Feb. 11, 2013
Familiarity often brings comfort--but not always. Such is the case with the Colorado State football team's offseason strength and conditioning program, called "Ram U." Anxiety or dread might be more appropriate, but a significant measure of comfort does come from the fact that most of the players on the roster have already been through the program once.
That comfort level likely brings confidence that they can endure the physical and mental grind and push themselves even further than last year.
At this time a year ago, Ram U was being introduced for the first time by head strength and conditioning coach Mike Kent, who came to Colorado State when head coach Jim McElwain was hired following the 2011 season. Amid the many changes around the program, Ram U set a new standard for offseason strength and conditioning work.
Kent is a veteran strength and conditioning coach with more than 30 years in the business of preparing student-athletes to handle the rigors of intercollegiate athletics. His appearance and drill-sergeant's bark suggest old-school. While Kent's methods and toughness may be rooted in old-school, they are cutting edge in a profession that is constantly changing.
Kent says this year's Rams came back from their Holiday break in better shape than a year ago, and suggests that habits formed in last season's strong finish likely played a role.
"It's a carryover from the season," Kent said. "We had a great deal of success to end the season, so their commitment over the five weeks that they were off--which was a long break--they did very well when they showed up back here on the 22nd of January."
Players have spent the first three weeks of the spring semester working out with Kent and his staff four days per week, preparing for Ram U. Those workouts were scheduled differently this year, with the players split into three workout groups that alternated by week starting their workouts at 4, 6 or 8 p.m. The change-up in schedule was designed to keep players on their toes and their focus strong, having to adjust each week to a different workout time, and to be disciplined with their studies and to structure their time outside the classroom.
"The best thing about this group coming back is we have a lot of veterans who know what the expectations are of the Ram U program," Kent said. "They know that we have the coaches involved and it's got a lot of hard work but instruction in how it applies to the game and how it applies to the field."
The team will work out Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday each week from now until spring break begins on March 16. The workouts will focus on both strength and conditioning, with two days per week devoted to linear work and two to change-of-direction training. Each day's training is comprised of nine stations of work to concentrate the training.
"This is kind of our second phase, which is a very crucial and very critical part of our program and our development," Kent said. "These kids are ready to go. They have a mindset that they're going to outdo what we did a year ago in our Ram U program. Competitive spirit, working hard, encouragement, all of those team-bonding issues are things we see take place in this part of the year."
The games are played on Saturdays in the fall, but most often it's the work done in January, February and March that sets the tone for the success a team may have come September and beyond.
"When you think about the investment of a football program, they invest about 300 days (a year) of their lives for 12 Saturdays, 12 opportunities to play. Looking at this next phase--these five weeks right before spring break--it's exciting. It's an opportunity to bond as a team and work exceptionally hard and come together and get ready for spring practice."
As every played was asked today: "Are you READY?"
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