MCGILL: Herd Knocks -- The weight room is an important part of camp recovery
The Word on the Herd -- Aug. 19, 2016
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – There are days during training camp in which the last player might walk off the football field at dusk. It might seem against conventional wisdom that the same player could find it useful to be in the weight room shortly after dawn the next day, but Marshall head strength and conditioning coach Luke Day believes in the day-after recovery process.
“We believe that movement heals,” Day said as the Thundering Herd puts the finishing touches on two weeks of camp. “If you’re banged up and sore and knotted up and muscles are aching from all of the stuff that’s happening on the field, come to the weight room and get moving, stretching and bending.”
Camp is a grueling process. There are sometimes two practices a day on top of lift sessions and other requirements, and most days begin shortly after 6 a.m. and lights are out by 10:30 p.m.
What has struck Day is how the players have responded to lifting weights throughout those hot, unforgiving days on the turf.
“I’ve been really impressed with this training camp because they’re very mature and taking a professional mentality when it comes to taking care of themselves,” Day said. “The biggest thing you can’t have is carrying yesterday into today.
“When you’re grinding like this and you’re practicing the way we do, if you’re not taking measures yourself to reset your body from what happened the day before – and getting yourself mentally and physically prepared for the day – we cannot continue to move the margin forward.”
Lifts take place Monday, Wednesday and Friday during camp, and the days in between focus on flexibility. The players have bought in, Day said, and that is helping with the recuperation process and allowing players to perform at their peak on the practice field.
“Our guys have really taken that and ran with it instead of dreading coming in here,” Day said. “They’ve looked forward to the camp lift because it helps them with soreness and keeps them on the path to building strength and becoming more mobile and athletic. That’s encouraging to see.
“A lot of times in college athletics young guys don’t grasp that concept,” Day said. “It’s like eating your veggies – you’d like to eat a cookie and lay down and take a nap, but coming in here and working out during training camp is exactly what your body needs.
“I think that’s part of why we’ve been so successful through camp.”
Herd football players are exposed to a variety of training techniques. If a player has a certain physical ailment, they’ll focus on that part – the hamstring, the hip or a quarterback recovering from a long day of tossing passes around Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
“We have a floor routine; we do yoga; we have foam rollers and band stretches,” Day said. “We have a dynamic circuit that includes a carry, a push, a pull and a crawl. They’ll pull themselves up, they’ll lower themselves down, they’ll change levels, they’ll lunge.
“Every type of movement to get new blood circulating through the body to help heal what happened 24 hours, sometimes even as short as 12 hours, before.”
This is important, Day said, because it is a professional approach. If there is a pro football aspirant on the roster, he’ll find the players at the next level recover from the bumps and bruises the same way.
“A lot of times that light bulb doesn’t go off until you get to the next level and you see how many of these veteran NFL guys are obsessed with recovery methods and it’s foreign to college football players,” Day said. “Our guys are doing a nice job with it and it is helping us raise our floor and ceiling a little bit so that our worst day is better than what it used to be and our best day is better than it used to be.
“It’s about raising the margin around here.”
Marshall wraps up camp Saturday with a scrimmage at 5 p.m. With an off week to open the season, the first game – Sept. 10 at home against Morgan State – is still three weeks away.
The team’s commitment to the strength and conditioning camp will pay dividends, Day said, during the 12 consecutive weeks Marshall will play during the regular season because of the off week during the first weekend of college football.
He has noticed a difference this August because the players have embraced all facets of strength and conditioning – not simply the amount of weight a player can lift.
“Movement, flexibility and mobility are premiums for us,” Day said. “The better that gets, the better the lift starts looking. The stronger the lift gets, the better they move with more force. The more force you move, the more ground you’re covering. If we’re covering more ground in a shorter amount of time, that means we’re faster and more graceful.
“Suddenly plays that used to be a step or two ahead of us, now we’re making them. All because we put a premium on moving and building a great athlete and building out of those movements. If we make them a great mover, then we make the mover stronger.”