Weight training and conditioning don't stop once football season begins. In this 12-part series brought to you by Volt Athletics – an online platform for teams and athletes that combines strength training and conditioning with cutting edge technology – top college and high school coaches discuss how in-season training helps them on the gridiron.
This first entry features Columbus East High School (Indiana) coach Bob Gaddis. A 2017 USA Football Power of Football program, Gaddis' Olympians won their second state title in five years last fall.
Inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame in 2014, Gaddis (304-134 in 40 seasons as a head coach) is executive director of the Indiana Football Coaches Association and helped plan the recently formed National High School Football Coaches Alliance powered by USA Football.
Here, Gaddis details how his team, which started fall practice last week, approaches the season:
Q: With a change in school calendars in Indiana, two-a-days are largely a thing of the past. How has that changed things for you and your staff?
A: In Indiana, it's been a smooth transition to fewer two-a-days. Like the NCAA rule (now changed), we can't have two-a-days in consecutive days for safety. The Indiana Football Coaches Association worked closely with the Indiana High School Athletic Association to put in new summer rules. We can coach the players daily, but specifically, we can put on helmets, shoulder pads and girdles for 12 practices in the summer, five against other schools if you choose. We get a lot more fundamental work and basic install before official practice. We have our base defense, offense and special teams introduction installed when practice starts. We believe we've been sufficiently prepared.
Q: Does your summer conditioning program run right up to the start of practice, and what are your primary goals for the summer?
A: Our primary focus is strength, conditioning and football fundamentals. We want to do enough to be ready, but not too much, to avoid player and coach burnout. We go twice a week all summer, with the addition of a three-day camp and a few inter-school competitions. We have a state moratorium Fourth of July week, and condition at a local park (led by seniors) twice the week before official practice. We stay away from school during that week. We're aware other teams do more, but our focus is to be playing our best in November.
Gaddis speaks to the Olympians prior to their Class 5A state championship victory over Kokomo last fall at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Q: Between the start of practice and your first game, how do you approach on-field conditioning and weight room work?
A: Every year is different. We may condition more or less based on our staff's assessment of our condition. Our goal is to practice fast, with intensity. We condition the first few practices, but try to eliminate it ASAP. We tell our players it's their responsibility to report in shape so we can spend the bulk of our time becoming the best team we can.
Q: During the season, how are your weight room workouts structured, and are they consistent throughout?
A: All of our players are in strength class, so we're lifting four days a week, all season. Another benefit of this is we need multi-sport athletes on our team to be successful, and they need our players. Players and/or coaches should never use the lifting excuse to specialize in one sport.
Q: How have you seen weight training evolve in your four decades as a coach?
A: The biggest change in Indiana has been the strength training facilities. They're fantastic. Most schools, in all classes, have strength classes during the day and strength coaches. As an example, we have a 5,000-square-foot weight room that's full of athletes every period of the day (all sports, male and female). Our strength coach is also an assistant football coach, so we're fortunate.