Archive for Thursday, August 19, 2004

The weighting game

While waiting for another football season to kick off, several Basehor-Linwood High School football players hit the weight room harder than ever this summer in hopes of getting the Bobcats back on the

August 19, 2004

Some of those wise to athletics will say while sporting prowess is shown during games, that prowess is created during the off-season.

Basehor-Linwood head football coach Steve Hopkins is banking on this notion heading into his first season as the leader of the Bobcats.

After being named the new head coach in the spring, Hopkins instituted a new fitness program for his team in the hopes improved "explosiveness" will lead to better results and sustained performance.

"We expect to be better in the second and fourth quarter because of our weight room aspects," Hopkins said. "I don't know if we'll be better in the first quarter. In the first quarter last year, they were really good. Basehor was ahead in the game at the end of the first quarter most games last year and then did not finish the deal.

"I will be real disappointed if we get into the middle of the second quarter and we die, and I don't think we will."

Those in the weight room are "graded" on a system that accounts for strength, endurance and body type. Three main lifts -- the bench press, squat and power clean -- are measured, and then athletes have to complete as many repetitions as they can before exhaustion. Then height, weight and the percentage of weight lifted to body weight are figured, and this gives the coaches an idea of where each athlete stands.

And while it sounds like a complex way to go about figuring athletic ability, Hopkins said it is something he has subscribed to for the past 20 years.

"It should measure the amount of time you can explode or make an explosive movement before fatigue," he said. "Before you're fatigued or you can't lift your arms anymore or your legs or whatever. It really measures the athletic ability of a young person.

"I've never not seen it work. Going back 20 years when we started doing this at Blue Springs, we've never not seen it work. Kids that are stronger, that get injured less and when they do get injured, they recover very quickly, and the more explosive athletes we have on the field."

The improvement over the summer has been exemplary, Hopkins said. When the athletes were first tested, only four were above the 85 percent the coaching staff hoped to have all starters at. Now, 12 are above the golden line, and Hopkins said five or 10 are almost there. While added strength will be a bonus for the team, the main idea behind the lifting system is to keep the team healthy, Hopkins said.

"The whole theory is that they will have fewer injuries," he said. "That's what we stress more than anything else, because they will be better able to withstand the physical game. Fewer injuries, quicker recovery time from injuries.

"The second thing is the more explosive athletes we can have on every play, the better our chances are. Our opponents are going to be explosive, so we've got to explode them."

Hopkins said some of the notable performers in the weight room have been running back Will Peterson and linemen Michael Hancock and Tim Brownley. While what Peterson has done in the weight room has been impressive because of his smaller size, Hopkins said it also shows how much athletic ability the larger Hancock and Brownley possess.

"Tim Brownley is one of the biggest kids we've got," he said. "He and Michael Hancock are about the same, and then you've got Will, who is one of the smallest in stature and surely doesn't weigh a lot. But according to the explosion product, all three of them can bring about the same amount of explosion for the same length of time.

"That's a real testimony to Will, but that's also in a way a testament to Brian and Tim. When you bench press a bar and you're 6'6" that takes a lot more strength than it does for Will. Everybody's saying how great of a squat Will is doing and that's true, but Will is 5'8" and Tim is 6'6" and Michael is 6'5" and for them to go down that low requires a much larger range of motion."

The new system in the weight room has made a difference for the teams outside of the gridiron as well. Hopkins said over 130 athletes have worked out there during this summer and more than 80 have been to over 75 percent of the workouts. Athletes playing soccer, basketball and cross-country, as well as the cheerleaders and dance team, have all worked out there. Hopkins said he has discussed the advantages of the weight work with his fellow coaches.

"Everybody's been real, real supportive, and I expect to see results in every sport," he said. "Now they've got to keep it going. If you're a winter sport or a spring sport only, the hard time to really do it is during school. It's easier during the summer because you don't have that school day. We have more and more kids that are in weight classes and that helps.

"I think as kids start to see the results we may be able to get more kids to take that class seriously and make it a real commitment."

But with the football team looking ahead to its first game -- against its rival Bonner Springs, no less -- the crop of top athletes created by the new weight system has caused the coaches to change some game plans to take advantage of these all-around athletes Hopkins said.

"We've designed two new offensive sets just to get some kids on the field because of their weight room effort," he said. "We've got new defensive fronts that we're going to do because of these kids' weight room effort. Get those kids on the field, they can explode. Some kids have been disappointed, but those aren't the ones that have been in there."

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