David Padilla, Football Strength & Conditioning Coach
If you have ever had a conversation with a football coach or, better yet, a football strength and conditioning coach about how their team trains, I would say that a good 90% percent will want to talk to you about the Big 3. The “Big 3” refers to the back squat, bench, and deadlift. Although some coaches may vary and say power clean instead of deadlift, the basic programming for their team revolves around how to get the group to be stronger in those lifts. I have been very fortunate to have been mentored as a player and further on into my career by someone who has had a different view of what strength is and how to apply it to a football team. This training has molded my view of what a “Big 3” for football really is and how to make not better gym lifters, but athletes.
If we are looking to create a better athlete then the exercise should not dictate what we are doing, it should be about achieving better movement. So, having said that, what are the 3 aspects of strength that truly translate to the football field? Bending (most of us would call this mobility), producing power, and resisting forces. Big shocker, right? Everything that the DVRT system teaches for training directly correlates to the football field.
Most coaches are out recruiting the biggest guys they can find, but in a one-on-one battle, in the game of football, the low man always wins. (It’s kind of an oxymoron, I know.) You can go to any football practice in America and hear a coach telling their players “You need to bend!”, regardless of the position they play. Now, as far as coaching cues go, just telling a player to bend doesn’t really teach them how to do it. This is something that the DVRT program really helps me to teach my guys. It gives me a road map on how to teach them the proper way to bend, whether in a squat or a hinge, and all while getting them REALLY strong.
For example, you would be surprised as to how many of my guys show up to camp who are supposed to be big, bad football players that move very poorly and cannot bend. I would love to get them under the bar front squatting 315 but if they don’t know how to squat and “bend” in all of the wrong places, I’m not getting them any better by having them do so. Instead, I have them bear hug squat a Ultimate Sandbag and almost miraculously we all can squat pretty well.
As a strength coach for a football team, training power with my guys is some of the most fun I have. Having the Ultimate Sandbag in my toolbox has diversified how I go about doing so. In the game of football, if you want to be a good player you need to be powerful in all directions. For example, a Defensive lineman needs to be powerful when squeezing down on a blocker trying to drive him out of a gap, a DB can display power when making a break on a ball, or a QB can show their ability to create power by rolling out and throwing a ball to the opposite side of the field. Incorporating the DVRT system into our training has given me a way to train power in all planes of movement that the traditional Olympic lifts don’t. Something as simple as the lateral clean with the USB translates to a cut on the field or a rotational clean to an O lineman trying to pull down the line. These little things are HUGE in developing athleticism for my guys on the field.
This may be the biggest aspect of training a football team that the Ultimate Sandbag helps me to teach; being able to resist forces (or brace) in all directions is huge. During collisions, or while making a cut to change direction, resisting forces in the opposite direction makes you better. When two players collide head-on, the person who is able to brace and stay erect through the hit is probably going to win that battle over someone who folds or gives some type of flexion in the midsection. Just holding the USB on the fists will teach you how to do this relatively quickly. The USB is so versatile that I am hard-pressed to think of an exercise that you don’t have to resist forces pushing on you and depending on where you load the body, it will completely change the way you resist and brace.
The DVRT system has added so much depth to our training, and every single movement teaches an aspect of football that most would think are unteachable off of the field. Bending (mobility), producing power, and resisting force are some of the foundational aspects of the DVRT system and it is no coincidence that those “Big 3” correlate directly to NOT just the football field, but how we must all be strong in life!
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