Tag Archives: Lineman

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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Snowman’s Revenge

(A short work of fiction, with a little bit of fact included.)  

After a good snow last week, the boys spent an entire day building snowmen in the yard and then spent the final ten minutes of daylight running full speed into these sculpted towers of snow. The boys were big boys, high school football players and lineman types. They giggled and laughed each time a snowman exploded in a cloud of white powder.

It was so much fun, in fact, that after dark that night, they decided to take their newly found talent show on the road. They drove to the money neighborhoods, the neighborhood where the suburban families built the most picturesque snowmen and snow forts imaginable, like they hired artists to decorate their pristine lawns.

The boys drove around the alien upscale neighborhoods until they found a particularly nice piece of young urban professional snow art. Car parked, one of the big boys opened the car door, sprinted across the lawn, and obliterated the snow statues to powder and small chunks of snowball. The activity was repeated several times across several city blocks until each of the boys had a chance to steamroll a snowman

Yesterday, it snowed again. A snow day kind of snow, complete with a foot of wet, packing snow. That evening the boys again packed into the vehicle and headed out for the the wealthy side of town. These are not bad high school kids in any ways, shape, or form. It’s just the winter boredom and the recent snowstorm have left few options for entertainment. So, they headed back to blow up a few more snowmen.

The car stopped at a corner house, the only light on was the dim glare of the porch light. The biggest and bravest kid stepped from the car just outside the shadow of the street light. He pointed in the direction of a yard where he took out a snowman the last time they visited. He smiled a confident smile and got into his offensive lineman three-point stance before quietly reading out a cadence. The column of exhaled breath drifts away on the crisp, cold air. Game time.

“Down.”

A few giggles of anticipation from inside the car.

“Set.”

All went quiet.

“Hut.”

The man-child exploded out of his stance. The snow flew behind each step he took. Faster and faster he moved toward the newly built, even more Norman Rockwell-ish version of a snowman. A giant of a snowman, at least eight feet tall, four huge balls of snow stacked on top of one another. Closer and closer, the lineman approached his target. Two steps from the snowman, he lowered to perfect technical blocking position, ready to pancake block the snowman into oblivion.

He collided with the snowman in a dull, flat thud.

Instead of a beautiful white cloud of snow, the air rapidly left his body. He bounced off the snowman and landed on his back in the deep snow. He gasped for air, the twinkling stars moved in circles above his head. And the he heard laughing from the direction of the front porch. He rolled his head to see a pajama clad four or five-year-old boy high five-ing his bath-robed father just inside the threshold of their front door.

Finally able to inhale the sharp, cold air, he stood up and staggered in defeat back to the open car door. Pride wounded and body screaming in pain, he fell into the safety of the backseat just as the young boy’s voice floated across the yard.

“Don’t mwess wiff our snowmans, no more!”

The car exploded in laughter, save for one occupant, who reached for the door handle. As he pulled the car door closed, he caught one last look at the snowman. The street light reflected off its solid ice-encrusted surface as it stood tall and proud, smiling a wide, charcoal briquette smile at the beautiful, winter night.

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Bubba Lineman Tribute:The School of Block

The School of Block

There is Honor on the line.

There is Glory in the trenches.

Honor in the protection of what’s ours and in the destruction of what’s theirs.

Honor in the 50-79 numbers, invisible to all but the coaches and the blood relation.

Honor in aggressively getting in the defender’s way. Line it up, tear them down, repeat.

Glory in a facemask decorated in turf and mud.  Hands bruised. Fingers battered. Knuckles bloodied.

Glory in watching the backside of your running back move down the field.

Glory in crushing the will of the opponent.

The School of Block

Coach Hays, September 2010

I love blocking. When most football fans watch the pretty boys (the QB/RB/Receivers), I watch the line. Every play, whether in person at a game or watching one on TV, I watch the line play first and foremost. I played the line, I coached the line and, my favorite story, PLATTE RIVER by Rich Bass, is about a lineman. I guess I just view life through the lens of a lineman.

The SCHOOL OF BLOCK is my tribute to the boys in the trenches. It is my interpretation of what it means to be a lineman and my attempt to represent the feel of being a lineman. As football coaches, we know the vital importance of winning the game at the line of scrimmage. As fan, I hope this inspires you to watch the line play more often and come to appreciate the Bubbas.

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For the Bubbas:The School of Block

The School of Block

There is Honor on the line.

There is Glory in the trenches.

Honor in the protection of what’s ours and in the destruction of what’s theirs.

Honor in the 50-79 numbers, invisible to all but the coaches and the blood relation.

Honor in aggressively getting in the defender’s way. Line it up, tear them down, repeat.

Glory in a facemask decorated in turf and mud.  Hands bruised. Fingers battered. Knuckles bloodied.

Glory in watching the backside of your running back move down the field.

Glory in crushing the will of the opponent.

The School of Block

Coach Hays

September 2010

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