Tag Archives: Bubba

The Bubba Conundrum

I’m a big boy. A lineman for life. “Husky” was my Sears Toughskin categorization as a kid. I loved coaching the big boys of the offensive and defensive line in my football coaching days. Loved it.

We called ourselves the “Bubbas”. The running backs/defensive backs were called “Bullets”. The TE/linebacker-types were the “Bricks”. Everybody belonged to a group, everybody in each of those groups trained differently in our strength and conditioning program.

I almost blew a gasket recently when I heard of a coach telling a big boy lineman he wouldn’t be much use to the team next fall unless he got into better shape. First, I hate this approach, especially with a Bubba. It’s tough growing up a big boy in a skinny boy world. When one tells a big boy the above criticism, what he hears is something he’s probably heard over and over in his entire life—that he’s fat, lazy, and/or of little value— instead of hearing that he needs to be in better shape. Second, the above criticism from the coach is delivered with no plan of action.

The young athlete was knocked into a dark pit by someone he probably respects and not given any plan or tools for climbing out. Modern coaches and parents need to be more positive in these situations. Point out to the athletes they’d perform at a higher level if they were in better condition AND then give them a vision of how we’re going to accomplish this. (The WE part of the equation is very important.)

The conditioning requirements for high school football players are different for the Bubbas, the Bricks, and the Bullets. The specific work/recovery demands require specific considerations for each group of players. Even the casual high school football fan realizes the differences in physical demands between an offensive guard and a wide receiver on any given play. The lineman’s job and the wide receiver’s job both use the burst energy supplied by the anaerobic energy systems but in different ways. The lineman is using power over speed. The wide receiver uses the opposite, speed over power. Power/Speed vs. Speed/Power

A high school football play lasts only 5.6 +/- 2.0 seconds according to a study published in 2006. The NFHS play clock is 25 seconds. Adding the variable length of time it takes for the ball to be marked and set before the play clock is started, the total time between plays is about 45 seconds. I know what you’re saying, “This Hays guy is such a geek. I just want to play football and hit people. I don’t care about math or physiological energy systems. Where’s my dang helmet?”

My answer is this, you don’t have to care. Not really. But, as a strength and conditioning coach, I HAVE to care. I HAVE to design training regimens that give you the best chance to perform and “hit people” like a cannon shot each and every play of a four-quarter high school football game. I HAVE to consider these geeky physiological demands in order to give you the power you need.

5.6 +/- 2.0 seconds work followed by 40 seconds rest.

Why share these seemingly trivial numbers? No, I don’t give you these numbers so you know there’s about 40 seconds to run to get a bag of popcorn without missing any action. I emphasize these numbers because everything we need to do to prepare our Bullets, our Bricks, and our Bubbas to perform needs to revolve around this conditioning ratio. About 8 seconds of intense work, followed by 40 seconds rest.

Sprints, lifts, med ball slams, swings, pull-up, sled pulls/drives, agility drills, etc. all should follow fairly close to this timing 75-80% of total training time. The wide receiver’s plan would include a high percentage of the speed-building exercises. The offensive guard’s plan would include a high percentage of the power-building exercises. The remaining 20% or so would be developing general fitness in order to support the basic foundation.

These methodologies are usually sufficient for the high school athlete. If athletes move up to high levels, the college or professional level, the methodologies become even more personalized and intricate.

Bottom line, give your big kids a solid plan. Instead of straight up criticism, give them a goal. Give them the tools they need to attain the goal and give them the support they’ll need along the way. Every football team is built on the backs of the big boys. You better figure out how to deal with them and understand their needs if you want to be successful.

Respect your big boys! #BubbaForLife!




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It Was a Good Day to be a Bubba

It was the same pool I’d gone to all my life. I took swim lessons there. I’d played Nerf baseball in the corner of the shallow end of the pool ever since I was tall enough to stand and keep my head above the water line. But on that day it felt as alien and isolated, like a place I had never, ever stepped foot in.

