Athletic Performance: Off-Season Program 2018 (part 1), Goals and Programming

It’s that time of the year again. The footballs are locked away in the equipment room and your staff is starting to meet again. As a coach, you’re hitting clinics and the AFCA Convention. But you still have a job to do. Your job from January through early August is to get your players to be more athletic, while still respecting their other sports they play and their grades. Your staff needs to sit down and meet to figure out the following, but here are my tips for each section:

Click here for Coachspeak episode 28 “Off-Season Program 2018”

Goal Setting

What are your goals?

Transfer effect- You have to create a program that will transfer your workouts onto the field, court, mat, etc. 

Winning games- We all want to win, and some of us even need to win and win now in order to keep food on the table. Create a program that allows you to win!

Hand-to-hand combat- Football is played predominantly on your feet as a form of hand-to-hand combat. Much like wrestling, basketball, boxing and MMA. If football is played on your feet, you need to lift on your feet.

Making healthier humans- We’re going long-term here. If we really care about the whole athlete, we have to worry about teaching them a program and methods that will create a healthier human. That’s no supplements, no steroids, no focus on “being swol” no focus on “huge gains, brother.” Let’s focus on being stable, flexible, injury resistant, and feeling better. 

Life long habits- Habits don’t have to be negative. Habits can be a good thing, something you do daily to feel better and improve yourself. If we build workouts that are beneficial and enjoyable, the student-athletes will want to continue them long after their playing careers are over. 

When to Begin

I think the key is to allow high school athletes the time to rest and recoup. They’re young, and not professionals or even college aged (you hope, anyway). Let them enjoy home life, do HW, study for midterms, and spend time with their families. We focus too much in this business on “working 80 hours a week” and “never taking breaks” because football “has no off-season.” Here’s something for you: YOU NEED TO GET AWAY TOO.

If you have a weights class it’s different, this refers to after school work-life balance stuff. Go home to your family and let them do the same. If you’re working out as a class, the post-season is a great time to focus on taking care of their bodies so yoga, pilates, and body weight workouts are great to do for a month after the season. Sure UGA got right back under the steel but most of us don’t coach 100 Division I FBS athletes. We coach maybe one per season. 

A great time to begin would be the Tuesday after Martin Luther King Jr weekend.


For the winter and spring, I would go 3 days per week regarding after school. Again, a great time to begin would be the Tuesday after Martin Luther King Jr weekend.

Planning: Undulating. I would keep the body guessing changing volume, stress, and intensity day to day and week to week.

Volume: Sets and Repetitions

Stress: Weight on the bar and in your hands

Intensity: Difficulty of the lift (most difficult in my mind are the Olympic lifts)

In the weight room- I use five different types of workouts: yoga/pilates, bilateral, unilateral, snatch practice, clean practice

On the field- Movement: Speed Camp (2 days per week) and Agilities (1 day per week)

Why do we program this way?

Keep the body off balance by changing lift styles, reps, and weight while focusing on flexibility, stability, and resistance.