Off the field: Chinese delegation gets glimpse into football players’ training

Marjorie S. Miller
November 05, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Dwight Galt, director of performance enhancement for the Penn State football program, addressed the training regimen of Penn State football players at the football strength and conditioning facility Oct. 22 in the Lois and Mildred Lasch Football Building.

Galt's session was part of a Chinese delegation, in which about 25 sport physicians, physical therapists and sport scientists visited University Park from Oct. 20 to 24 to learn the latest in sport medicine clinical practices, scientific research, and training and conditioning.

The group, which represents the General Administration of Sports of China, traveled to the United States to better understand sport science in other parts of the world. During their trip, the delegates also visit other universities and cities. The group, which was hosted by Penn State’s Department of Kinesiology, the Penn State Center for Sports Medicine and Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics, has visited campus as part of the delegation twice before.

Galt, who has helped train nearly 40 former athletes who were active in the NFL, has 30 years of experience at the collegiate level.

“All the strength and power is worth nothing without the movement,” he said to the group.

The Lasch Building, he said, is one of six training facilities on campus. The weight room, in particular, is used specifically for football training.

A common misperception among other countries is that American football players are big and slow, Galt said, explaining he wants to squash that stereotype.

“They’re some of the best athletes in the world,” he said.

Penn State runs an aggressive football training program, Galt said. Out of a 52-week school year, players train for 47 to 48 weeks. During this time, they’re also attending classes and practicing football, he said.

“It’s an extremely challenging four to five years for them,” Galt said.

One focus during training, he said, is joint stability, which is important in resisting injury and is a big aspect in a player’s flexibility and resistance.

Galt also highlighted other focuses of the regimen, such as speed training and appropriate recovery. Some contributions to recovery include proper nutrition, flexibility modalities and the use of hot and cold therapy.

Chuck Losey, assistant strength and conditioning coach, geared his presentation toward foundational strength. The overall goal with this type of training is to build muscle mass.

“A stronger muscle and bigger muscle is going to be a faster muscle,” he said, and therefore a player will be able to exert more energy on the field.

Foundational strength training is broken down into a variety of ground-based multi-joint movements, including the bench press, overhead military press, back squat and dead lift.

At any given time, players are doing two to four of these movements two to three times a week, Losey said. The volume and loads of these movements change throughout the calendar year.

After a player’s foundational strength is established, more complicated lifts can be incorporated into the training routine, Losey said.

Galt, strength coach, explained and demonstrated some of the Olympic training movements that are used as part of the program.

One focus is bar speed, he said, which is measured by a Tendo unit, or Tendo Weightlifting Analyzer, which calculates how fast a weight bar is moving when an athlete is lifting it.

When incorporating this kind of training, coaches look for how a player drives his hips, Galt said. This is an indicator of how quick the player’s first step will be out on the field.

As players get better in movements, they increase in starter strength and other areas, he said.

Alvin Futrell, performance enhancement coach, addressed some of the agility training techniques, such as 10- and 20-yard-span running and touching drills.

“This drill is very important to us because we have every position do this drill,” he said. “Every position will do this drill to help them move.”

These drills, which each have their own variations, are good for evaluating a player’s speed, Futrell said, and how fast he can change directions.

Assistant strength and conditioning coach Barry Gant Jr. discussed plyometrics, or jump training.

“(This) allows us to bridge the gap between regular movements and Olympic movements,” he said. “It allows us to teach these guys to move in different directions through jump training.”

Both with and without weights, players practice a variety of movements, including box jumps, sideways jumps and jumps in the sand. In addition to focusing their bodies on jumping upwards, players also concentrate on jumping downwards, Gant said, which helps with deceleration. This practice can help prevent injury and increase the stability of leg that is landed in.

The focus of this activity, Gant said, is to train players to spend less time on the ground when they’re out on the field.

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  • Football training lecture

    Barry Gant Jr., assistant strength and conditioning coach, demonstrated different techniques during a seminar on Penn State football players' training and conditioning regimen Oct. 22 in the Lasch Building. From Oct. 20 to 24, a Chinese delegation of about 25 sport physicians, physical therapists and sport scientists visited Penn State’s University Park campus to learn the latest in sport... Read more ›

    IMAGE: Marjorie S. Miller

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 05, 2014