When a championship is on the line, coaches want their entire team to perform at its peak. Months of preparation, both on the field and in the weight room, culminate in a few vital matchups.
Inadvertently, many strength coaches put their players at a disadvantage during crucial games. By performing power exercises as part of their in-season training programs, players are often overtrained, resulting in sub-par performances during competition.
Power training definitely has its place within football players’ strength and conditioning routines. However, during the season, when games are played and practices are more intense, these demanding exercises can push a player over the edge and prevent him from recovering fully. To allow for optimal recovery and performance, eliminate the following two exercises from your in-season training programs and replace them with alternatives that provide the same benefit with less risk of injury or overtraining.
Skip the Power Clean and Perform the Clean Pull
The Power Clean develops total body power, as athletes forcefully extend their hips, knees and ankles. At the end of the movement, you snap your elbows through and finish in the rack position. But this can cause a problem during the season. The catch position leaves your wrists sore and beat up, which is especially problematic for linemen. And a poor catch can tweak or jam your wrist and cause an unnecessary injury at the worst possible time.
Replace the Power Clean with the Clean Pull. Essentially, the Clean Pull is a Power Clean minus the catch. You start in the same position and perform the same triple extension with the same hard shrug at the top of the movement. But the catch is left out. The result is an explosive exercise that builds power without stressing the wrists.
Skip the Bench Press and Perform the Board Press
Modify the Bench Press slightly to reduce the risk of injury. During the football season, your shoulders are subjected to a lot of abuse during blocking, diving and throwing. Although the Bench Press is a great exercise, it dramatically increases the demands placed on the shoulder joints, potentially contributing to injury.
The Board Press shortens the range of motion and takes much of the stress off of the rotator cuffs. You can nail a couple of two-by-fours together or use a foam roller to complete this exercise. With a partner present, place the board (or whatever you’re using) on your chest. Lower the bar down to the board, then press it back up normally. The limited range of motion allows you to train the same movement with less chance of injury.
In-season lifting is crucial to long-term success, but coaches must choose the right exercises. Strength training sessions should push athletes to their peak without increasing their risk of injury. Use these modifications of two key lifts to keep your athletes healthy throughout the regular season and into the playoffs.