I took off my ball cap, pulled the tank top over my head and stepped out of my grass-stained Converse All-Stars. I spread my towel on the pool deck, slid my glasses into the right shoe on top of the sweaty dollar for the snack bar, and covered the shoes with my rolled up shirt and hat.

I hardly recognized any of the kids in the deep end of the pool, the “older” section. Just last summer me and my friends owned this section of the pool, now it was like our existence had been cleansed, our presence removed from the historical record.

Eighth grade was gone.

Catholic school graduation was in the rear view and my first ever year of public school, in a public junior high and as a ninth grader, filled every inch of free space in the windshield.

The older brothers warned me not to go to the pool. They said I was too old; it wasn’t cool to be hanging there with “little” kids. But, it’s rather difficult to take advice from the same guys who tried to wedgie your underwear over your head or poured a gallon of milk on your head at Thanksgiving dinner, so here I was at the pool. And as much as I hate to admit it, my brothers may have been 100% correct this time.

A panic arose in my stomach as I thought about turning around and leaving, but since I stood out on the open deck, in my swim shorts, on the hot pavement, doing a little quick foot dance, I decide the less embarrassing path would be to get to the water. My plan evolved to getting in, cooling down, and then exiting the premises.

I’ve come this far, why not enjoy the pool.

I sat on the edge of the pool and cooled my feet. I scanned the pool again for friendly faces. None. I did notice out toward the center of the pool, though, in kind of an island of people, some recognizable faces. The public school kids.

I slid into the water and eased my way closer to the group until I stop about 15 yards away. First things first, there are three girls with bikinis on. Bikinis. Not something you see very often in the Catholic school girl’s circles, that’s for danged sure. Bikinis. After a few seconds processing this information, I decide bikinis are good, very good. Maybe, just maybe, there will be a few good things about public school.

My interest in the group went past the point of bikini interest when I noticed a surfer-boy kid and this mouthy kid in the group. I think the surfer-boy had an older sister who knew my older brother. The mouthy kid I recognized from summer baseball since he played on our biggest league rival.

I stayed my distance and observed. That is what big, husky, athletic, offensive lineman introverted kids do. We hang on the fringes and wait for something to happen. And as a sizeable Bubba-lineman introvert it’s kind of hard to “blend” into the crowd. I tried my best, though. I should have stuck with the plan and been heading back to gather my things and escape, but I was intrigued with something they were trying to do, something that was right up my alley.

The mouthy kid and the surfer-boy were trying to fly.

One of them stood on another kid’s shoulders as this kid squatted underwater. The one standing on the shoulders tapped the underwater kid’s head and the squatter stood up rapidly in an attempt to shoot the kid high into the sky.

The concept was good, but their execution was poor.

As hard as the surfer-boy and the mouthy kid tried, they just couldn’t vault high enough to do anything but barely get out of the water. Their attempts were duds and fizzled like bottle rockets hitting the surface of the pond. The soft, baby-faced kid they used as their underwater launch pad was, quite honestly, doing it all wrong and was the main source of their failure.

Over and over they tried but just couldn’t get it right. I shook my head in disgust, gravitating from my place at a safe introvert distance closer and closer to the group with each failed attempt.

The girls in the bikinis laughed at the boys, and even worse, their interest in this testosterone-driven show-of-male-teen-force faded. The boys began to argue about what was going wrong. The surfer-boy and the mouthy kid blamed the soft kid (at least they go that part right) and they eventually sent him to the sidelines.

They tried in vain a few times to launch each other. These attempts were even more of a failure than previous attempts with the soft kid. After one particularly heinous fail, I couldn’t help but laugh.

“What are you laughing at?”


I froze. It was the mouthy kid. My eyes flittered around the immediate area and realized he was talking to me. I’d drifted to within 20 feet of these kids. I was caught on an island with nowhere to hide, no way to disappear, and fully exposed in the middle of the pool. My brothers were absolutely, positively, 100% correct. I should have stayed home.

“Nothing,” I mumbled.

He looked at me. I looked at him. The anger melted from his face. “You’re a big one, aren’t you?”

