F=ma

It is that time of the year, when an old, ex-football strength and conditioning coach still becomes obsessed with one thing. Summer conditioning would have started by now and that one thing would be written and saved on the whiteboard. Written down before the Four P’s (Purpose, Pride, Passion, Performance) were given board space or before the Performance Triangle (Nutrition, Hydration and Rest) discussion. That one thing would seep it’s way into everything we did. It would be the one factor driving the whole strength and conditioning program. What is that one thing? Force. Force as represented in the physical formula, Force = mass (m) * acceleration (a).

Everything we did in our program was about playing explosive. We were (and still are) a physical pool of tough, athletic, middle weight wrestler genes. We needed to play offense, defense and special teams with chaotic aggression in order to compete. In order to play in an explosive, aggressive fashion, we first had to generate force. Everything depended on our ability to generate enough force to be able to hit the opponent like a cannon shot and hit like that from play number one until the clock read 00:00. I remember reading many years ago a quote from Mike Arthur, a strength coach at the University of Nebraska.  Coach Arthur said Head Football Coach Tom Osborne wanted the ground-breaking strength program at Nebraska to develop athletes who would hit hard every play. His philosophy was to hit and hit the opponent until their will was broke or until the opponent became overwhelmed physically and everything the strength program did was to that end. I liked that philosophy and immediately adopted it.

Force was developed by incorporating explosive power development into everything we did. Warm-up was dynamic, speed work, footwork and foot placement was practiced and perfected every day. The lifts were done in explosive fashion with generating weight velocity being more important than the amount of weight. I would rather see an athlete push press 150 lbs. in a fraction of a second than see an athlete take 5 seconds to push press 200 lbs. overhead. The lifting cadence was always 2 counts on the negative portion of the lift, followed by a rapid 1-count explosive positive part to drive the weight through the full range of motion rapidly.

We also created an environment to promote the development of force. We worked fast, hard and aggressive getting as much done in a 40 minute workout as was humanly possible. In the summer program, I now will admit, I drove the kids like dogs. The workouts were brutal and intense, we blasted loud music and certain coaches shouted and pushed and squeezed every ounce of energy the kids had.  Every day. It was so much fun. We had a “Stand Tall” rule. If a coach caught an athlete bending over, sitting down, leaning or relaxing in any way, shape or form they would have ten push-ups to do.

F=ma. If you want to generate force and you have a limited mass, then you better damn well be able to move that mass rapidly toward a target. But, it does not happen on its own or by accident, the only place one can wake up with explosive force is in a comic book. Force must be developed in every aspect of a program; it is an attitude. It is a way of life.

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