How To Train For The Collision Sports With Dan John

 In For Men, For Women, How To:, Magazine, Uncategorized

At workshops, I try to be as open as I can be with time. I am always happy to sit and answer questions and I am famous for using napkins for filling our programs, concepts, and continuums. Some of my best work comes from a few beverages and a good question. Not long ago, a dad asked me about getting his son ready for football season next Fall. He wanted a year-round approach to collision sports and occupations.

By definition, a football player is going to need a year-round approach. There are simply too many qualities to build and refine to take any less time. In other words, you have a lot of work to do. So, I jotted this out for him in his notebook: So far dad was with me as this all sounds pretty simple. He asked for details. Now, he stopped me before I finished, but let me give you a basic overview of each period: The restorative work can be as simple as just rest and relaxation. You give up a lot of time during football season with days often being 16 hours (with school work) and the athletes and coaches basically, go twelve hours every day at school. It is often a fun time to do things like bodybuilding or just basic fun and games.


Oddly, the poorer players often keep training furiously here. I’m not arguing for laziness, but time off seems to help more than hurt here. We like Complexes this time of year. These are exercises done “back to back to back” with one bar and seem to build hypertrophy, conditioning and “wrestler strength.” I never know what to call that odd kind of strength that wrestlers have in their body, but you know it when you see it.

Complex A is the one that most people begin with so here you go:

  • Row X 8
  • Clean X 8
  • Front Squat X 8
  • Military Press X 8
  • Back Squat X 8
  • Good Mornings X8

The dad was nodding along with me here.

Then, I explained Mass Made Simple, the 14-workout high rep squatting program.

It’s simple:

  • Bench Press
  • One arm press
  • A little supplementary work
  • Complex A
  • Finish off with high rep back squats.

“What else do you do here?” he asked. Someone who has not done bodyweight for fifty reps is usually pretty sure you can do more. We follow that six or seven-week program with basic training and that can take many forms. It’s at this time we also reintroduce tumbling once a week and hurdle work (the basic stepovers) twice a week. At this time, he stopped taking extra notes: “This is a LOT of stuff.” “We are still six months out from the season.”

The Big 21 is an intense three-week Olympic lifting program with the Press, Snatch and Clean and Jerk. I have a spreadsheet for every athlete as they need to do 21 of each lift three days a week and the weights go up five pounds each workout. “So, the Olympic lifts.” He paused. “And, the power lifts. And tumbling and hurdles.”

Right. I really like football players to wrestle and do Track and Field as these are the best complements to game, so if they don’t we need to do speed work and sprinting in the Spring, but I would rather see them racing. “Speed work, too?” We then do another round of Mass Made Simple just after spring ball, then just before the season add in some Double Kettlebell work, snatch grip deadlifts and thick bar work to build “armor.”

Like I told him, I don’t know what it means, but when you do something like Double Kettlebell Cleans, you toughen up. It isn’t logical, but it is true. Once we get into the season, I print out Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 numbers for everyone and we strive to hold on to our Military, Bench, Squat and Deadlift numbers as best we can.

He stopped me: “O lifts. Powerlifts. Tumbling. Kettlebells. Speed work. This is a LOT of stuff to do just to play football.” It was at that moment I realized the great divide when it comes to collision sports and occupations; it is a lot of stuff. And, you have to do it all. Oh, there is more, too. The rules of the game, the techniques, the tactics, and strategies are just some of the other things you simply have to know.

dan-john-trainingAnd, it takes a while. It takes years of physical training, skills training, and game experience to fully understand everything that is going on. And, at the extreme, you will never be fully prepared for actual war. At best, this is all a juggling act.

We have a saying in American football:

[bctt tweet=””Guys might get slower as the game goes on, but nobody gets smaller.”” username=””]

So, you have to be big. Bigger than you think. But, you also have to be fast. Each time you work on a mass building, you have to follow it up with speed work. With exhausted thighs from high rep squats, you might still need to work specific skills. And, the levels grow every year as the athletes come through bigger, stronger and faster with even more playing experience. And remember, in this discussion, I am just the Strength Coach. There are lots of other coaches and people trying to get their time, too. You need to put the time in, ”cost of benefit” constantly, and, honestly, hope for the best.

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