SAQ Training For High School Football Players by Joe Defranco

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I’ve been asked how I go about training athletes for speed, agility, and quickness (SAQ). This is something very practical for strength and conditioning coaches because while you can make an athlete stronger and more powerful using a strength program, if the athletes don’t have SAQ training, they take the chance of being out-performed on the field. Because it is currently training season for our high school football players, I’ll discuss how we train them.

We don’t do any SAQ training with our football guys until the end of May. Once May comes around, we’re able to do our speed and conditioning work outside. We don’t run until May not because we don’t have a big enough facility but because I have specific reasons for not starting to run until this time.

During the initial stages of the off-season for a football player, I like to give the body a break from the repetitive nature of running. We focus on restoring muscle that may have been lost during the season. We heal any injuries through rehab exercises, do some soft tissue work, work on flexibility/mobility training, and get proper nutritional habits in place. Basically, all of these things build the foundation for SAQ training. This is very important to remember. If you do SAQ training with a fat, weak, inflexible kid who is eating fast food every day, do you think he will ever reach his true speed potential? Of course not! He’ll just be a SAQ of shit who runs every day but never gets faster! We work on the cause of the problem, not the problem itself. In most cases, it’s a lack of relative body strength (strength training coupled with a proper diet and supplementation routine) and a lack of flexibility/mobility.

Having football players run in January is detrimental to their ability to get stronger and recover from the previous season. I guarantee that if you really get your football players focusing on eating properly, lifting properly, and improving their range of motion for 4–5 solid months, when May rolls around and you take them outside to run, they’ll be amazed at how much more powerful and faster they feel.

We want to be in peak condition for the football season, not for Easter! The Easter Bunny doesn’t give a crap if you can play four quarters in April. I guarantee though that your coach will care about you playing four quarters in September through December! If you start running 2–3 times a week in January, you’re going to be fried once training camp starts. After all, it doesn’t take high school kids eight months to get in shape anyway. To show up to camp in shape and ready to kick ass, all you really need is 6–8 weeks of conditioning.

One of my current clients, Tenafly High School quarterback, Jabulani Lovelace, is a great example. Jabulani was a first team all-state quarterback who will be attending Rutgers University on a full scholarship this summer. He arrived to train with us on January 8th weighing 182 lbs at 6’02.” He could barely squat two wet socks! If I started running his guts out in January, he would probably arrive at Rutgers in June still weighing 182 lbs. This wouldn’t be good for a kid who will be taking hits from men from schools such as Louisville, West Virginia, and Pitt.

For the past three months, Jabulani has been lifting weights (WS4SB) 3–4 times a week, working on his flexibility, and eating a much better diet with the help of meal replacement shakes. On March 18th, he weighed 200 lbs and box squatted 325 lbs for two easy reps off of a below parallel box. His physique has transformed by adding 18 pounds of lean mass, and he’s starting to look like a college athlete.

Jabulani Lovelace dominating high school at 180 lbs.

Jabulani Lovelace preparing for the next level.

Many people misinterpret my philosophy and think that I feel running isn’t important. Nothing can be further from the truth! Running is extremely important. I just feel that the importance of running is mistimed by most coaches. Here’s a rough outline of what some of our high school football players do during the off-season and pre-season.

January–mid May*

Monday: Max effort upper body lifting

Tuesday: Max effort lower body lifting

Thursday: High rep upper body lifting or dynamic upper body lifting (advanced)

Friday: Extra workout (full body) or dynamic lower body lifting (advanced)

*Most of our athletes are active playing pick-up basketball games, racquetball, and weekend lacrosse tournaments.

End of May–end of June

Monday: Max effort upper body lifting

Tuesday: Dynamic warm up, mobility drills, sprint technique, tempo runs (linear)

Wednesday: Max effort lower body lifting

Thursday: High rep upper body lifting or dynamic upper body lifting (advanced)

Friday: Dynamic warm up, mobility drills, frequency drills, anaerobic conditioning (using football drills/agility drills)

July–mid August*

Monday mornings: Dynamic warm up, mobility drills, anaerobic conditioning (linear)

Monday evenings: Max effort upper body lifting

Tuesday: Max effort lower body lifting (decrease volume and intensity)

Wednesday: Dynamic warm up, mobility drills, anaerobic conditioning (using football drills/agility drills)

Thursday: High rep upper body lifting or dynamic upper body lifting (advanced)

Friday: Dynamic warm up, Strongman conditioning

*At this time of the year, most high schools participate in 7-on-7 passing camps during a couple of weekends. This adds more running/conditioning and neurological demand to the work week. Also, take 3–5 days completely off before the first day of training camp.

This template has approximately 33 conditioning workouts, not counting 7-on-7 tournaments or training camp. If you’re not in shape for the first game, take up poker! Notice that we ease into the running workouts. Some coaches like to argue that if you don’t run all year long, you’ll pull a muscle when you start running. This isn’t true if you plan your workouts accordingly. You wouldn’t max out on every single exercise in the gym on your first day back, would you? Don’t max out on your first running workout either. Be smart during the first two weeks back.

High school football combines are becoming more popular throughout the country. If your kids are preparing for a combine, this sample template must change. Most combines are in May. This means you’ll have to start running and practicing the tests sooner.

Joe DeFranco is one of this countries most highly sought after performance enhancement specialists. He has trained over 500 high school and college athletes from various sports. This includes All-State and All-American performers in football, baseball, wrestling, basketball, track and field, lacrosse, and hockey. Thirty-one of Joe’s athletes have been drafted by the NFL. Joe has developed a reputation for achieving previously unheard of results with his athletes. He is considered one of the most highly respected trainers in the world. For more information, visit DeFrancosTraining.com.

Elite Fitness Systems strives to be a recognized leader in the strength training industry by providing the highest quality strength training products and services while providing the highest level of customer service in the industry. For the best training equipment, information, and accessories, visit us at www.EliteFTS.com.

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Submitted by DMorgan on Tue, 04/17/2007 - 11:38pm.

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Morgan,

You're right Difranco is a must read, his site and skinny bastard articles I-III with templates are great.

Pete Rahas



Submitted by Pete Rahas on Fri, 12/28/2007 - 8:03pm.