In-season speed and strength workouts for football are challenging to keep up with due to so many limitations with time and school schedules. When I was called to begin a new program for a private school in Dallas that had never had varsity football before, the challenges were enormous, two of which were enormous beyond what I had seen before. We had no speed or strength. As a private school, the academic demands were over the top making time very tight. Even before this job, I had always thought it made no sense to do all of that work in the off-season and stop once the season got here with the exception of a few squats and bench presses. Therefore, I am going to lay out what I call in-season integration for taking off-season training into the football season.
Starting with my favorite, speed training. Over the years, high-speed 110s became very effective 2 for 1 training devices. We would run 4-6 110s at 95% effort with a long rest and gain a huge improvement in speed and conditioning.
I did high-speed 110’s every other Monday until it got below 60 degrees.
As an assistant one year I convinced the head coach to let me do Monday conditioning at the first of practice to eliminate the conditioning dread since Monday was our 110 (yards) day. It would be great as the players ran when they were fresh, got it over with, and to say the least were thoroughly warmed up for practice, even though Monday was not a contact day. From there, I did high-speed 110’s every other Monday until it got below 60 degrees. The standard 110’s workout was run in 17-19 seconds depending on the position and a 45-second rest. The high speed 110’s were run at 95% effort, 12-14 seconds depending on the position, with a 3-5 minute rest with only 4-6 reps. The principle that if you want to be fast you have to train fast proved correct. We could see more collective team speed in practice and games. The conditioning component was obvious, practices stayed sharp longer, and game stamina improved. Another benefit I wasn’t expecting was the improved speed that the other conditioning drills were executed.
In addition, I used the change of direction drills and fundamental training for relevant positions. For example, I coached linebackers and used the pro agility, 5-10-5 as a great tackle to tackle drill. There were plenty of other off-season drills that worked for other positions besides the position-specific drill I already did in the offseason.
About those weights. We all love to lift the weight, don’t we? It is surprising how little you need to maintain off-season gains. I would have our guys do short lifts Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Without laying out the whole program, we would Bench and squat 3 sets max early in the week, one-day olympic short lift, and Saturday a flush out.
On Saturday, our JV or subs lifted like it was off-season, they need to continue development. Especially all sub-varsity teams, keep training, keep getting stronger. As a head coach, I was not worried about JV records, I wanted athletes developed and prepared. As you know, anything is bigger than zero. Avoid all or none thinking. Use selected elements of off-season training to your in-season advantage. Start small and build, it's easy, first of all, and the payoff is huge.