sprint, 10 yard shuffle, 10 yard back sprint, 10 yard shuffle- done for 4 reps at high speed destroys him, where before it merely made him breathe hard- he was also a provincial-level soccer player.

6) The program's entire recovery/pre-hab approach consists of the word "stretch" at the end of the day's programming.

Completely ignoring the obvious fact that's its a disgustingly worthless program (that's for another post- I've been fighting that fight for 18 months at several schools: the entire region is like that, and they stubbornly refuse to embrace reality), here's my question:

Do I have a right as this kid's off-season strength & conditioning coach to go bitch to the coach/trainer/Athletic Director about what they've done to my athlete? I didn't spend almost a year of my time turning this kid into a football machine so some moron personal trainer with no strength & conditioning knowledge who got the job because the old AD believed that having a basic personal training license and having played CIS football qualifies one to train athletes could take him back to square one in 4 months.

I realize I may have no real recourse here- after all, he's technically THEIR athlete now- but it has pissed me off to no end that I'm going to spend the next three weeks trying to get this kid back into something resembling an athlete so they can go fuck him up again next semester.

It disgusts me.

Any suggestions or thoughts?

Much appreciated.
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Old 12-13-2011, 05:26 AM   #2
Blair Lowe
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You can try dealing with the AD. Good luck on that.

Honestly, I think have a sitdown with the kid and discuss what he was able to do beforehand and where he is at now. If he smarts, he'll get the picture. Otherwise, he's probably fucked. See if he can be responsible for his own training and career.

I take it he was on some machine based bodybuilding split with some cardio machine work?

He's gained 10 pounds. Has his bodyfat changed? It sounds like you inferred he gained 10 pounds of muscle but just checking.
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Old 12-13-2011, 06:18 AM   #3
Jason Ashman
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Mostly muscle, but there's a bit of fat there also. He's bigger, but was heavy cardio in soccer, and was actually ripped out- properly built, not starved- with an 8-pack when he left. The 8 pack is gone, but the abs are still visible. If I had to guess, I'd say 50/50 or 60/40 muscle/fat. Its tough to tell because, while he's clearly bigger through the top end, he's clearly smaller in through the legs and posterior chain.

I had the sit-down with him this morning, and detailed how, regardless of what they give him, he has to tack on his own pos. specific stuff and conditioning work in addition to what they're giving him. I told him I'd program him a solid conditioning set-up for when he went back. He knows I think the trainer is a worthless hack, but I think there's a bit of pressure on him to do the program, since he's a redshirt, and the trainer is also a coordinator.

There are also some equipment issues to consider: The school- like just about every facility out this way- lacks what you or I would consider to be "standard" for a quality S&C program. I work at the "best" conditioning facility in the region, and my chains caused a sensation a few months back (a below-par set magically appeared at the facility 6 weeks later), and my slosh pipe drew a crowd this morning. The facility coordinator doesn't know what a Dynamax Ball is, and when someone asked for more bumpers, she purchased them from BodySolid- the rings lasted 6 weeks before the rubber around them broke free. For the region, mobility, trigger point, and foam rolling are considered "innovative"- inquiring about a Bamboo Bar or a Prowler is met with a sea of blank stares. Pressing about modernizing the program is met with hostility.

I REALLY wish I was exaggerating.

I don't have the program with me, but off the top of my head, a day looked like this:

Step-ups "with kick" (warm-up)
Calf Raises (warm-up)
DB "Cuban presses" Barbell Example here (warm-up)

Back squat- 5,5,10,10
Arnold Press- 12,10,8,8
Deadlift 10,10,5,5
Weighted OH Halo 3X15

Tricep Push-downs 10,10,8,8
Curls 8,8,6,6

Swiss Ball Roll-outs 3X15
Swiss Ball Thrusts 3X10


So, not machine based, but something you'd expect to see from a guy familiar with weights- but not programming- at a globogym. What bothered me- other than the obvious- was the rep counts, and the general goofiness of the exercise selection. Its as if the dude wandered through the internet, just picking stuff at random. I see what he thinks he's doing- lower body, shoulders, lower body, shoulders, followed by an arms superset- but I have no clue WHY anyone would approach University football training that way, or how to work with it to get him back on track.

BTW: Other than ladder drills, I saw ZERO cardio/conditioning work in the program. Not even a treadmill session.

Its obvious what the results are, but I can't understand how the hell someone in charge of training a University team has actually been able to use this crap.
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Old 12-13-2011, 06:39 AM   #4
Troy Kerr
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 248

Jay I feel your pain. Unfortunately this is a scenario that is probably all to common in the strength and conditioning world.

I think there are two scenarios here :

Scenario A: I think if these coaches gave a damn about putting effort into their programming, you and your athlete wouldn't be in this unfortunate position.

Scenario B: The coaches program could be restricted through the upper levels of the staff. From what I have come to understand about coaching at both the college and professional level, a lot of what the athlete do has to be approved by the head coach and his staff etc.

See if your athlete can put you in touch with a coach or staff member so you can go about setting up a meeting. From there the best thing you can do is to present your concerns in a direct yet intelligent manner. They may be willing to here what you have to say, or they may not really care. Remember that if you stir up the wasp nest the person most like to get stung is your athlete.
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Old 12-13-2011, 10:32 AM   #5
Steven Low
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Well, depends on how serious you want to actually try to change things....

You should at the very least help the kid himself since he knows you know what you're talking about.

However, will you make any widescale changes in regard to the system in place? Who knows... probably not...?
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Old 12-13-2011, 01:13 PM   #6
Jason Ashman
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I'd love to seriously try to change things- its a bloody joke out here.

However, like I said, attempts at progress are met with hostility, and certain groups of people where I work now don't take kindly to people criticizing their antiquated and hopelessly obsolete training methods (think elementary school mentality, but with grown men and women). I don't know if this other school is the same way, but the one thing I don't wish to do is create harm to my client- Dude has potential, and I don't wish to see politics or petty bullshit get in the way of that.

Much appreciated Gentlemen.
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Old 12-13-2011, 02:21 PM   #7
Steven Low
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Hell, if they aren't keeping track of what he does in the gym you might as well get him on a good program.

And then just use it as evidence later that your methods are superior. Also, if his friends are interested you could work it in that way as well.

Of course, you might have to deal with the backlash of them finding out that you're separately coaching their athletes.

But it is what it is I guess.
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