I didn’t answer.

“You play for Varsity Sports, don’t you?” he asked.


“I play for Bryant’s.”


“You’re pretty good. You got a nice swing.”

“Thanks, you too.” I looked at the surfer-boy, who had drifted in. “Hey,” I said to him.

The surfer boy nodded. “Hey.”

A moment passed. My whole body screamed at me to leave. Screamed for me to save face, get the heck out of the pool, and never come back. But just as my body was turning, my head blurted out, “You’re doing that all wrong.”

“What?” asked the surfer-boy.

“You aren’t getting enough drive off the pool bottom.”

The mouthy kid and the surfer-boy looked at each other.

I dropped down in the water to where I was almost floating shoulder deep and edged my way backward in an escape route. “You’re jumping good off the shoulders, but you ain’t getting enough drive down low to get you in the air.”

The mouthy kid smiled. “Can you do it? You look strong as an ox.”

I backed away a few more steps and eyed the pool wall’s distance.

The surfer-boy chimed in. “Yeah, come on. Give it a try.”

I stopped in my tracks. Stopped like a tuna caught in a net. There was only one thing to do, move forward.

After half a dozen attempts, the sight of two man-boys flying high and landing with monumentally awesome splashes in the water and their laughs, giggling, and high-fiving, filled the center of the pool. I’d take a deep breath and squat as low as I could on the pool floor. One of them would balance on my shoulders, and tap me on the head when ready.

With every ounce of strength, I’d drive up and jump in the air. Just as I reached the peak of my jump the kid on my back would jump and fly into the air. As I fell back to the bottom, I’d see a shadow in the wave growing larger and as I went underwater, I’d hear the splash of the body hit the water and feel the concussion. It was awesome.

The attention of the bikini-clad girls returned, along with the attention of two-thirds of the people in that end of the pool, and the lifeguards. We boys at the center of attentions did not notice anything around us; we’d disappeared into our own little world. We didn’t even notice the shrill screech of the lifeguards whistle when she told us to quit and eventually made us sit out when we didn’t.

While in lock-up on the hot pool deck under the lifeguard stand, I sat quietly and smiled. The mouthy kid chattered with the lifeguard the entire time and eventually talked her into letting us keep playing our game if we moved to the deeper end away from people.

The surfer-boy rolled his eyes and smiled.

I threw bodies into the bright blue sky for at least another hour. If my legs tired, or my shoulders ached from being a launch pad, they were completely restored with each laugh and “Whoa!” and “Dude!” from the surfer-boy and the mouthy kid.

Finally, it was time to go. I got out, dried off, and dressed. I headed for the concrete stairs leading up to the exit. I heard the mouthy kid’s voice yell out, but I couldn’t understand what he said over the din of summer pool activity. I turned and found him and the surfer-boy, still in the water and again talking to several of the girls. I held my right hand up to my ear to signal I couldn’t hear him.

He shouted, “See you here, tomorrow!”

I smiled, placed my Varsity Sports baseball cap on my head, and gave him a thumb’s up sign. The surfer-boy and the mouthy kid returned the thumb’s up.

I tugged the cap down over my wet hair and walked with a spring in my step up the stairs, three at a time.

It was a great day to be a Bubba.



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The Brick

This is the Brick on his trick or treat stop by the house on Halloween. He’s a cool kid who, despite being the son of a former running back, is the youngest member of the Coach Hays Bubba Lineman Club.  It must be the positive influence of his mother’s genes.

One of those many unexpected benefits of being a coach is seeing former players do great things with their lives.  So proud and don’t really know if I deserve the right to be.

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Toughskins: The Official Kid Coach Hays Outfitter

Looking back, I was a difficult child. I had issues. Shy, stubborn, quiet and stocky. But I think clothing and associated issues were, and still, are some of the great issues of me. Clothes shopping is the most painful of activities.

Hated it.

