Weightlifting. Conditioning. Refining your skills. That's what a great athlete does in the offseason.
High school athletes will get a chance to showcase their physical prowess in the coming months.
Every football player plays the game in August, September and October, but what sets the great athletes apart from the others is the work done outside of that time frame honing his skills. Attending football camps, lifting weights, and doing whatever it takes to stay on top of his game is what separates the good football players from the great ones.
As you might expect, the most successful programs have the best offseason programs.
Tim Spiess, who in six years as a head coach and defensive coordinator, has led Genoa to six playoff appearances and five league titles, says the Comet offseason weight lifting program is vital to the team’s success in the fall.
“At Genoa, we do things a little differently,” Spiess said. “We only require our players to lift two days per week. The reason we do that is because there is no excuse for them not being there (when it's just for two days). For an athlete to say, ‘I had to work or get tutored,’ that might work if you have to lift three days per week. We usually have 100 percent attendance and the kids start to have more confidence and lose that anxiety. We've found that less is more.
“And we have separate times for our younger kids if they don't want to lift with the older guys. We send our workout charts to the younger kids that our older kids did when they were that age. When (graduated running back) Kyle Nutter was a freshman, he was benching 115 pounds — now he's at 375. When a kid sees that up on the wall, it can be a little overwhelming. I think the biggest problem a young athlete has is looking at an older athlete and seeing how strong he can be.”
Some football players are active in other sports, and that is certainly a benefit when it comes to staying in shape. Playing basketball helps with athletes maintaining endurance while wrestling helps them to increase their strength, though there are some drawbacks to having to lose weight for the sport. In the spring, some of these athletes play baseball or run track to gear up for the summer and the two-a-day practices that come with playing football.
For those who don't play a winter or spring sport, that's where getting in the weight room and conditioning becomes even more important. At that point, the burden lies on the players and the coaches to consistently work hard to build muscle and stay in shape.
Oak Harbor senior Cobi Brough, who earned All-Ohio honors as a linebacker for his efforts last season, says he makes an extra effort to lift and staying in shape during the offseason.
“Staying in shape and working hard in the weight room is important in the offseason,” said Brough, one of the Rocket captains, “because it helps you get ahead when compared to other teams because the teams that work the hardest in the offseason are the most productive and successful.
“We have an awesome weight room and training facilities. We work in there after school all winter and spring. Coach May goes to a lot of camps and always has a new drill or lift for us to do that helps work ourselves into better shape and play at the highest level we can.”
Brough's teammate, Cliff Biggert, who doubles as a wide receiver and linebacker and improved his bench press mark by 40 pounds since the end of last season, also seeks to stay on top of things during the winter, spring and summer months.
“It's very important to have the mindset of trying to make yourself stronger and better every time you lift,” said Biggert, who runs track in the spring to get in shape for football season. “Lifting during the offseason prevents injuries and makes playing the game fun when you can overpower (the opponents).”