Q&A with Coach Shawn Griswold Part II

In the second part of Devils Digest's sit down with ASU's new strength and conditioning coach we discuss the specifics about the team's strength and conditioning work load, the nutrition aspect and how does ASU's weight room facility stack up to the competition.

Devils Digest: Can you specifically talk about the work load you have for the players during spring practice, fall practice, etc.

Shawn Griswold: "When spring ball comes, we'll still be pretty intense here. We'll back off some and go to three days a week, and we won't run because we'll do so in our practices. The team will have some down time in May, some discretionary weeks there in May, some guys on a three-day program some on a four-day. Once we hit June we will start our summer program nine weeks before camp and then we are really hitting it conditioning wise. Right now it's more speed, power, change of direction and we'll do a little conditioning here and there. But now we need some strength, we need some body weight gains on some guys that are hard weight gainers.

"In June we'll also get a little more specific by position. Running backs have different needs than offensive linemen, who have different needs than defensive linemen. There is always some carryover and crossover stuff, but we try to make it specific by position and eventually specific by individual needs. Right now, kids are working together based on their class schedule and not by position. I'd like to try and keep them by position, but if you're a senior and you have to have this class to graduate and this is the best time for you to take it…and you probably scheduled this class since October or November. So we try and keep all the players together by position as much as we can."

Devils Digest: How long do the winter conditioning sessions run?

Shawn Griswold: "Two hours. Every school has its different layout, where do you lift, where do you run. Our indoor facility is awesome, and it's just down the road. So we run some players at 6 AM and some at 7 AM and then they come back throughout the day to hit their hour and half lift. So the two hour sessions are split because of the setup."

Devils Digest: Are they specific body parts for each player that you try to concentrate on during winter training?

Shawn Griswold: "On Mondays and Thursdays we will (weight) clean, back squat, front squat…all this is working your gluts and hamstrings – things that you can't see. Most high school kids like to look in the mirror and work on their biceps, chest and abs. But we want to work on the (body parts) that you can't see, because that is really where the game is played – waist down and on the back side. So you work on that to protect the kids."

Devils Digest: In order to increase explosion with a player, do you have a certain lift or exercise?

Shawn Griswold: "We have a different explosive move everyday. Today was the power clean, we'll do a snatch, dumbbell jerks, dumbbell clean, throwing medicine balls, box jumps…you name it we're going to do it and keep on changing it.

Devils Digest: Granted, the team already has nutritionist on staff but how much do you get involved in that phase as it relates to workouts?

Shawn Griswold: "I do have a big say in it. I will utilize Beth (the team nutritionist), I will be meeting with chefs the next few weeks. I will give the kids a survey sheet that they can fill out – ‘what do you want to eat? how do you like that food to be prepared?' Hopefully, the food up there (in the dining room) is what the players want to eat, not what the coaches want to eat. You're obviously dealing with every different economic background, ethnic background, so let's find things for each of them to eat.

"Meals on Friday night (before games) we'll have Prime Rib or steak if they want, we'll have chicken, and we'll always have peanut butter and jelly. Day of the game we'll have the chicken, the pasta, the peanut butter and jelly and all that stuff. But we'll also have pancakes and eggs, because some kids rather eat that because mentally it looks light and fluffy and some players don't feel like they're eating heavy. So there is a mental side to food too.

"Down here (in the weight room) they are getting a daily vitamin everyday where they squirt into a Gatorade-like drink. We also have the Powerade shakes, trail mix, almonds, (protein) bars…lots of options because the pallet is different for everybody. When the guys are done working out, somewhere in that 30-minute window we like them to get back something into their body and not go all day without eating. It's amazing how many kids will go the whole day without eating and again it depends on your background. I had kids that would tell me ‘coach, we didn't eat for two, three days because we didn't have anything.' Those kids weren't blessed to have a mom and a dad to provide. You can't change someone's diet just like this, but overtime the education process when it comes to food is huge for us."

Devils Digest: In today's college football there is an obvious arms race between schools to have the most modern facilities. In 2002, this ASU weight room was named one of the best in the country by Sports Illustrated, but that was ten years ago. How does this facility compare in your eyes to what you have seen around the country and what improvements have to be made in your opinion?

Shawn Griswold: "The iPhone you have now, isn't the same iPhone they manufactured five years ago. It's still a great facility, but we just need to update. It needs a remodel and mostly because of recruiting, because recruiting is such a competition of who has what. My job would get done if I didn't have anything but bars and plates, but in today's recruiting you have to have a ‘wow' factor. If you don't, then we are behind. Every school in the Pac-12 is redoing their weight room. So it's crazy how you can go from being the top weight room to not being one of the best.

"It's still a great weight room. We'll hopefully re-do all the rocks, the platforms, change the emblem to the pitchfork so it looks uniform throughout. Just to dress it up a little bit because things do get beat up over time."

Devils Digest: You talked about the endurance factor this team will need to have, but at the same time you have to be realistic about what you can accomplish in time for spring practice in comparison to what you can accomplish for fall practice…

Shawn Griswold: "It's a process, but I know we'll be in good shape in August. But it will take a full year, maybe even two years to really get the nucleus to where you really want to be. It's not that we're not going to run the spread, but the kids will be more efficient at blocking out that lactic acid…it takes time. People train for the Olympics for a long time for that one day, they don't just train two months out.

"So yes, we will be able to run but over time we'll be in better and better shape."

Devils Digest: You haven't had to deal with extreme summer heat here, but how would you adjust the workouts for that time of year?

Shawn Griswold: "I have dealt with that in Tulsa because it's both hot and humid. The turf temperature would be 132 degrees and the air temperature would be 107. It's a dry heat here, but hot is hot. So with the volume of running we do we will run inside, because we have to run a certain yardage for the week. At Tulsa we had to run outside so by 10 AM we were done because the body physically cannot take that heat.

"So we're going to run in the bubble and it's not like the kids have to get acclimated to this weather – they live in it. So we'll be fine. We could run some stuff outside, just depends on the schedule but I would imagine that most of our stuff would be inside."

Devils Digest: Do you feel that there is a correlation between strength and conditioning and better football IQ?

Shawn Griswold: "I think we can help (football IQ). Lots of stuff we do, we coach like they (the football coaches) coach. We coach very fast, shorts blasts…because that is what they are getting in the game. If you have a 40 second clock and you try to snap it every 17 seconds, if you screw up you don't have time to hang your head. So hopefully we are teaching a lot of that in our running. Being smart and learning the drills is like learning the offense. We'll talk during the drills how this will mimic how you would run a route during a game.

"Just reading their workout card on their own will make them better. If we are constantly holding up the card for them, we're just enabling them and not helping them be as good as they can be. They have to be fast and they have to be smart. If we are going fast and making mistakes, we're not doing any good." Devils Digest: Even though it's very early in the winter conditioning session do you feel that you are satisfied with where you are at this point of the process?

Shawn Griswold: "I really feel that I fit in here. I'm from Northern California so I'm glad to be back west. But I really think that the kids really care about one another, work extremely hard, and I had no discipline issues as of yet. We may have those issues in the future, but that's life and if you didn't have those issues there would be no need for coaches.

"How you motivate each kid is different. Some are very intrinsically motivated, some are very quiet. Cam (Marshall) is not a very vocal guy and that's OK. We don't need a thousand chiefs out there, we just need some generals and some kids to follow. But our goal is to take them to the next level."

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