What I learned from Michigan’s Head Strength Coach

Last Tuesday, at a nice 5am, I had the opportunity to talk with the head man in charge of the University of Michigan’s strength and conditioning program.  I was extremely thankful for the 30 minutes we spent (or me asking questions) and that he took the time to provide insight, experience, and knowledge of what typically entails his day and variout thoughts pertaining to training.  Being a Michigan fan my whole life, it was really neat to talk with someone who is passionate about the job and the well-being of his athletes.  It seems (and I would not know for sure) that college strength and conditioning has the reputation for simply trying to get guys big and strong without realizing that they could be doing more harm than good.  Here is a insightful article to read that Mike Boyle shared on his blog…Are College Football Players bodies Being Abused.  Here is some of what I came away with…

#1 How you can overtrain college athletes even when you don’t want to

  • He was very passionate about holding the student-athletes accountable for everything they do.  Being on-time, conducting themselves in the weightroom, and on the field the right way, etc…They need to be disciplined, period.  It is one of the deciding factors behind winning and losing programs, are they disciplined enough to not allow stupid mistakes on and off the field.  He explained, how it is very important to give guys deload weeks with lifting and on-field sessions but explained that if players show up late or slack off, that deload week or session could be turned into a punishing workout because they need to learn what it is to be a team and to be accountable young men.  We all know overtraining is not beneficial for progress or injury prevention but if the team is not accountable, you cannot be successful on and off the field.  Be accountable.

#2 They FMS all their athletes and give them the correctives

  • With having such a large team, its always impressive that coaches take the time to assess the athletes with something as awesome as this tool.  However, he was honest in saying he was not sure if this is what prevented injuries.  I can agree, you assess athletes and then create the program off of that. Do No Harm.  It is interesting that in this previous football season, they had significantly less injuries than the previous 3 years (they had different strength coach).  He was humble in saying that he may be praised for this year but that he wouldn’t take the credit because he would be the same guy that in the next year, if they had a lot of injuries, he would be the guy people are blaming.  The message: do the best you can to try to keep your athletes healthy!

#3 College program is completely different from the private setting

  • His guys go from 4am til 6pm everyday, mostly 7x/week  (yes, everyday), and it is year round.  You have got to give it to these guys in the college setting, they are high energy high motor guys that have an absolute passion for what they do and the athletes they work with.  When I watch the Youtube vidoes from the strength coaches over at the Citadel,   I cannot help but get pumped even if it is 5am  – competitions

Again humble when coaches want to share knowledge and experience with young coaches such as myself.



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