With the 2014 season under our belts, everyone is now headed into, or already deep into their off-season programs.
One of the best things that we ever did as part of our off-season program was to incorporate weekly, team competitions in our workouts. This was not an original idea of mine, but we did add some unique elements to the concept.
The first thing we did each year was to divide our returning squad members (anyone who was planning on being part of our upcoming season) into 11 teams. We selected the teams by appointing 11 seniors as captains and holding a draft, with each captain selecting their squad. The draft was only open to these 11 seniors, so no one else knew the discussions about, or order in which squad members were picked. This draft became a much-anticipated event, with the seniors putting a lot of thought into their selections.
After the teams were picked and posted, we revealed (sort of) the competitions for each week. I say “sort of” because we did not let them know exactly what they would be doing, the rules, or criteria for winning until that weeks contest. For instance, the name for one of our contest was “War Games”… which was a tug of war tournament between all of the teams… but up until that week there was all kinds of speculation as to what the competition might be!
We incorporated many aspects of “team” and character into our weekly competitions… trying to get our players to compete in many areas that would make them a better student-athlete… they were not limited to just strength and conditioning. Here are some things we had the teams compete for:
- Best attendance for the week (school)
- Best attendance for the week (weight room)
- Tug of war
- Last Man Standing (holding a 25 lb plate at arms length)
- Most Breaks (increasing their estimated 1RM) in a week
- Best attendance at a girl’s basketball game
- 2 Men Enter (try to pull the flag in the sock of the opponent in a 5 yd x 5 yd square)
- Highest Average Pound for Pound Ratio
- Highest Average Power Quotient
- Most team members that finished the squad reading assignment (That First Season, by John Eisenberg)
- Obstacle Course (included carrying a 45 pound plate, flipping tractor tire, driving sled, and sprinting)
- Highest average GPA for that quarter
Each week the team would get points for their finishing rank (1st=1 point, 2nd=2 points, etc) and at the end of our winter/ spring strength and conditioning sessions, the team with the fewest points was crowned the winner. Each member of the winning team received one helmet reward decal prior to the first game of the following season.
The contests were always fun and spirited, and each week we saw new leaders emerge… and they were not always the “official” captains. Players would encourage, hold each other accountable, and be held accountable for these wide array of items. It was always interesting, too, to see how the captains picked their respective teams each year… knowing the strengths that were needed to succeed in this competition.
This concept had positive effects on a number of levels. There is definitely a team building/ bonding aspect to it. Our athletes got used to holding teammates accountable, and being held accountable. It helped develop and expose leaders and teach leadership. These competitions also helped our student-athletes learn how to compete, and emphasized a number of character related qualities with them.
As an added bonus, our administration loved it because we were measuring and talking about things like attendance, academics, and reading with our athletes.
As I mentioned, this was not an original idea (like most good things that we did) but was one that we added to each year to help make our off-season program a little more competitive and fun.
You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org