I did not like looking through racks, did not like trying clothes on in the fitting rooms and absolutely despised the clerk and mother asking questions concerned over the status of the fit in the crotch.  Horrific! Always a difficult activity that shopping for clothing, plus when I was a kid in the 1970’s, fashion leaned a bit to the embarrassing as a general rule.  But as I have said on several occasions, I was a lineman, a Bubba, from day one, and finding clothes was always a difficult task.

I also had trouble with a shirt tuck. Seriously. Still do at age 46. One of my favorite pictures from childhood is what could be an Easter Day photo of my older brothers, my sister, and me, all dressed to the hilt. The others stand as perfect kids of fashion, worthy of any Madison Avenue ad campaign, cherubs sent down from heaven. Then on the left side of the photo is me. Dress pants, clip-on tie, scowl on face and hands balled up tight at my side. Not bad, except the right half of my shirt’s completely un-tucked. In this photo of youthful fashion perfection, I stand out like a flashing red light. Pathetic.

But with all those unfortunate fashion incidents, there was a pillar of apparel hope. Toughskin Jeans from Sears. Look at the photo. Appreciate the high tech design features.  The tri-blended material Toughskins, the HUSKY variety in my case, were the jeans for me. I had gone through a pair of Levis by the end of first recess, scoffed at the durability claims of Wrangler and the blue-light special jeans of K-Mart, forget it. Only one jean could handle the abuse of the Kid Coach Hays, Husky Toughskins.

Listen, these jeans were so tough they didn’t need a sappy name variation, like Tuf’ Skins or any of that sort of marketing mumbo-jumbo. (Look at the models in the ad, those are no nonsense kids, ready for action! And the jacket! Holy jumping Jehoshaphat! That is the height of big lapel 70’s greatness.) The Toughskins were so bad-ass, so tough-as-nails that Sears, confident in their creation, put a guarantee on Toughskins. If you wore through the 3/4 inch, highly fortified knee of the pant, they would trade you out a new pair. And thanks to a certain young boy, a decision which almost took the company down in the mid-1970’s.

I never fancied myself any sort of fashion expert. As my wife points out, I often wear black shoes with brown belts. But, I have to tell you, I became sort of a celebrity at the 38th Street Sears store in KCK. As previously mentioned, I was tough, tough, tough on clothes.  I still rip through clothes, especially my fashion foundation of blue jeans. I’ve gone through knees, ripped out belt loops, ripped gashes front and back. Heck, one time, I even caught the cuff of a pair of jeans on the heel of my shoe and walked/tore the hem right off the pants. So naturally, a mother with six lovely children and limited budget, eventually threw up the white flag to insure the financial solvency of the Hays family and put Destructo-Boy in the new technology out of Sears Research and Development. It was not so much that the mother believed any of the Sears durability claims, she liked the guarantee.

Long story short, I became somewhat of a celebrity at our Sears store. I would go through the indestructible Toughskins jean in a matter of months. Right before the guarantee would expire, I would do something else and have to go switch out for a replacement pair. Mostly the quadruple fortified knee would crumble under the pressure of recess on a parking lot. Falls, dives, rolls, tackles took down many a pair of Toughskins.

I would walk into the Sears store with my guarantee-savvy mother, and after a few moments for my ears to adjust to the ever-present high pitch squeal of our Sears store, the clerks would call out my name. I felt like a Hollywood celebrity strolling into a premiere, flash bulbs popping, fans waving.

“Hello, Master Hays.  New jeans, sir?”

“New Toughskins.  Husky, not regular.”  (It was like I was 007 in a exotic Russian nightclub).

“And may we interest you in the new forest green color, or the goldenrod, or perhaps the corduroys?”

“Not today, just the usual blue will do.”

The new pair would be traded out with the old pair. I always liked to believe the ruined pairs were sent by armored courier to Sears-Roebuck Home Base in Chicago for additional research and study. The clerks would step off to the side in private conversation with mother, with an occasional point to me standing in the aisle, for probably some “suggestions” about parenting. She never cared, mother loved the fact that she outfitted me in one purchase of Toughskins jeans for several years. I went through them so fast, the growth spurts played little effect.

It was the perfect, accidental fashion plan.



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